Putnam, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
was enthralled by Nick Sagan's meteoric debut in
. In this sequel, we don't see his previous protagonist, Halloween for some time. Hal has turned into a recluse, keeping apart from all his old school-mates since they discovered that what they thought was reality was virtual and that they were the sole remnants of humanity, which was almost eliminated by a disease, '
'. Ten children were genetically engineered to resist the virus by Gedaechtnis corporation and (in the absence of other humans) raised in Idlewild Academy, an '
Immersive Virtual Reality
'. In the first book, the shock of discovering the truth turned one school-mate into a mad murderer, and Hal saved the six remaining at a high personal cost.
hirty-seven years have passed. Two groups are raising a new generation, based on differing principles. Champagne and Vashti, in Germany, make full use of technology, including genetically engineering their nine '
to resist Black Ep. Isaac in Egypt takes a spiritual approach, based on a self-sacrificial Sufist philosophy. He avoids technology, but medicates his five kids to fend off the disease. Pandora repairs inorganic tech of all kinds, and mediates between the two groups. She has been out of touch with hermit Hal (whom she loves) for years, but enjoys the companionship of irascible AI Malachi. Hal is somewhere in North America. The last of the six '
', Fantasia, has disappeared (presumably to show up in a future episode).
aturally, there's a serpent or two amongst the Edenborn. We wonder about the mysterious death of Isaac's eldest child Hessa on an exchange trip to Germany years before. So does her brother Haji, who plans to investigate when he too visits his German '
'. And, like their predecessors, the new generation have their conflicts. We see some from the point of view of Penny, '
' whose diary logs the reader shares - she tells us that she's bullied by her sisters. In Egypt, two brothers take opposing views of their own Islamic faith - essentially, the rational and the fundamentalist. When the two groups of children come together in Munich, we watch the mild clash of cultures that ensues. We also share the thoughts of another kid - an unidentified, rebellious teen hacker.
hen, like the previous generation, the children begin to make disturbing discoveries. Soon, Pandora seeks Hal, the '
Bye Bye Guy
', who gets in on the action with a big surprise of his own. Manipulation at all levels leads to tragedy and possibly to the real '
End of the World
' for this fragile remnant of humanity. As the episode ends, Hal finally puts aside '
Dreams, dangerous dreams.
' If you read SF, don't miss this amazing new series.
's cover tells us that Nick Sagan is working on
- can't wait!
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