Tony Daniel's "metaplanetary"

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Mithfânion, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Can someone who's read this tell me what it's about and (de)recommend it? The blurb on the back and Amazon reviews aren't making me much wiser. It does seem very complicated. Questions are: what sort of nanotech is involved (examples please :)), how does it deal with AI, are there alien races involved etc...
     
  2. scooter13

    scooter13 Woof, woof!

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    There is a bit of an alien race. But it was more or less humans that evolved. There is very little about them though in the book. There is quite a bit with AI, but I found it hard to understand. I am not up on nanotech (I am not strong on science, which is ironic that I like sci-fi), but there is a substance called "grist" in the book which makes up quite a bit of everything.

    My whole take on the book was some incredibly great ideas (and one really outrageously inept one, but it is FICTION afterall), very complex situations and storylines, that are either not explained well or go no where. There are so many characters that get introduced, and it seems that many get left behind. Two of the big storylines only really get going as far as the characters' adventures go when the book ends. One other storyline seems to get forgotten in the middle of the book. Then there are two characters that get introduced at the beginning of a chapter, only to be killed by the end of it (4 pages later). Now I can understand that could have great significance, but I failed to see any in this situation.

    I heard there was a sequel on it's way. But I have yet to see any true signs of it. As much as I liked his ideas, I thought his execution was bad. And because of that I wouldn't want to read the sequel to see what happens.
     
  3. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I really liked Metaplanetary, thought it was an interesting story, and like scooter said, interesting ideas.

    The nanotech involved, IIRC (it's been about a year or two since I've read it), involved this plasma type substance that was used to connect worlds for more expedient travel. It was explained pretty well, not to science-y like some of the Harder SF can be.
     
  4. Soon Lee

    Soon Lee Registered User

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    There's more info at his Metaplanetary site. Click on Metaplanetary guides to get to three essays that were integrated into the book itself. The essays are essentially infodumps that describe the Metaplanetary Universe so that you can get an idea of what makes it tick.

    While the concept is innovative, it's what Tony Daniel does with it that is so good. It's just brimming with ideas. Be warned though, there is at least one more book to come. I felt rather frustrated near the end when I realised that there was no way the story could be wound up in the pages left; nowhere on the cover did it even hint that it was part of a series/duology(?).

    I recommend this book heartily. If you haven't read any Tony Daniel, Infinityplus has one of his novellettes which is an excellent read.
     
  5. Soon Lee

    Soon Lee Registered User

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    Mithfânion,

    Direct answers to your questions:

    There are no aliens as such but the altered forms of future humanity would be alien to someone from the present.

    The explanation of how 'grist' the all-purpose nanomatter was developed is in one of the Metaplanetary essays.

    As for AI, if you can download/upload your consciousness into and out of bodies, the concept of AI becomes moot; all humans are/can be AI's.

    [Edit]
    There is a subplot involving the rights of a person if they were artificial (i.e. not born of human) to begin with, compared to a 'real' human whatever that means.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2003
  6. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    For those who didn't know, "Superluminal" is scheduled for May 2004.
     
  7. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    I am bumping an old thread here.

    From what I've read on Tony Daniel's site, Superluminal (the second book in this trilogy) also ends in a cliff-hanger, and unfortunately his publisher did not pick up the third book, so read this series at your own risk. He has no plans to write the conclusion unless a publisher picks it up first.

    Now I have read two of Tony Daniel's short stories, and they are two of the best short stories I have ever read, hands down. They are available free: A Dry, Quiet War and Life on the Moon.

    After those awesome short stories, I immediately tried to find some full-length novels by him, and besides his sadly severed trilogy, he has written the novels Warpath and Earthling. Has anyone read these, and what did you think?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2006
  8. Soon Lee

    Soon Lee Registered User

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    Yeah, made rather het up when I found out that his publisher declined to publish the conclusion to the story that began in METAPLANETARY.

    I've got the first two...

    As for his other novels, I've not read EARTHLING, but WARPATH was weird. It's SF but has Native Americans colonising space by paddling to other star systems in their canoes.
     
  9. shelley toye

    shelley toye shelley toye

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    Grist, pellicle and merci concepts.

    Metaplanetary link no longer active to a real site - it's a middleman site to nowhere interesting. Would like to read those three essays. Explore the concepts in Metaplanetary. Right now I don't grasp them. Will read it again, then buy the sequel. Fascinating! Anyone care to write with their interpretation?
     
  10. Soon Lee

    Soon Lee Registered User

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    They're still available at The Internet Archive, but I don't know how long those pages stay archived. Grab them while you still can.

    A very thought-provoking read.
     
  11. shelley toye

    shelley toye shelley toye

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    Thank you

    There is quite a lot to read (24 + pages). I am very happy to receive the link. By the way, if you would care to comment on the sequel in a further post I'm sure it would be appreciated. Thank you greatly.
     
  12. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    Personally I found Metaplanetary an interesting read with lots of potential, but Superluminal was a big letdown so I was not surprised it sold poorly. The complexity of Metaplanetary reduced to "I am ultimate evil and gobble you all up" ...
    If somehow the third book gets picked up, hopefully it will fulfill the promise of Metaplanetary.