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1. Bloom
2. The Collapsium
3. Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs,
4. The Fall of Sirius
5. Aggressor Six
6. To Crush the Moon
7. The Wellstone
8. Once Upon a Galaxy
9. Murder in the Solid State
10. Flies from the Amber
11. Lost in Transmission
13. Biography - McCarthy, Wil (1966-):
14. Sol 1 - Der Schöpfer der Ewigkeit
15. The Fall of Sirus
16. To Crush The Moon
17. The monarchs of Sol: The collapsium
18. Aggressor Six
19. The Collapsium
20. The Collapsium

1. Bloom
by Wil McCarthy
Paperback: 320 Pages (1999-08-03)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$13.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345485378
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Mycora: technogenic life. Fast-reproducing, fast-mutating, and endlessly voracious. In the year 2106, these microscopic machine/creatures have escaped their creators to populate the inner solar system with a wild, deadly ecology all their own, pushing the tattered remnants of humanity out into the cold and dark of the outer planets. Even huddled beneath the ice of Jupiter's moons, protected by a defensive system known as the Immunity, survivors face the constant risk of mycospores finding their way to the warmth and brightness inside the habitats, resulting in a calamitous "bloom."

But the human race still has a trick or two up its sleeves; in a ship specially designed to penetrate the deadly Mycosystem, seven astronauts are about to embark on mankind's boldest venture yet--the perilous journey home to infected Earth!

Yet it is in these remote conditions, against a virtually omnipotent foe, that we discover how human nature plays the greatest role in humanity's future.

From the Paperback edition.Amazon.com Review
In the distant future, nanotechnology has gotten out of control. The inner solar system has been overrun by Mycora, atom-size machines that devoureverything they touch. Humanity has long since fled Earth for the coldreaches of the outer system, where the lack of heat and sunlight makeit difficult--but not impossible--for the Mycora to bloom.Life in theImmunity is hard, and the survivors of humanity face the constant onslaughtof the ever-evolving Mycora.But if they are to survive, the remaininghumans must try to learn what happened to Earth, and whether the Mycora arefinding ways to overcome their susceptibility to cold. When the Immunitymounts an expedition to plant probes on Earth's polar caps, shoemaker andaspiring journalist John Stasheim is asked to come along to chronicle thejourney. He soon learns that the trip will be fraught with as manypolitical dangers as nanotech ones, and that the Mycora are both more andless than they seem.An excellent SF novel along the lines of Greg Bear'sBlood Music, butwith more action and plot.Wil McCarthy is a writer to watch. --CraigE. Engler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

2-0 out of 5 stars Way too technical and dry - with an ending that fizzles
Twenty-second century humans have been relegated to the outer reaches of the solar system, due to the invasion and expansion of the Bloom. They are a microscopic, technogenic life form that have overtaken the inner planets and space, making it uninhabitable by humans. Safe travel by spaceship has so far been impossible. But a new technology has allowed a ship to be built with a protective coating, rendering it safe from Bloom invasion. The ship will be used as a research vessel, to travel inward from Jupiter to Mars and Earth, through occupied Bloom space. Probes will be released at various locations, to study the mycosystem (Bloom), and to confirm or dispel rumors that some mysterious humans still inhabit some of the inner planets.

The story unfolds slowly, with so much technical detail and explanation that dramatic moments are dulled considerably. The material was too difficult for me to follow, and so the significance of certain information was lost. Characters are not all that interesting. There were a small handful of memorable moments, but way too few to sustain the book. The ending was, well... uninspired. There was a lot of build-up, which led to an unsatisfying loss of momentum, and an abrupt stop.

If you like political intrigue, there was some. But this story was clearly about the alien life, and that was where the emphasis was. The journey of discovery the reader makes to get some answers about it leads through pages of dull characters and duller technical talk. When you meet the aliens, it's like meeting a legendary figure - the result rarely matches expectations. Same here.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
This book definitely disappointed me.The people on Earth screwed up in a bit way, creating a substance called mycora.It expanded exponentially and took over the place, and kept on going.

A few people got away.The rest of it to me seems very fuzzy and furry, and generally pretty dull.

2-0 out of 5 stars Flowering Inferno
What happened to my man McCarthy? He had the fabulous Continuum series and then tried to get all metaphysical on us.In the process, he seems to have taken a stupid pill for we are back to the old Star Trek days of smart,living non-coporal bodies.You remember, the big cloud that was alive or the germs that were smart? In this case it's origin, though never actually confirmed, seems to be a product of Earth. Yep, it's evil nanotech gone wild.A self-replicating nanobot escapes and turns the Earth into goo.A few lucky ones escape to Mars or the asterois or Jupiter.

OUr hero, a reporter in the future, is from one of Jumpiter's moons.Heis selected for a mission to study the Bloom phenomena on Earth and send his trademark stories back to a world waiting with bated breath.At the same time there has risen a group that attaches spiritual qualities to the bloom (the process of converting mass) and have conducted terrorist attacks using blooms as weapons.I won't bore you but eventually you learn that the evil politicians actually want to hurt the poor thing that destroyed the Earth, Moon and Mars.Thankfully, at the last minute, our hero's gal in the hay fesses up - Yep, she's a believer and in fact is infected with the bloom and ....EEEEEEEE.She goes ballistic before their stunned faces but she is thankfully pushed into the air lock.This got our reporter thinking that maybe, just maybe, they were right and the Bloom was alive.

Suddenly, like Jehova speaking to Moses (or more apt, "God" speaking to Star Trek crew in that hokey movie) a face of the bloom emerges and "speaks" to them.Think seances, nebulous 20 questions and "spiritual" qualities and you're on the right path.Mankind discovers the errors of their ways and in the end, slowly we become on with the Bloomers.The characters were interesting but their actions made about as much sense as the overall philosophy of the book.It was a good description of Nano but we've got those by the thousands. Next time Wil should use a focus group before going through with something as corny as this.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good idea for not an easy read
Lots of technical, detailed descriptions about the science behind the idea of nanotechnology gone amuck. If you like your hard sci-fi very hard this book is for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Blooming Good Fun
Really excellent hard SF.McCarthy makes the story both relevant and accessible, despite staying within the world of his story even in his use of language.I'll definitely be reading more McCarthy.

Charles Gramlich
Author of "Cold in the Light."
... Read more

2. The Collapsium
by Wil McCarthy
Mass Market Paperback: 428 Pages (2002-11-26)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 055358443X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In this stunningly original tale, acclaimed author Wil McCarthy imagines a wondrous future in which the secrets of matter have been unlocked and death itself is but a memory. But it is also a future imperiled by a bitter rivalry between two brilliant scientists--one perhaps the greatest genius in the history of humankind; the other, its greatest monster.

The Collapsium

In a world of awesome technology, the deadly substance called collapsium has given humans all the powers and caprices--including immortality--of the gods they once worshiped. Composed of miniature black holes, collapsium allows the instantaneous transmission of information and matter--as well as humans--throughout the solar system. But while its reclusive inventor, Bruno de Towaji, next dreams of probing the farthest reaches of spacetime, Marlon Sykes, his ambitious rival in science--and in love--has built an awesome telecommunications network by constructing a ring of collapsium around the sun. It appears Sykes may be the victor--until a ruthless saboteur attacks the ring and sends it falling toward the sun. Now the two scientists must put aside personal animosity to prevent the destruction of the solar system--and every living thing within it.Amazon.com Review
Wil McCarthy is a certified science fiction treasure. A real-life rocket scientist with a gorgeous writing style and rapier wit to boot, McCarthy continually sets a very high standard for good old-fashioned space stories. In The Collapsium, McCarthy builds on a lovely novella to tell the far-future story of two scientists entrenched in a rivalry that may save, or destroy, the solar system. Tamra Lutui, the Queen of Sol, brings together the brilliant enemies in order to prevent the Ring Collapsiter, a vast ring of strange matter, from falling into the sun. So it is that Bruno de Towaji, inventor of collapsium--crystals made up of tiny black holes that can transport matter instantaneously across vast distances--must find a way to work with Marlon Sykes, who came up with the Ring to change the nature of communication forever. McCarthy makes liberal use of his extensive science knowledge, especially when he describes the nature of high-concept physics ideas like collapsium or wellstone (programmable matter!), but luckily, his literary skills are up to the task of moving the narrative along, keeping us in suspense, and creating characters who are worth reading about. His descriptions of the physical phenomena surrounding the artifacts of high-energy material manipulation are deft and fascinating:

A handful of collapsons in low orbit had become--seemingly overnight--a nested cage of fractured spacetimes, one within the other like wooden babushka dolls, magical ones, straining at the very underpinnings of universal law. And orbiting right overhead!

