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Wil McCarthy
Orion Millennium, 310 pages

Chris Moore
Wil McCarthy
Wil McCarthy was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1966. In 1984, he moved to Boulder, Colorado to attend the University of Colorado. He worked as an aerospace engineer for the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Denver designing satellite orbits for the Titan series of rockets for NASA and the Department of Defense. He is now a robotics engineer at Omnitech.

Wil McCarthy Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Bloom
Review & Interview: Bloom
Review: Bloom
Publisher: Bloom
Quiz: Bloom
Review: Fall of Sirius

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

It has been twenty years since humanity was driven from Earth and the Inner System by a runaway Bloom of mycora, a [nano] "technologically generated lebensform" (TGL) that has eaten all of Earth's life, and most of its crust. Humans have retreated to the moons of Jupiter and the asteroids -- the Immunity (Munies) and Gladholders, respectively -- where constant vigilance is required to keep the Mycosystem at bay. The mycora are generally thought to have been created in an industrial accident, but human malice -- or an extrasolar origin -- can't be ruled out.

The viewpoint character (who isn't the strong point of the book, but is more believable than his girlfriend), is a part-time newsnet columnist on Ganymede, a member-state of the Immunity -- a rather Teutonic, no-nonsense culture, contrasted nicely with the more laid-back, Latinate culture in the Gladholdings. The Gladholders appear to be more technically advanced.

The Munies are sending a well-protected (they hope) ship to the Inner System -- the first since the Evacuation -- to plant sensors and scout the Mycosystem. The ship leaves early, after a sabotage attempt, and makes an unscheduled stop in the Gladholdings for fuel and supplies...

Beh. I didn't set out to write a plot summary. As in many SF novels, the plot and characters are there to support the Neat Ideas -- of which there are lots. And McCarthy writes in a crisp modern style that is more than adequate.

Did I mention the ladderdown transmutation reactors? The cryonic witch's tits? The Philusburg Optima (release 1.4) phage?

Hmmph. Am I getting info across here? Sometimes these reviews just about write themselves. Other times, like now, I end up with disjointed bits and pieces all over the screen... What I'm trying to say is, this is a really neat book. If you like the Good Hard Stuff -- Vernor Vinge, Greg Egan, Linda Nagata, Walter Jon Williams -- this is your kind of book. So go read it, OK? And let me know what you think.

And, if you like Bloom, go back and read Aggressor Six, his very impressive 1994 debut novel. And read The Fall of Sirius (1996), sequel to Aggressor Six -- it's another first-rate book, arguably better than Bloom. His "Waister" alien invaders are convincing -- and chilling.

I've now read all five of McCarthy's novels. All are well-extrapolated, well-thought-out hard-SF, which is my SFnal meat-and-potatoes. Three (Aggressor Six, The Fall of Sirius, Bloom) are outstanding books. Murder in the Solid State (1996) is an entertaining and successful SF-mystery hybrid. Flies from the Amber (1995), suffers only in comparison to the outstanding ones. All are in print except Aggressor Six.

Mr. McCarthy, now 33, is off to an amazingly strong start in what I hope will be a long and fruitful hard-sf career. Five novels in five years, and he's a robotics engineer in his day job -- does the man ever sleep?

Copyright © 2000 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

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