The Wild Shore (1984)
Kim Stanley Robinson
In 2047, it has been sixty years since America was quarantined after a
devastating nuclear attack. Henry, at 17, wants to help make America
like it was before all the bombs went off. But, for the people of
Onofre Valley, on the coast of California, just surviving is enough of a
challenge. Living simply on what the sea and land can provide, they
strive to preserve what knowledge and skills they can in a society
without mass communications. Then one day Henry meets two men who
say they represent the new American resistance.
Green Eyes (1984)
A pseudo-science mix of voodoo and biology are combined to resuscitate still-warm corpses -- zombies.
One of them, Donnell, and his analyst, Jocundra, flee the place in which the experiments
are done. Their intention is to discover the purpose behind Donnell's state.
On their journey Donnell begins to see lights. It turns
out that what he is seeing are electromagnetic fields
surrounding objects including those of people and animals. He soon
begins to manipulate the fields discovering he can cure illnesses.
This strange curse leads them to setting up a practice
as a healer in America's deep south. Soon, a decision is made to build a huge
electromagnetic field, called a veve, from a mass of copper upon which
Donnell can walk. He travels to another world where his real origin, and the true
reason for the project, start to come together.
Rampant poverty and excessive affluence, unparalleled leisure and sophisticated crime -- it is
a world that Case, a burnt-out, nerve-damaged computer geek, inhabits.
Once he was at the top of his game, able to plug into the world
of cyberspace where programs take on a visible form and can invade any system, no
matter how well-protected. Now, unable to work, Case is living in Japan, on the slide
to self-destruction. He is picked up by Molly, a street samurai and combat
artist and her mysterious employer, Armitage. They give him a comeback
chance but maybe even he can't cut it despite his restored abilities.
Neuromancer is worldwide in scope -- from Japan, to the Sprawl -- a nightmare
urban conglomerate stretching between Boston and Atlanta -- to Istanbul
and then beyond to Freeside, a space habitat which combines Las
Vegas and a darkside Disneyland. It was the first novel to win the Hugo Award, the Nebula
Award and the Philip K. Dick Award.
Carter Scholz & Glenn Harcourt
I read this novel but I couldn't figure out what it was about. So I read it again. A second time didn't help.
All I remember is a sense of unremitting dread, an eerie sense of impending gloom. So I'll quote from
It deals with experiments in time travel. It is, by turns, a novel of mystery, of espionage, of philosophy
and adventure and intensely personal experience. "Palimpsest" is a parchment or the like from which writing
has been partially erased to make room for another text. The narrator is Camus, an intelligent young man
who is increasing caught up in the anomalies of time.
Philip K. Dick would be proud.
Them Bones (1984)
Four divergent alternate histories form the core of this novel. One closely resembles our own and
another where the southwestern Amerindian mound-builders still exist. The third is from a near future where
man has ravaged the planet in a flurry of radiation, germ warfare and chemical pollution. The three
come together to tell the tale of a military expedition travelling to the past to alter the future. Expecting
Louisiana in the mid-1930s, they ended up in a world where Aztecs sacrifice humans to their
gods on the banks of the Mississippi and Arabs explored America by steamboat. Christianity and the Roman Empire never existed.
The complex threads come together, converging in a poignant story that transcends all timelines' differences.
In the Drift (1985)
The meltdown at Three Mile Island in 21st century Pennsylvania created the zone
of death known as the Drift. Monsters and mutations emerged from the south where the horizon
glitters in radioactive colours. Keith Piotrowicz is stuck in the Drift. A chance meeting with
a female scholar, Fletch, who is on the run, gives him the knowledge he needs. The secret
can turn his life around. He becomes a Mummer and, as Mummers Day dawns fresh and sweet, he
takes that first step. In The Drift is rather episodic in nature, it appears to be written
in pieces. But that is of small notice for Swanwick has a unique style, he uses words as if they
were his last -- evocative and declarative.
The Hercules Text (1986)
Harry Carmichael is sitting around one day watching comets. A signal from deep space
appears on one of the monitors. It isn't the usual type -- a non-repeating random noise.
It seems to be continuous and regular. Had man finally found life elsewhere in the universe?
If so, what did the signal from a remote corner of the galaxy portend for Earth? It soon
becomes apparent that things were going to change and nobody can stop the chain reactions this
knowledge would cause. The novel focuses its attention on the
people who have something to win and on those who have something to lose and how politics
and society react to these possible changes. The science of signal decryption makes for fascinating
reading but it is the characters who make this a taut thriller. Written before Carl Sagan's Contact,
McDevitt infuses the search for answers and the lengths groups will go to preserve their
spot in the food chain with a thoughtful insights and vivid prose.
The Net (1987)
Jason Horiuchi could best be characterized as a privateer but most folks who run
into her and her band of loyal thugs think of her as pirate scum. She is a
galaxy-wide adventurer looking for fun and for profit where it can be found regardless of whose
wealth it is. Oddly enough, Jason was born into fantastic wealth but events
turned her to a life of crime along with her associates -- Bear, Lys and Lynch. Contact
with Alecko Papanddreou leads her into a heist by a telepath with a grudge.
It doesn't quite work out as she had expected. She soon finds herself
mired in a game where double-crossing and vengeance could cost Jason everything
she's worked for including the lives of her and her crew. Geez, space opera
at its best from an author who made his first sale with this novel.
Jonny Qabbala is a small-time hood in 21st century LA -- a city run by crime gangs
and policed by a mob called the Committee of Public Health. Supposedly, there is a war going on with
a group of aliens living on the Moon but nobody is certain. More immediate for LA is a
virulent disease spreading throughout the city -- bio-weapons some say. It is part virus,
part bacteria and one of Jonny's bosses, Conover, seems to have something to do
with the spread of the disease. Jonny is drawn into this mystery bit by bit but he
doesn't understand why and how, only that he better start figuring it out fast. He stumbles
over clues and soon it is apparent that events elsewhere impinge upon it and he'd
better pay more attention to what is going on elsewhere in the world and out of it.
The Tides of God (1989)
It is the 33rd century, the Earth has banished war, starvation and disease. All the world is content,
making great strides toward that utopia most folks figure is the whole point of civilization. One day
the all-powerful enemy returns, bringing with it the horrors that the people have worked so hard to
eliminate. Not content to subject themselves to these forces again, a spaceship is launched to
intercept and destroy that which brings the devastation. No one aboard knows what they will find at
the end of the flight but some seem to think that it just might be what history calls God. And their
plan calls for God's death. Skip this novel if religion in SF is of interest and go straight to
most of James Morrow books or to Heinlein's The Day After Tomorrow.
The Oxygen Barrons (1990)
A war for scarce commodities causes a man of science, Galvanix, and a woman of war, Taggart, to team up
with the hope of preventing the anticipated destruction of what man has wrought. Set on the Moon,
where warring factions struggle for control, this novel of point-counterpoint moves needed to preserve
the essentials of life -- water, oxygen, minerals -- leaves the reader in thrall to the complexities of
maintaining some form of society while governments sling their accusatory arrows at one
another. The young, frail Lunar Republic is the gem over which all the contestants scramble.
Black Snow Days (1990)
This one is a real puzzler. I remember reading it but not what it was about. So with the help of a kind site visitor,
here is the blurb:
"Eric Pope crashed into a wall... Twelve years later, he wakes from a
coma to find the world destroyed by war -- and his body and mind rebuilt
into something more and less than human. Eric is now the only man who
can survive in the deadly black snow outside the Tank. The half-mad
survivors of the war see him as their promised savior: And what's been
done to his mind is even more alarming; another personality lives
withing him, an independent intelligence that is his own female self..."