Towaji and Sykes labor to save the Queendom and outwit the saboteur trying to wreck the Ring, all the while burdened by a byzantine and bureaucratic social structure with demands for party appearances, verbal sparring, and quick thinking. While those of us who aren't physics mavens might quail at some of the terms and ideas McCarthy casually uses, it's his characters and story that make The Collapsium a book to savor, a complex and layered story in the grand tradition of science fiction's masters. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars "Fresh"
I've been waiting for a long time to get a hold of this book since it's out of print here in Japan. But I'm glad they published it again.

Like one of the reviews says, this book's really a fairy tale.

No, seriously, it's a scifi told in a very fairy-tale-y style. Even the ending ends like a fairy tale! But I loved it!

The hero is a bit too whiny, but it works well with the story, so the effect is Ok overall. I love the queen and the Queendom. I know she's not supposed to be European as she came from one of the pacific islands, but the image that always seem to come to mind is that of Natalie Portman as Amydalla.

I also love the appendix and glossary! So unique! It's not creative, mind you - since technical papers do that a lot - but it *is* a good way to remove the clutter of back-stories and technical discussions that seem to get in the way of the main story (a feature especially prominent in scifi novels). The glossary/appendix also works well to enhance the equally novel super-science concepts of the book.

Overall, a wonderful novel with a unique story-telling style that has a "fresh" feel to it. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book "The Wellstone".

4-0 out of 5 stars Problem-solution style SF with Science and Humor
There's a lot of marketing done in the SF publishing world, where the marketing isn't reflecting the book properly. Many marketing departments like to through around the phrase "hard sci-fi" because they think SF readers will think it's a serious SF novel. When, in reality, it dabbles in some hypothetical physics and that's about it. NOW, when it comes to The Collapsium, the marketing department completely left out the phrase "hard sci-fi" for reasons I'm unaware of. The Collapsium is pinnacle of hard SF with enough physics, appendices, definitions and scientific dialogue to easily last you through til the end.

Basically, the book is VERY much like George O' Smith's 1947 Venus Equilateral short stories which a group of communication scientists think up crackpot solutions to crackpot problems using vacuum tube technology. Here in Collapsium, Bruno (the main character and hermit scientist extraordinaire) is consulted by the Queen of the Queendom to help them solve some massively erroneous problems involving the fate the of the sun and Her resulting Queendom. The first problem-solution story takes up the first 25% of the book while the second problem-solution story takes up an equal amount of pages. The last story isn't so much problem-solution as it is a culmination of characters and plot details into one large grand finale.

In between this wilderness of hard SF and plot rummaging is a wide spread of wry humor, which McCarthy expertly sprinkles into the lapses of the plot. A reoccurring joke involves a "freed" robot, which Bruno cut from the House AI so it could it could experience a sense of freedom even though, in itself, has no ambitions. Instead, the robot occasionally says "Mewl" in random scenes.

All in all, a great book except for the predictable plot-flow of a problem-solution-style format.

3-0 out of 5 stars Readable, but not great...
Decent book.The plus side is that it is readable, but there are some serious flaws as well.First of, the book starts off like a collection of short stories but when it finally settles into the main plot it is pretty good reading for a while.

Writing of a future where absolute death is almost unheard of is difficult, because there is so little to care about.As Orson Scott Card cleverly showed in The Worthing Saga, there is no greatness or heroism if nothing bad can happen to a person.So it takes careful writing to keep the world interesting in these times.And Wil is able to do that for the most part with threats to all of humanity and interesting characters.

But then there's the ending...

Very lame. Without giving too much away, a main character dies, is grieved for, and then comes back to life for a "happily ever after" ending.

Don't kill the character for impact if you are going to magically ressurect the character at the end of the book. That is lame.

P.S.One other thing - I keep seeing "hard sci-fi" bandied around in these reviews. I think that is by people who don't have a scientific background because I do and I didn't see Wil's "science" as hard.It is more akin to the relationship between "hard witchcraft" and "Harry Potter witchcraft."This is fantasy sci-fi, not hard sci-fi.It is clever and it is logical enough to carry the story forward, but it isn't based on much in the way of real science.

2-0 out of 5 stars A good primer
Collapsium is the start of a series of novels that follow in its wake. Curiously, the opening act is actually far worse than what is to follow: "Wellstone," "Lost in Translation," and "To Crush the Moon" provide both better entertainment and better exploration of the implications of the marvelous technology that Maccarthy dreams up. Solet us be clear on what Collapsium is and what it is not:
1) It IS a great appendix to reading the aforementioned novels. Besides having a scientific (sci-fi) appendix of its own that explains the (hypothetical) physics behind the technology, Collapsium is really kind of an appendix in its own right, and a decent enough reference to backgrounds of characters that are more fully developed in later novels.
2) It IS a book full of imaginative ideas. Sometimes overly so. Maccarthy's physics is solid, while his speculations on future physics span the full range of plausibility, from "maybe" to "no way!" - but all of it is imaginative, interesting, and good fun to think about.
3) It is NOT a particularly good novel in its own right. Really, the book consists of three somewhat independent and weak novellas: though ordered chronologically they do not share the coherence of ordinary chapters in a single book, and each presents an adventure of its own. The plot (or plots) are not all that engrossing, mainly because they all have a very simple "hero vs disaster" or "hero vs villain + disaster" linearity to them. And since these types of plotlines invariably end with a triumph of our hero, the intrigue is, for the most part, not there. Finally, as other reviewers have mentioned, the character development is somewhat lackluster.

The main raison d'etre for this book, as I see it, is that ideas in it have great POTENTIAL for a full-fledged development. Chief among these is not programmable matter or instant comminication afforded by the collapsiter grids, but the achievement of immorbidity. From this novel alone, it is hard to say what the author makes of it, but the promise is there.

So let me conclude with a recommendation. Skip this one and go straight for "Wellstone." If you enjoy it (which you should), but find yourself wanting details on the background of the Queendom of Sol, its historical figures, and its technological marvels, THEN read Collapsium.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, some good ideas, but nothing spectacular
Don't get me wrong--this was a good book, I enjoyed reading it, and savored it up until the end. But apparently there are more books in this storyline, and I'm just not interested. That about sums up how I felt about this one.

For this one, I want to contrast some pros and cons point-by-point.

Pro: The characters are (mostly) interesting, and I wanted to see what happened with them. It's certainly outside my experience to come across a collapsium engineer, a madman who keeps cloned copies of his rivals to torture them, or a queen of the solar system.
Con: The characters are kind of ridiculous. Bruno is just too smart and perfect to take seriously, and the few attempts to make him human (like getting drunk at a formal dinner through technology advanced enough to perform any sort of alchemy, but not keep dinner guests from getting drunk--give me a break!) just come across as something added on after the novel was written in a weak attempt to make him human.

