Science Fiction Though the Decades

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1990: Heads (Bear, Greg)

Chilly Lunar politics amidst a cryogenic quest (4/5)
From December 13, 2010

Having read ALL (I repeat, ALL) of Bear's science fiction library to date, Heads is the last book which I have gotten a hold of. Though published in 1990, it has a certain nostalgic theme of 1970s cryogenics (like lasers and elementals in Psyclone [1978]) and a very progressive plot drive (like Blood Music [1985]). Prior to 1990, Bear produced great early space opera with The Forge of God (1987) and two books of The Way series: Eon (1985) and Eternity (1988). With all the far-flung science fiction being flown around the pages of his novels, I can easily see Bear writing some retro sci-fi when he published Heads in 1990, soon after releasing some operatic science fiction; hence coming to a more central modern-ish science theme.

Rear cover synopsis:
" Absolute zero. The universal ultimate. No one has ever found it. Yet two hundred years in the future, among the families making up the population of the Moon, William Pierce is almost there... In the dark void of the Ice Pit the frozen Heads are ready to yield their secrets... In the Quiet..."

In the year 2010, post-Boolean three-state logic technology ushers in further quantum logic technology in the seventh decade, which allows the scientists of the lunar Sandoval-Rice communal consortium in the year 2174, or so, to comprehend the data coming from the absolute zero experiment. This collective scientific refrigeration allows for another family member the constitutional right to allow a shipment of "corpsicles" (or frozen heads) to be shipped back to the lunar colony. From this shipment are the heads of the two founding parents of the colony- the current day great-grandmother and father. This acquisition of frozen skulls, including three unknowns, which might be able to be read with other technologies held my other lunar families, stirs up the fury of a religious lunar colony. Thus begins the political debate and silent battle which will embroil the best minds on the moon.

Heads starts with a bang, roping in the reader with Triple politics (Mars, Luna and Earth), the quest for absolute zero and the acquisition of the cryogenic heads. The initial one-sixth of the book is a solid lead-in to a prospective greater scope of things to come. However, much of this lead-up is lent to the bubbling cauldron of changing Lunar politics, where "politics aside" takes precedence in lunar communal relations. "Politics aside" does not, paradoxically, take priority in this book. The Triple politics takes up a fair chunk of the remaining five-sixths of a plot but the ramifications of the outcome are substantial to the Lunar communal families. The recently-founded religion of Logologists and early-founder K.D. Tierry takes a number of anti-religious hits from the scientific Sandoval-Rice collective, taking one-on-one the religious Task-Felder collective. It gets a fair bit testy at times, especially when the held beliefs are at serious stake. The book reads much like this paragraph: laden with scientific processes, scientific labels, acronyms, and come-and-go characters.

It is a fairly short read being a 110-page novella, but it is well worth the read for a Bear fan. The general feel of the book is obviously pro-science and anti-religion. There is also  an obvious underlaying foundation of foreshadowing two-thirds of the way through, which any experienced reader can grasp when characters are forced to act this way or forced to coerce in order to escape.

No comments:

Post a Comment