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The Quiet War
Paul McAuley
Pyr, 405 pages

Paul McAuley
Paul McAuley was born in England in 1955. He worked as a researcher in biology at various universities before going to St. Andrew's University as a lecturer in botany for 6 years. Some years ago, he decided to move on to become a full-time writer.

His first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award and several subsequent novels have been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, winning one for Fairyland which also won the 1997 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, "The Temptation of Dr. Stein," won the British Fantasy Award. Pasquale's Angel won the very first Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Long Form) in 1996. McAuley also produces a regular review column for Interzone and contributes reviews to Foundation.

Paul J. McAuley Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Quiet War
SF Site Review: The Quiet War
SF Site Review: Fairyland
SF Site Review: Cowboy Angels
SF Site Review: Mind's Eye
SF Site Review: White Devils
SF Site Review: Making History
SF Site Review: Fairyland
SF Site Reading List: Paul J. McAuley
SF Site Review: Whole Wide World
SF Site Review: The Secret of Life
SF Site Interview: Paul J. McAuley
SF Site Excerpt: The Secret of Life
SF Site Review: Shrine of Stars
SF Site Review: Pasquale's Angel
SF Site Review: Ancients of Days
SF Site Review: The Invisible Country
SF Site Review: Child Of The River
SF Site Review: Fairyland

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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The Quiet War The causes of war have long been one of the major debating topics among historians everywhere. Wars don't just happen, even when there's a precipitating moment such as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or the firing on Fort Sumter, usually years of tension and disputes are involved before war actually breaks out. In The Quiet War, Paul McAuley takes us deep into the machinations, schemes, ind intrigues that serve to make a war seem not only necessary but inevitable, even to those who were against it in the first place.

Here's the scene. Climate change has left a ravaged but re-building Earth dominated by powerful aristocratic families who control, among other things, the large environmental projects upon which much of the populace labors Further out in the Solar System, the Outers control the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and are engaged in social and technological experimentation that feels threatening to the interests of Earth. Through the lives of several characters, including Dave #8, a cloned spy, Macy Minnot, an environmental engineer who starts life on one side and ends up on the other, and Loc Ifriham, a diplomat of indeterminate loyalties, we follow the events, some of them planned, some not, that lead to war.

Paul McAuley began life as a science fiction writer with a series of first-rate novels, ranging in scope from the biological cyberpunk of Fairyland to the cosmic sweep of the Confluence series. He then wrote several near-future thrillers, all of which displayed lessons learned from writing SF. With The Quiet War, a hard science fiction novel with elements of political and spy thrillers, he has come full circle. Now McAuley is applying lessons learned from writing thrillers to the larger canvas afforded by science fiction. The result is a novel that ranges from Earth to the outer Solar System, contemplates technological wonders and grand schemes, but creates most of its dramatic tension through the lives and motives of individual characters.

At the same time, The Quiet War is a statement on the way political, economic, and military interests can either conspire or be manipulated into war, and how public opinion can be managed to support it. The characters in The Quiet War, some of them in favor of the war, some against, all attempt to influence events with varying degrees of success. If there's a lesson here, it's that it's a lot easier to manipulate people through fear and confusion than it is to persuade them with understanding and reason. That's a tough lesson, but fitting, for a novel that takes a compelling, insightful, and, yes, thrilling look at a future headed towards war.

Copyright © 2010 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is happy to know that the sequel to The Quiet War, Gardens of the Sun, has already been published in Great Britain. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.


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