Pro: There are some neat technology ideas in this book, and they certainly play a part in the plot.
Con: The ideas are really nothing novel. There's nothing here that hasn't been explored, and probably better, by other fiction authors. The author's book Hacking Matter is probably more interesting from a science (or sci-fi) point of view. It's not hard to read this book and say 'Why, oh why if they had this sort of technology would they still do things this way??' If people had the kind of technology this book proposes, they wouldn't be living like they do--their world would be very different. The book tries to cover for that in several ways, playing into the queendom conceit and pushing certain things off into the world of the insane, like making the bad guy the only one who makes major biological changes to people. Why wouldn't people do this to themselves if they could? I mean, people already get tattoos, which are permanent and have no tangible benefits. People don't have a history of avoiding body modifications, and if they have an economic advantage....

Pro: The writing is pretty good, and the book was obviously edited and vetted by competent people. It was never painful to read, and many places were quite well written.
Con: The style is totally contrived, though this is not unintentional. I assume the style is based on the Queendom setting of the book, and how the author thinks people in such an environment might behave, think, and write. It mostly works, but not until you're well into the book. By the end, I really didn't notice it, but it can be awkward at times. In the end, I can appreciate it, but I'm not sure if it totally worked.

Overall, this was a pretty good sci-fi story, but not a book I'll remember a year from now. ... Read more

3. Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms
by Wil Mccarthy
Paperback: 240 Pages (2004-04-14)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465044298
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
"The book's science is solid and McCarthy's fervor genuinely infectious. The future never felt so close." --Wired

Programmable matter is probably not the next technological revolution, nor even perhaps the one after that. But it's coming, and when it does, it will change our lives as much as any invention ever has. Imagine being able to program matter itself-to change it, with the click of a cursor, from hard to soft, from paper to stone, from fluorescent to super-reflective to invisible. Supported by organizations ranging from Levi Strauss and IBM to the Defense Department, solid-state physicists in renowned laboratories are working to make it a reality. In this dazzling investigation, Wil McCarthy visits the laboratories and talks with the researchers who are developing this extraordinary technology, describes how they are learning to control it, and tells us where all this will lead. The possibilities are truly astonishing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quantum dots
I have no degrees in physics, just a bit of curiosity and for me this book was wonderful. A very well written (for laymen) brief on a technology that is just over the horizon. If only half the apllications he describes are realized, wellstone will change our lives.
I was left with only one (whimsical) question about wellstone; could you build a ringword with it?

5-0 out of 5 stars Quantum Dot/Wire , SET , QCA/MQCA , Neural nets
Quantum information encode on each photon; the race is too replace the transistor; quantum dot nanoparticles create entanglement, so that their relative positions determine their effect on another; when arranged in groups of eight, Quantum Celluar Automata (QCA) can carry out binary logic necessary fro today's computer operations.

QCA requires low temperators and the replacement is nanomagnets, 100 nm that mirror the function of transistor-based logic gates and matrix handles the logic operations.
MQCAenvisons a all magnetic computer, operates at room temperature, fabricates easier, and advances magnetic storage industry. Wolfgang Porod created the process of magnetic patterning to produce a chip using arrays of separate magnetic domains.

"For a quantum computer, whose bits can be in two quantum states at once, both on or off at the same time, many solutions can be explored simulataneously.
Quantum dot system exhibits long-lasting coherence.QDOT arrays must be scaleable into large systems. Quantum machine requires large number of quantum switches working together as a group.When two elections occupy the same space, they must pair with oposite spin, one electron with up spin and the other with down. Eight converging wires or gates deposit the electrons in the dot one by one and electronically fine-tune the dot's properties so they would become entangled.The down-up, up-down configuration occurred simulataneously.

1. When a Nlayer istraped between two P layers, it attracts electrons into the middle layer and doesn't let them out.If the N layer is really thin, 10 nanometers, the trap approaches a quantum-mechanical limit, the de Broglie wavelength, and wave-like behavior moves along the vertical axises.Quantum wires can be practically used in optical computers, fiber-optic networks, and lasers.
2. Electrons will arrange themselves into orbitals around the positively charged nucleus; these orbitals and electrons determine the physical and chemical properties of an atom.When the electrons are trapped in quantum dots they will arrange themselves as though they were part of the atom, even though there's no atomic nucleus for them to surround.Which atom they resemble depends on the number of excess electrons trapped inside the dot.Electrons can be confinedelectrostatically, by electrodes, pumping electrons in out by varying the voltage of the fence.Kastner, in 1993 labeled the nanostructure an "artificial atom": single-electron transistor (SET), Coulomb Island, or zero dimensional electron gas, or colloidal nanoparticle or semiconductor nanocrystal."One electron gets you hydrogen, two gets you helium, and so on.Each dot has its own unique periodic table, though; size and shape and composition of the device have a huge effect on how its electrons interact.We can easily call up an artificial, six carbon atom on the chip, buts its structure may or may not resemble that of a natural carbon atom.""Another prediction made by MIT theorist is that there should be quantum dot materials that behave as insulators when they contain an odd number of electrons, and as conductiors whey they contain an even number.""Large collections of quantum dots, along with metals and semiconductor substrate will be referred to as programmable materials."
3. "Quantum scientist have also shown that an array of Single electron Transistor - SETs create a form of neural network."SETs construct computers that use individual electrons to carry information.SET biggest problem is operating at room temperature.Quantum tunneling means the can "interact capacitively rather than by current flow throught the wires.""When their interactions result from the quantum tunneling of electrons, quantum dots can collectively behave as a form of quantum cellular automaton, QCA.QCA computers may show associative memory.If Decoherence can be avoid a qbit can form with a 0 or 1 or superposition state of both at the same time. 5 qbits could handle 32 states (2^n), simulateously; a conventional computer would handle 32 sets of 5 bits, or 160 bits in all.64 bit encryption could be processed with one 64 qubit operation, whereas, a conventional computer requiring 2^64, 1.84 x10^19 operations or 292.5 years, 18 billion billion times more powerful than a 64 bit binary computer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Is the Replicator from "Star Trek" Soon to Become a Reality?
Despite my intrinsic interest in such futuristic topics as programmable matter, the subject of Wil McCarthy's interesting journalistic account of research underway at laboratories around the world, I never know how much I should believe concerning these possibilities. More likely than not it will turn out to be just as real as speculations about flying cars in the 1930s or jet packs for everyone in the 1950s or...I could go on and on. In "Hacking Matter" McCarthy lays out a story as fantastic as any concocted by a master of science fiction. It has the attraction of ancient alchemy--of Midas turning anything to gold with his touch or Rumplestiltskin's spinning of straw into gold--and may be just about as real.

But there is a serious side to this, and McCarthy does a service by discussing the research underway to manipulate matter at the level of the molecule. Scientists already understand the process, and the very real science of nanotechnology is built on this knowledge. The U.S. Department of Defense, other government agencies, and some corporations are investing in this future technology. Their reasons for doing so are obvious, if we can transform one type of matter into another with the click of a mouse button the potential is incredible. Materials precious and difficult to obtain may be acquired quickly, easily, and safely. The potential to completely change the physical existence of all humanity should be apparent. This is a fascinating story, one that is probably realizable perhaps centuries in the future, that is if it realizable at all. But it is a fascinating line of scientific inquiry nonetheless.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you're interested
You can also download this book free at

4-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly cool and entertaining
I think the previous reviewers have not been keeping up with the leaps and bounds that technology has been making with quantum dots. They exist folks and they are being used as we speak.While the applications for this technology as discribed in this book are not possible at this point in time, they should no longer be considered impossible.Just type 'quantum dots' in your search engine or check out some of the popular science websites.This is real and it is utterly facinating.Definately a good book but you'll need to read up on some basic quantum mechanics first to really enjoy it (the reason I gave it 4 stars and not 5). ... Read more

4. The Fall of Sirius
by Wil McCarthy
Paperback: 256 Pages (1996-09-01)
list price: US$5.50 -- used & new: US$34.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451454855
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Awakened from a two-thousand-year cryostatis, Malyene Andreivne struggles to come to terms with the changes in her home world, which include the previously unthinkable union race of half-human and half-Waister beings. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Fair; 3.5 stars
Like other books by McCarthy, has some interesting ideas and plenty ofaction.The book has an epic scope and feel, and one does come toemphasize with the embattled protagonist.

