I read this book about 15-Aug-2006. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2005. This note was last modified Monday, 04-Sep-2006 12:47:38 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
He's good enough to keep pecking away at. So far he hasn't scored a really big hit for me, but that's more what he's writing than how well he writes it.
We're still stuck in the solar system (except, maybe, for Ventus, which is the title of another of his books, and which is referred to in this one). But the population is up over a trillion, and it's not mostly on Earth. A lot of it lives in the Coronals, mini-ringworlds with a mirror instead of the sun in the center.
It seems like a brave but foolhardy move to have the back cover headline on this one be "A Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine top pick". That was almost enough to put me off, and I was actively looking to see what new Schroeder there was.
Most of the resources for this come from the jets out of the sun that the anacleptics maintain. Nobody knows what the anacleptics actually are or where they came from; at least nobody who's appeared in the story so far.
Also everybody is wired for inscape, including those currently rejecting it (the versos). Inscape virtualities have evolved to the point that some people don't have real-world survival skills. It doesn't occur to them to swim in a river, or hold onto the edge of a cliff they've fallen off, because they've never actually experience real-world physics.
Wow. "Inscape" seems to already be in use for an office furniture company, a publishing (or "instrument-based learning") company, a wealth management firm, a storytelling group, a design company, a design college. I'm guessing Schroeder means the usage coined by Gerard Manley Hopkins, though: "the unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiate it from other things"
And there's weird politics going on. Is the "3040" that attacked Weterhaven, and apparently all the other manifolds of Teven Coronal as well, the same as, or controlled by, "The Good Book", an open-source set of roles and rules for switching between them that's taking over the place of the Votes and the Government? And what's behind it all? Teven Coronal, it turns out, was in the Fallow Lands, areas interdicted by the anacleptics and not supposed to be occupied by humans. But there's a string of coronals running through it anyway—and those things aren't tiny, 2000 kilometers in diameter and 500 across if I remember correctly.
The characters are just now setting out to return to Teven Coronal, despite its being allegedly impossible for humans to enter the fallow lands. We'll see how that works out. I hope this wraps up rather than being just the hook for a series.
And it's done and I hardly remember. They get back to Teven, and things are different but a bit the same, sort of. And we don't know what's going on really very well still.
One thing this book is clearly about is how far off-the-rails an Inscape society can go, and various ways to try to fight that off or counteract it. There's some stuff of interest there. Generational issues are stronger than I'm used to thinking of them, I guess (amusing given my generation). People growing up 100% in inscape may not learn to deal with the physical world, which may matter in an emergency. The book doesn't seem to be trying to make a strong sweeping condemnation of virtuality, which is good.