30 August 2009

Marooned in Realtime

Marooned in Realtime, by Vernor Vinge, is a follow-up to The Peace War (which I haven't read yet).

The main driver for the story is the use of "bobbles," stasis fields that suspend the flow of time inside, while being totally impervious to outside forces. The plot is set fifty million years in the future, when a few small groups of humans emerge from their bobbles, surprised to find themselves on an otherwise uninhabited Earth. But now that it is incumbent upon these few to repopulate the planet, there are power grabs, and politics, and class warfare, and a murder mystery.

I enjoyed reading Marooned in Realtime. Vinge paints a world where a few people have incredible power over space and time (though they are far from omnipotent). I thought a couple of aspects were particularly interesting: humans becoming increasingly reliant on augmented cognition (ahem, internet access?), and what happens to people when they can live for decades— or millennia— alone.

(And yet, even in the bizarre new era of the story, some of the human conflicts are still very recognizable.)

However, I thought that the conclusion degenerated into a bunch of clich├ęs and didn't really leave me with anything satisfying. Still, the novel is an eye-opener.

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