But not an excellent book. Adequate entertainment.I thought it was significantly better than Murderin the Solid State, and perhaps slightly worse than Bloom.Good enough sothat you are willing to read more books by McCarthy.

I have not readAggressor 6. ... Read more

5. Aggressor Six
by Wil McCarthy
Paperback: 256 Pages (1994-07-01)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$149.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451454057
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An alien armada from the center of Orion makes its deadly way through the galaxy, destroying all human life in the process, and only Marine Corporal Kenneth Jonson and the Aggressor Six team can stop the onslaught. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Think and Act and Live Like the Enemy
Several months ago I read a first novel by Will McCarthy and was impressed.The novel is AGGRESSOR SIX.This is a novel of alien contact and war.What makes it different from others of a similar theme is that physics actually plays a part.The aliens have a huge empire (still just a spot on the map) that has existed for eons.Long enough for the forces of the spiral arm to have stretched and split the collection of worlds.Lo and behold, almost next door they run into humanity which is also attempting to expand into the stars.The aliens attack and humanity loses.Word gets out to Earth that the aliens are on their way.

It will be many years before they arrive.Many plans are hatched to try and deal with the aliens who have reached humanity's furthest settlement and wiped it out.One of these plans is to train soldiers to live and think like the aliens and thus hopefully come up with a way to turn the invaders aside.This is called an aggressor six; a six-member group that is at once a colony and a family.They train and train.Later they find out that they are only one of three sixes.The other two are a six of dolphins and a six of machine AIs.The dolphins kill some researchers and it is decided that the plan does not work.But the humans are close.The machines are VERY dangerous if you say the wrong thing to them, but the machines understand the aliens.The aliens are getting closer (still a year or so away from Earth).

This is a novel that does an excellent job of creating alien aliens.Not just strange, but plausible in their own right.A wonderful book for fans of hard SF.

4-0 out of 5 stars Becoming the Enemy
Aggressor Six is the first SF novel by the author.Several centuries in the future, Earth has settled the Solar system and established colonies in five other stellar systems using fusion-powered slow ships.All of the colonies, except Sirius, have FTL communications with Earth through massive ansible relays.Unfortunately, an alien invasion from the waist of Orion hit the Sirius colony first and, before the news could reach the other human planets by lightspeed radio signals, a second force hit the Wolf colony.The Waister ships, traveling atninety percent of lightspeed, then moved against the Lalande colony and a scout group attacked the Solar System.

The human government trieddesperately to understand the alien technology and to find some way to counter or nullify the alien weapons.Using memory retrieval technology, they discovered much about the alien language and social structure.However, most of the alien technology was incomprehensible to human researchers.

In this novel, one small group, Aggressor Six, is dedicated to understanding the aliens by learning to "live and think and spit like the enemy".Captain Marshe Talbott is the queen, Navy Lieutenant Josev Ranes is Drone One, Marine Corporal Ken Jonson is Drone Two, Lieutenant Sopho Yeng is Worker One, Sergeant Roland Hanlin is Worker Two, and Shenna is the Dog.All have had a Broca web implanted with the Waister language loaded and available to their own brains.Sheena, a Martian Retriever, has a vocoder on her collar to help her speak.

Ken Jonson is the only one in the group that has ever had contact with the Waisters, although it has all been during firefights.One of the reasons that he has been selected is his prior interest in acting.At first, he keeps having post-traumatic shocks from his experiences while boarding a Waister ship and subduing the crew.Once he gets beyond the flashbacks, however, he starts trying to think, act and talk like a Waister.Soon the whole group is doing the same.

Captain Talbott's superior, Colonel Jhee, is a by-the-book administrator and doesn't really understand the objective of the group.He threatens to cut their funds on several occasions and soon begins to wonder at their sanity.He also keeps information from them.

Aggressor Six soon starts to produce assessments of enemy objectives, tactics and motives, but Colonel Jhee only wants to know where they will strike and when.He also wants that information yesterday.Whenever Talbott and the group try to explain the necessity of working through the available data, he threatens to bring them up on charges if they don't produce according to his deadlines.

Then Aggressor Six learns that they are not alone, but that two other Aggressor Six groups have been established.Their Waister knowledge insists that they must face the other groups.Colonel Jhee blows his top and locks them into their quarters.

This story is an interesting extrapolation of current techniques of assessing enemy policies and strategies.The human forces also have some advanced technology compared to the present and use it to gain a great deal of data on the enemy mindset.The problem is integrating all this data into usable information, so the Aggressor Six groups were formed.

This novel has a few weaknesses, including the introduction of slowlight, the ghosts, and several scenes involving outside groups.These sections rather distracted from the main story.However, the scenes where Jonson is boarding the scout ship and fighting his way out again definitely contributed to the storyline.Overall, the plot was interesting and ran smoothly, with those few exceptions.

Recommended for McCarthy fans and for anyone else who enjoys military SF involving analysis of enemy intentions and capabilities.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent first contact story
AGGRESSOR SIX is not only one of the best first contact stories I've ever read, it's also one of the very best first sf novels. The 'Aggressor Six' of the title is a group of five people and a Martian retriever trying to simulate, and thereby understand, the behaviour of an insectoid alien hive culture before it wipes out yet more human colonies. Intelligent and fast-paced, the novel had me completely hooked by page 2 and wouldn't let me go: the characters are interesting, the writing taut and economical, and the inherent tension would do credit to a Hitchcock movie. It amazes and saddens me that so wonderful a book is out of print, unfilmed, and so little known.

4-0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut
"One part STARSHIP TROOPERS, one part OUTER LIMITS-style psychologicalsuspense... McCarthy cranks up the tension effectively. Recommended."-- Charles DeLint, Magazine of Fantasy & ScienceFiction. .

"A short, fast-moving tale of human andalien psychology. Theexploration... is well done and fascinating. Ilike McCarthy'sdetails. Not many authors can create truly alien aliens,but McCarthyappears to be one of them." -- Janice M. Eisen,Aboriginal SF. .


Happy reading--
Pete Tillman
... Read more

6. To Crush the Moon
by Wil McCarthy
Mass Market Paperback: 400 Pages (2005-05-31)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 055358717X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In the conclusion to this epic interstellar adventure by Nebula Award nominee Wil McCarthy, humanity stands at a crossroads as the heroes who fashioned a man-made heaven must rescue their descendants from eternal damnation….


Once the Queendom of Sol was a glowing monument to humankind’s loftiest dreams. Ageless and immortal, its citizens lived in peaceful splendor. But as Sol buckled under the swell of an immorbid population, space itself literally ran out….

Conrad Mursk has returned to Sol on the crippled starship Newhope. His crew are the frozen refugees of a failed colony known as Barnard’s Star. A thousand years older, Mursk finds Sol on the brink of rebellion, while a fanatic necro cult is reviving death itself. Now Mursk and his lover, Captain Xiomara “Xmary” Li Weng, are sent on a final, desperate mission by King Bruno de Towaji–one of the greatest terraformers of the ages–to literally crush the moon. If they succeed, they’ll save
billions of lost souls. If they fail, they’ll strand humanity between death–and something unimaginably worse…. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars A quantum of solace...
McCarthy's message seems to be that the future is much better-and also much worse, than we think.

