The future world that KSR envisions is fascinating and complex. His speculative science is always well-researched. His characters are well-rounded and differentiated, but I am not sure there is much growth in them (though one could argue that the main character experiences growth in one particular area of her life).
I never felt like putting the book down: the characters were compelling, the plot was interesting, and the vision of how people will live and engage in society was an interesting evolution from today. He too long to get to the primary plot conflict, and when I read the last words I thought, ‘interesting, but so what?’ It took me writing this review to ferret out a deeper meaning.
Society could go in two different directions: the first symbolized by those still on earth (balkanized, self-focused, and corrupt), the second symbolized by those in the rest of the Solar System (an attempt at social utopianism where goods, gender, religion, and race are all intermixed and equal). Yet it turns out that both end up with problems, conflict, and violence. One could then conclude that, as the main character did, the meaningful goal is the love of a suitable husband or wife for life (which is a religious theme).
I did not find this novel as compelling as his Mars trilogy (Red Mars). If you enjoy KSR, you should probably read this book. Likewise, if you fancy hard SF and complex future worlds, you will probably find this one fascinating.
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