5-0 out of 5 stars So ends the tale
Let's not dwell too much on what others have already said too many times over: this book and this entire series is rich in future science that is both relevant and philosophically consequential. A solid "A" for that effort, even if some of Mccarty's stuff is rather implausible.

As far as the novel's literary qualities go, it is perhaps the best book of the series. All 3 books (not counting Collapsium) read like tales - somewhat reminiscent of Larry Niven's Ringworld with the adventures that the characters are involved in. It is effortlessly captivating and does a great job of instilling that sense of wonder that (in my opinion) all good science fiction is supposed to do. We marvel not only at the stuff we've encountered before - faxes, wellstone, collapsium, etc. - but also at the way the crushed moon was engineered, from its collapsed core to its strange biosphere.

The novel's main strengths are thus twofold: 1) storytelling: see above; 2) details: they are what makes science fiction convincing. Think of Herbert's Dune: it was the details such as the water-saving suits and city-wide systems that made life on a parched planet plausible; think of McDevitt's best tales of extraterrestrial archaeology: again, detail is what makes those alien worlds so eerily familiar and so believable. The same holds true here: read the novel and you'll feel like you've seen the crushed Moon and the glow of the murdered Earth. Above all, do read the novel!

5-0 out of 5 stars Close to one of the best, and most overlooked, recent Hard SF series
With To Crush the Moon Wil McCarthy brings one of the most satisfying recent series of Hard SF novels to a close. This series, collectively called, perhaps, The History of the Queendom of Sol, began in 2001 with The Collapsium (itself an expansion of a 1999 novella). That novel told of brilliant scientist Bruno de Towaji, who saves the Solar System three times from the dangers of super high-tech combined with a jealous rival. The Collapsium introduced the key technologies of the series: various types of programmable matter, and matter transmission. The latter technology, combined with an editing process, allowed for practical immortality. This first book was cheeky and playful and rather Tom Swift-like in ways.

The subsequent three novels are more closely linked, and quite a bit darker in tone. By the end of The Collapsium, Bruno had married the Queen of Sol. In The Wellstone (2003) his son, Bascal, was the ringleader of a group of young people frustrated by their lack of opportunity in a world of immortals. The main character is Bascal's friend Conrad Mursk. The two of them and a large group of rebellious youngsters are exiled to Barnard's Star at the end of the book, and Lost in Transmission (2004) tells of the establishment and ultimate failure of the Barnard's Star colony. Conrad chooses to return to Sol, and To Crush the Moon is the story of what happens after his return.

The Wellstone and Lost in Transmission both had sections set thousands of years in the future, with Conrad (now called Radmer) retrieving Bruno de Towaji from self-imposed exile and returning with him to an altered Moon (now called Lune), where the last significant remnants of humanity are fighting a war with emancipated robots. Earth and the other major planets have been "Murdered". To Crush the Moon tells first of the crisis in Solar System politics that led both to the alteration and terraforming of Luna into Lune, and then to the tragic missteps resulting in the "Murder" of Earth. Conrad and Bruno are central to these events, and so are their wives, Queen Tamra and Xiomary Li Weng (Xmary).Much of this section is savvy portrayal of what seems like inevitable political problems - particularly problems dealing with fanatics who wish to restore death to society, and with the impatient returnees from various failed star colonies. Then the conclusion continues the story of the far future war on Lune, with Radmer leading Bruno de Towaji on a desperate mission to, quite literally, save humanity.

The story is satisfying on multiple levels. The scientific (and politico-economic) speculation remains scintillating. The pure adventure aspects are thrilling. The prose is clever, sardonic, successfully darkly funny even in the shadow of the deaths of billions. Conrad and Bruno are very well realized characters, though most of the remaining characters are a bit flatter. (In particular the leading women, Tamra and Xmary, never really come to life.) Lines like "Bruno was elbow-deep in wormholes. Not literally, of course - he'd lost more than one arm that way already -" are simply delights. The ultimate scope of the story is really impressive, in space, time, and theme. The ending is perhaps a mild disappointment - it's logical enough, and the reader is not cheated, but it seems just a touch off tonally.

I've truly enjoyed this series of novels, and I confess to slight puzzlement that it hasn't received more notice. For my taste, this is what 21st Century SF ought to be. (Of course there are other recent SF stories that are also "what 21st Century SF ought to be", such as Charles Stross's Accelerando stories.) The latter three novels have all been mass market originals - perhaps their failure to appear between hard covers has told against them. If so, that's a shame - I urge readers to seek out these first rate novels.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sad, elegaic, almost heartbreaking end to the Queendom of Sol
This is a sad book, an elegaic book, in some ways a heartbreaking book. McCarthy kicks out all the props from under his magnificent, glittering Queendom of Sol, and it falls like, well, a megaton of brickmail. Not a pretty sight. I suppose the author intends this as a cautionary tale. The series is structured as a classical tragedy: the sad consequences of human hubris.

My problem? Let me quote the perspicacious James Nicoll, over at rec.arts.sf.written:"My specific complaint is that the precise technological limitations introduced in _Lost in Transmission_ felt as though they did not arise from the logic of the technology but because the author had a particular direction he wanted to force the plot in."Ayup. In particular, the inexplicable (but, sadly, not unprecedented) error of not designing the Nescog [1] to fail safe -- since the alternative was Murdered Earth, and hundreds of billions of deaths. But, in this case, this is a severe WSOD-breaker: the designer had to face (and fix) a very similar disaster in book #1. Good engineers learn from their mistakes.

The ending? I first thought it was going to be the obligatory Hollywood happy-ever-after, but McCarthy likes to play with our expectations. So it's bittersweet and quite effective, if manipulative. There's a hook for a sequel [2], and a great (nearly) last line: "Live a little. Have some fun."

The "Queendom of Sol" future history is a remarkable literary achievement, one that will repay rereading. The series opened with 2000's universally-praised The Collapsium, a spectacular future technothriller, overplayed (imo) for laughs, but with as dazzling a set of bleeding-edge technogoodies as any hard-sf fan could imagine. The middle two volumes are understated, overlong and weren't as well-received [3]. The third, Lost in Transmission, is something of a downer. Well, so is the windup(?) fourth volume, but it does make you think.I'll be rereading it.

If you've missed the series, by all means start with vol. 1, The Collapsium. From there, you may want to consider jumping to this volume.
[1] The New Systemwide Collapsar Grid, for rapid transit (etc.)
[2] --though the author's website does describe this as the final volume.
[3] McCarthy could have strenghened the series (imo) by judicious editing of vols 2 & 3 into a single volume.

Happy reading--
Peter D. Tillman

4-0 out of 5 stars Myreviews of previous books were wrong(sort of)
I can admit it.this book is just plain good.I had said that I bought the entire series after reading the Collapsium (which was great) and was disappointed through the next two books.I was not looking forward to this book, but this was as good as the first book.Excellent in fact, and I discovered the difference. In both the first and last book, which are good, the plot is characterized by man versus man (or robot) and in the other two books (the second and third) the plot is mostly man vs society (yawn) and man vs nature (yawn).Now there are elements of each in all four books but the main plots are thos I just listed.Let me tell you man vs nature/society just is not that entertaining.It was intelligent and thoughtful but not that fun.The first and last books are also intelligent (which the author has obviously) but enjoyable.Read through the second and third novels (which should be combined into one shorter book) and find the light at the end of the tunnel.The series is saved. ... Read more

7. The Wellstone
by Wil Mccarthy
Kindle Edition: 368 Pages (2007-12-18)
list price: US$6.99
Asin: B000XUDI38
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In his Nebula Award–nominated novel The Collapsium, acclaimed author Wil McCarthy introduced a richly imagined future of boundless possibility, where poverty, war, and even death are banished forever. Only now that world’s exquisite perfection propels one restless young man toward the ultimate challenge.

The Wellstone

For the children of immortal parents, growing up can be hard to do. A prince will forever be a prince--leaving no chance for Bascal Edward de Towaji Lutui to inherit his parents’ throne.So what is an angry young blue blood to do? Punch a hole in the shadow he’s been living in by rallying his equally disgruntled companions to make an improbable spaceship, busting out of the so-called summer camp in which their parents have stowed them and making a daring escape across the vastness of space. Ne’er-do-well Conrad Mursk is just along for the joyride--until he realizes this is no typical display of teenage angst. The children are rising up in an honest-to-gods revolution. And, boyo, things are going to get raw.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

2-0 out of 5 stars Few sequals are good
The obvious SF instance is DUNE.Same here.

Collapsium was a fun SuperScience romp, with some rather nice tongue-in-cheek social comedy.

The rest of the series is disappointing: it's as if McCarthy, having invented his world and its technology, felt he had to keep writing in that universe.

The result is a sort of grim plod... rather like a sociology text set as a novel.With none of the joyful dance of ideas and language of "Collapsium".

As with Dune: read the first, then stop.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Concepts, Good Story
I was first introduced to Wil McCarthy via his book BLOOM.I really enjoyed this and find myself recalling much of the imagery involved.It was a great tale.

The Wellstone series (Collapsium, Wellstone, Lost in Transmission, To Crush the Moon) are proving to be a bit more effort to get through, but they are worth it.I recommend you start from the beginning, certainly, as the world that Wil McCarthy creates is pretty darn incredible.Like any good tale what makes it most compelling is not the high-tech gadgetry and such, but the reflections on the human condition.For example, if you could make copies of yourself at will, what rights would those copies have?Or if everyone were virtually immortal, what would this do to the ability of our children to mature?If we could genetically modify ourselves (even radically), what would the definition of human actually mean?These may seem like easily answered questions, or like questions that other authors have already explored, but Wil McCarthy puts his own unique perspective into these books and points out some valid and disturbing probable results.

My only criticism would be that at times some subjects, some threads in the story, seem to be dragged out a bit more than is called for.I get a sense of sluggishness that hints at the likes of Terry Brooks (endless description...ugh) or Stephen R. Donaldson (endless character introspection...mercy).Fortunately, Wil McCarthy never quite succumbs to such digressions, but he skirts the territory a bit too close for my complete comfort.

If you liked Bloom (and who wouldn't?), then take on the deeper more relevant topics in the Wellstone series.

3-0 out of 5 stars 5% cameo sequel, 95% make-it-as-it-goes
How can this book be a sequel when it: 1) the main characters in Collapsium only make a cameo appearances, 2) when the Collapsium storyline jumps 80 years into the future doesn't even follow a natural flow and 3) when the basic formula from Collapsium isn't adhered to?

The majority of characters in Wellstone are teenagers, one of whom is Bruno's son, the prince. Bruno himself makes a simple cameo as the king of the Queendom and plays no major role. The teenagers are cookie cutter material compared to the invention of Bruno from Collapsium. Bruno was a driving force in Collapsium and really complimented McCarty's mix of hard science and wry wit. However, without Bruno the plot from Collapsium doesn't flow into Wellstone nor are the key ingredients adhered to. Wellstone reads NOTHING like Collapsium and if you enjoyed Collapsium, be happy that you did and stop the series where it started. The problem-solution progressive method of writing in Collapsium heralded back to George O. Smith's Venus Equilateral and proved to be an effective writing style for McCarthy. In Wellstone, this method was, again, used but not as obvious as it was in Collapsium. The teenagers needed use their intelligence to find ways of thwarting their captors, their elders and even each other.

All in all, it was a semi-interesting book but calling it a sequel to Collapsium simply because it uses the same science and uses a few characters in cameo doesn't mesh well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Sequal
This is a very interesting sequal to Collaspsium, continuing Mr. McArthy's well thought out "science-magic" witha good dose of Lord of the Flies.He has moved the series in a quantum direction and I'll reserve further judgement until I finish book 3.

If you enjoy hard science fiction with high brow humor then you should certainly like this novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent examination of the problems of immortality
The Wellstone is the sequel to Wil McCarthy's The Collapsium, set some time later. Tech called fax filters has led to practical immortality (or immorbidity), which is a problem for the children. What will they do when they grow up? Their parents aren't about to vacate their jobs, for the most part. Some of these kids turn delinquent as a result -- or perhaps they would have been that way in any case. A number of kids are being disciplined by confinement to Camp Friendly, a "summer camp" located on a tiny "planette". One of these kids is the POV character, a young engineer named Conrad Mursk. Another is the Crown Prince Bascal, the son of Bruno de Towaji (hero of The Collapsium) and the Queen. Bascal is extremely talented, a noted poet and a born leader, and he is very rebellious, as well as very spoiled. He incites the boys to an act of sabotage -- they escape via fax to Denver and release a dangerous substance that turns programmable matter to junk. They are soon captured, and Bascal's furious parents return them to Camp Friendly, with even stricter confinement (no working Fax gates).

But Bascal is not to be thwarted. With Conrad's sometimes reluctant help, with the help of a semi-accidental recruit, a teenaged girl named Xmary who was arrested by mistake in the earlier incident, and with the continued help of Bascal's less intelligent henchmen, he hatches another audacious plot. They use the properties of programmable matter to create"homemade" solar sailship from the planette, and they head for the nearest working Fax gate. But a surprise awaits them there ...

I thought this even a better book than The Collapsium. It lacks the previous book's almost insouciant inventiveness -- the "Tom Swift" nature I referred to above. But the characters are done better, in particular Conrad himself, and Bascal as seen byonrad. Bascal is an interesting creation -- a nice mixture of admirable and dangerous characteristics. Conrad and Xmary are nicely handled positive characters -- their frustration atheir lot as children in a world with no room for them asdults is well portrayed. The book remains inventive, and often funny, with a dark undertone (reinforced by a downright grim prologue and epilogue) that lends a certain (forgive me!) gravitas to the theme. ... Read more

8. Once Upon a Galaxy
by Wil McCarthy
Paperback: 320 Pages (2002-09-03)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$1.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0756400910
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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...in these original new stories by today's masters of science fiction and fantasy. Two time-tested genres test the limits of "happily ever after" when beloved tales like "Goldilocks" and "Sleeping Beauty" are given an outer-space spin. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Lineup
Lest's see... stories by Gregory Benford, Paul Di Filippo, Stanley Schmidt, Tanya Huff, and 10 others including Wil McCarthy himself.The skew is mainly but not totally toward hard science fiction.Some of the fairy tales are recognizable (even named the same as the original), and some are not.Are they well disguised, or perhaps original?Fine reads in any case.Much better than you usually find in these concept anthologies.

McCarthy's introduction is illuminating: "Fairy tales are among our most formative influences, adding a visceral heft and sting to the purely verbal warnings of authority.But fairy tales, without exception, hinge on a supernatural occurrence.And in a way, this seemed to undermine their authority, to relegate them to some other universe where things like that could really happen."

Though not quite up to the level of Starlight, this is an excellent collection by some of the best writers in the field. ... Read more

9. Murder in the Solid State
by Wil McCarthy
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (1998-11-15)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$4.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812553926
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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David Sanger, an ambitious young physicist, attends a party at which a pompous older scientist, who just happens to have thrwarted the younger man's innovative ideas, is murdered. Suddenly it is not just David's career, but his life that is at stake. Are his ideas that important? Who's out to stop David from changing the world?
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not McCarthy's strongest work
Originally I picked up on Mr. McCarthy for two reasons; He is a local author, and I truly enjoy his style.

"Murder in the Solid State" is indeed a tough read for one not already initiated to the authors style.The structure seems abrupt and over edited at times, but the science always flows freely.Through his other works (namely the "Wellstone" series) you begin to see the author emerge as a fiction writer alongside his scientific mind."Murder","The Collapsium","Aggressor Six" and "Bloom" all contain an unnatural flow that reads more as "Comp Book" and less as flowing fiction.His characters seem harsher than intended, and all seem modeled after grant writers and university chair persons (in attitude at least).
With a few titles under his belt McCarthy truly flowers in his later works.It is in "The Wellstone" that I personally saw the first hints of truly epic potential.His current "To Crush The Moon" has been labeled as on par with Niven.I do not disagree with that statement.

Long story short is this:Read the later works FIRST, and if you can take the technical with a little less character development, go back and read the earlier books.They're truly worth the wait.

4-0 out of 5 stars Murder And Early Nano
I have never read anything by Wil McCarthy previously, and he seems to be a decent writer. This novel is a combination murder mystery and science fiction tale. David Sanger is a nanotechnology researcher (the science of manipulating the ultra small, in case you don't know) and during a trade convention becomes entangled with a murder he did not commit, and it gets intense and complicated from that point on..........no more here, no spoilers!

Although it was not a page turner for me (it almost was) still it is one of only a handful of science fiction novels that portray the coming era of nanotechnology, in this novel it is in only the nascent beginnings. This is hard science fiction without any fantasy whatsoever, completely to my tastes. Character and plot development were acceptable, although the ending seemed to be a trifle rushed. Also, the novel could have been a bit longer to flesh out the nanotechnology ideas more thoroughly.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good for a vacation read
I went on a trip down south this march and desired to get a couple of books that would not require a great deal of thinking and would keep me entertained.This book was one of them, and in that sense it did indeed fulfill the need I required.On the other hand, this does not say much for it as a book.

There is an interesting view of the future with the paranoid "Gray Party" seeking to control everything, the uncovering of a conspiracy and the cool gadgets that McCarthy comes up with.At the same time, I felt like the world he created made the mistake that many SF writers do...there is too much "Ooooh!Ahhh!" expected by the way it is written.It seems that it was to make us think it is all so neat.Now, if only I hadn't seen that in dozens of other books out there, not to say bad science fiction movies.

While I found the plot interesting, especially when our hero must hide from the authorities who wield their weapons of technology (hmmm...didn't I see that in Blade Runner?) it was too contrived and to unbelievable.

In terms of his writing style, McCarthy does seem to know some technical terms, but he throws them around and mixes it with "golly gee whiz" dialogue that makes for abrupt reading.His characters (especially Bowser) have some strange element about them that almost seems sinister - but I don't think he means them to have that.

It gets a three star because it did do the job *I* intended, but I doubt the job McCarthy intended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great combination of thriller and science fiction
I loved this one-- it was, to me, the perfect combination of a thriller and a thought-provoking science fiction novel.The novel takes place in the research laboratories of the beginning days of nanotechnology (prefiguring the awesome nanotech of McCarthy's later novel BLOOM).There is some interesting speculation about the effects of longevity on society, and the effects of nanotechnology, but the science speculation is not overshadowed by the thriller plot and the realistic characterization.A definite rec if you like both thrillers and sf, as I do.

4-0 out of 5 stars Makes You Think...
Against a backdrop of scientific breakthroughs and political oppression McCarthy manages to create an imaginative, if paranoid, look at the near future. Nanotechnology is no longer just a buzz word but an everydayelement of life, though not truly understood by the average citizen. Thismakes the perfect breeding ground for shadow conspiracies. All in all SolidState makes for good, fast paced read that really makes you think. ... Read more

10. Flies from the Amber
by Wil McCarthy
Paperback: 304 Pages (1995-04-01)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$6.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451454065
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Struggling for survival despite limited technology and daily earthquakes, the mining colonists on Unua dig up a beautiful alien mineral just before Earth scientists discover an alien artifact that inexplicably rests beside a black hole. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great way to introduce yourself to Wil Mccarthy
Great book. Why? Because the characters are believable and real, the science is pretty far out, but - again - believable and real,

and because it'll satisfy your need to see some folks get through a pretty sticky situation.

McCarthy's a grea SF writer. This seems like early stuff. Get to know a simpler, lower-key McCarthy here.

Read it!


4-0 out of 5 stars Very good! The alien species is fascinating.
This is a great story about a humanity that has overcome war to colonize the stars. I always find the prospect of a universe bound by the laws of relativity a somewhat depressing concept. And yet, the humans of the story go on with their lives and toil enduring decades of travel between destinations. What is more amazing than their discovery of alien artifacts is their daring and ingenuity that allows them to grasp a technological prize and overcome one of the great obstacles nature has placed on matter. The hard sci-fi part of the book is very well written. The book may seem slow in the beginning, but read on. I think you will also find it is worth it. ... Read more

11. Lost in Transmission
by Wil Mccarthy
Kindle Edition: 384 Pages (2004-03-02)
list price: US$7.99
Asin: B000FC1AI4
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In a novel that challenges our expectations at every turn, acclaimed author Wil McCarthy sweeps us into the future as only he can imagine it. Here is a thrilling odyssey of discovery and adventure aboard a ship of exiled rebels coming of age in an eternity that may be a lot shorter than anyone ever guessed.

Brash and idealistic, they were rebels without a cause in a world governed by science, reason...and immortality.Banished for their troubles to the starship Newhope, they now face a bold future: to settle the worlds of Barnard’s Star.Now King Bascal Edward de Towaji Lutui, former prince of the Queendom of Sol, together with Captain Xiomara “Xmary” Li Weng and her lover, first mate Conrad Mursk, face a perilous voyage with thousands of their fellow exiles. The journey will last a century, but with Queendom technology it’s no problem to step into a fax machine and “print” a fresh, youthful version of yourself.But what this crew of rebels will find is far from the paradise they seek.Before long, their optimistic young colony has started to show signs of strain.And worst of all, death itself has returned with a vengeance.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

2-0 out of 5 stars Missing about a third of the tale -- Where's the rest of the story?
Starts out well, moves into a flashback, which is the bulk of the book. At the very end, the tale moves back to the future, but not only fails to explain what exactly is happening, but even fails to explain how things have reached that future point. Isn't that the whole purpose of the flashback? Frankly, I'm prettty p*ssed off and left wondering what the point was.
I didn't know there were other books, and it shouldn't matter. This stood alone up until the very end, when you put the book down, feeling like someone left out the last reel of the movie and jumped ahead to the credits.

4-0 out of 5 stars Inconsistently great.
This is the third book in McCarthy's _Queendom_of_Sol_ series, and the first I picked up (the first two in the series are not available in ebook editions!). As a standalone work, it works: the characters are vivid from the outset, so any missed characterization is unnecessary to the appreciation of this story. Moreover, it takes place in something of a discontinuity with the prior two books: the authors of the Children's Revolution are exiled to Barnard's star... so it doesn't take place in the context of Sol at all.

The Queendom of Sol series is a whimsical mix of Holy Fire (Bruce Stirling) Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, and Michael Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time. Death has been defeated by advanced technology. People can record quantum images of themselves, restore from backup, fax themselves across the solar system. It's fun stuff. But it doesn't entirely apply in this particular story about the colonization of a new planet where resources are scarce and getting scarcer, and children (and revolutionaries) are doomed to recreate the authoritarian regimes they rebelled against.

McCarthy is ambitious in this series, tackling large spans of time, historical forces, scientific speculation, and parallel stories all while attempting to keep the traditional character based story on track. The pacing is occasionally erratic, and the necessity of selecting widely disparate times and places for the individual scenes undercuts the dramatic power of interpersonal tension. Like many books attempting to explore immortality, the reader must suffer characters who are sometimes tired of dealing with life, jaded, and generally afflicted by ennui. This also contributes to problems in pacing.

One other quibble is that McCarthy, despite the virtuoso display of craft, falls victim to a surprising number of "As You Know, Bob" moments. He does so almost self-consciously, as though confessing to a small but necessary blunder. Most of the time, however, he is extraordinarily adept at conveying his background and scientific speculation, so these occasional exceptions seem rather glaring.

Overall, I found this particular story a bit less interesting than the concluding book in the series (To Crush the Moon), in part because the characters in this story simply weren't as much fun as those left behind at Sol.

All these quibbles aside, McCarthy's ambition is successfully achieved: a large-scale novel on a human-sized stage. Fans of character-centric SF will find as much to love as hard-SF readers looking for plausible, adventurous science. If you're looking for "the good stuff" in contemporary science fiction, you should be reading Wil McCarthy.

4-0 out of 5 stars Underrated dark novel of the downside of immortality and super high tech
Lost in Transmission is the third of Wil McCarthy's novels set a few centuries in the future in the Queendom of Sol (and successor states). I have enjoyed all these novels, and I feel they are improving as the series continues. One reason for this may be the increasing dark tone -- the first novel was in some ways a Tom Swiftian tour of fun technology, while the subsequent novels have focussed increasingly on the human problems of McCarthy's future. I rank Lost in Transmission one of the best SF novels of 2004.

All three books are set in a wondrous technological future, based largely on programmable matter and on instantaneous matter transmission. Crucially, the latter wonder also leads to near immortality: one can be maintained at any desired age by filtering software in the "faxes," and one can be reinstantiated from stored copies in case of accident. In the first two novels, we saw how this bounty led to near-utopian conditions, but how human nature represented the snake in that garden. The first novel, The Collapsium, is an episodic story in which the great scientist Bruno de Towaji thrice saves the Solar System from destruction. Here the problem is human jealousy and the great power available from such high tech. In the second novel, The Wellstone, Bruno's son Bascal and his friends, frustrated by the place of youth in a world of immortals, play a number of increasingly dangerous pranks, and end up exiled to Barnard's Star.

Lost in Transmission, then, is the story of the journey to Barnard's Star and the effort to colonize one of the planets of that star. The main character, as in The Wellstone, is Bascal's close friend Conrad Mursk. Conrad is First Mate of the Newhope, their starship. His lover Xiomara Li Weng, or Xmary, is the Captain. Bascal is the leader of the expedition and will be King once the new planet is reached. Conrad himself is a rather stolid young man, though perhaps not so stolid as he seems to think. His goal is to be an architect. He often feels pushed into Bascal's shadow: the other man is much more overtly brilliant, a poet, and a more energetic leader. But this relationship evolves a great deal throughout this book.

The journey to Barnard's Star takes a number of mostly uneventful decades. Conrad and most of the others spend the bulk of their time stored in fax memory, but Bascal stays "awake" the whole way. This more or less drives him mad. Once at the new planet, the group is faced with the job of terraforming a rather un-Earthlike place. They do this in part by altering themselves, in part by changing the planet and its fauna. They also colonize (to a small extent) the star system.

Here lies the heart of the novel, for it turns out that despite the incredibly high technology at hand, the colonists are resource-limited. Over time, it becomes harder and harder to guarantee regular fax updates, or even resurrection from accidents. Class divisions arise. Some people choose to alter themselves -- to flying forms, or to centaurs, or trolls: not always with happy results. Children are "born" from fax machines into an adolescent body, also with less than always happy results. Bascal's grip on his Kingdom depends more and more on the use of force.

I thought the novel was a very effective look at real limits to a seemingly miraculous technology. I found its treatment of economic problems well thought out, and its treatment of the personal problems of people living hundreds of years is also worthwhile. (Conrad's off again, on again, relationship with Xmary, and his increasingly difficult relationship with Bascal, being especially well done.) McCarthy's writing is strong as well -- he maintains a sardonic, sometimes funny, sometimes mordant tone throughout. He has fun with altering his third person voice on occasion -- quite effectively, I thought. As I said, one of my favorite books of the year.

This novel and its predecessor are each framed with chapters set in the future of both, after Conrad, much changed and much older, has returned to the Solar System. The home planet, it is clear, has gone through some terrible times of its own, reflecting yet further complications of the Queendom's very high tech level. In the next novel, we are told, Conrad will "save the world... in a manner of speaking". I look forward eagerly to that story.

2-0 out of 5 stars Come on people,5 stars?
Collapsium was great.End there.Do not proceed.Warning, do not proceed, you will be bored.The first book is great.the second is ok and this one is mund numbingly boring.Yes, of course, the author is brilliant, has an astounding knowledge of physics, writes in a good hard science fashion , lays out a world/universe that makes sense....all that is nothing if the story and the characters are just not exciting.Summary of last book (wellstone)=Lord of the Flies without any killing, on a spaceship, rebelling against parents and society.They create and fly a spaceship that they spun out of a man-made planet.Big whoop.Actually it was ok.This book, those same kids grow up, try to start a society of their own, it slowly fails, and the main character runs home to mama.It was a brilliant description of a plausible future with air tight physics, but little in the way of action.In fact , none.
Collapsium was great.These last two books could've been combined into 300 pages and made a good read.
I bought the entire series after reading collapsium, I regret it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Queendom of Sol Part Three
Here we have the penulimate chapter in McCarthy's "Queendom of Sol" series and in it McCarthy rises to become one of the best science fiction writers around.

Following on the heels of "The Wellstone", "Lost in Transmission" continues the story of Conrad Mursk and the colony of exiled 'children'.

By carefully jumping forward in time from one point to another we are treated to the entire voyage to Barnard's Star and then the entire lifespan of the colony.

If you are fond of writers like Varley, Sheffield or Anvil, this book is definitly for you. ... Read more

12. ABORIGINAL SCIENCE FICTION Tales of the Human Kind Spring 2001 (Issue No. 65, Sci-Fi, Universe Discovered, Short Stories by Wil McCarthy, Debbie Stitt Baker, E. H. Wong, etc.)
 Single Issue Magazine: Pages (2001)

Asin: B003NY8Z1G
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13. Biography - McCarthy, Wil (1966-): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online
by Gale Reference Team
Digital: 6 Pages (2007-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007SHYFY
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Word count: 1522. ... Read more

14. Sol 1 - Der Schöpfer der Ewigkeit
by Wil McCarthy
Perfect Paperback: 492 Pages (2006-09-30)

Isbn: 3453521714
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15. The Fall of Sirus
by Wil McCarthy
 Paperback: Pages (1996-01-01)

Asin: B0012Q4N5Y
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16. To Crush The Moon
by Wil McCarthy
 Paperback: Pages (2005-01-01)

Asin: B002B6QEMY
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17. The monarchs of Sol: The collapsium ; the wellstone
by Wil McCarthy
 Unknown Binding: 582 Pages (2003)
-- used & new: US$14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739433881
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18. Aggressor Six
by Wil McCarthy
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1994)

Asin: B000OAGGUE
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19. The Collapsium
by Wil McCarthy
 Hardcover: Pages (2000-01-01)

Asin: B002HA2QHQ
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20. The Collapsium
by Wil McCarthy
 Hardcover: Pages (2000-01-01)

Asin: B001UWACAA
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