Counting Heads

Counting Heads

Book - 2005
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Baker & Taylor
On a twenty-second-century Earth where life expectancy has increased to span centuries and robots perform most of society's work, a ragtag ensemble of unlikely heroes join forces to save the frozen living head of an assassinated leading citizen's daughter, who represents humanity's only protection against a genocide plot by wealthy immortals. A first novel.

McMillan Palgrave
Counting Heads is David Marusek's extraordinary launch as an SF novelist: The year is 2134, and the Information Age has given rise to the Boutique Economy in which mass production and mass consumption are rendered obsolete. Life extension therapies have increased the human lifespan by centuries. Loyal mentars (artificial intelligence) and robots do most of society's work. The Boutique Economy has made redundant ninety-nine percent of the world's fifteen billion human inhabitants. The world would be a much better place if they all simply went away.
Eleanor K. Starke, one of the world's leading citizens is assassinated, and her daughter, Ellen, is mortally wounded. Only Ellen, the heir to her mother's financial empire, is capable of saving Earth from complete domination plotted by the cynical, selfish, immortal rich, if she, herself, survives. Her cryonically frozen head is in the hands of her family's enemies. A ragtag ensemble of unlikely heroes join forces to rescue Ellen's head, all for their own purposes.
Counting Heads arrives as a science fiction novel like a bolt of electricity, galvanizing readers with an entirely new vision of the future. It's the debut of the year in SF.


Blackwell North Amer
The year is 2134, and the living is easy. The Information Age has given rise to the Boutique Economy, in which mass production and mass consumption are rendered obsolete. Almost everything one needs - clothing, food, furniture, medicine, electronics, etc. - can be easily fabricated in the home with nanotech assemblers. Life-extension therapies have increased the human life span by centuries. Loyal mentars (artificial intelligence) and robots do most of society's work. What they can't manage is performed by a contented labor force of human clones.
If this sounds like paradise, it is - but only as long as you make your payments. And that's the problem. The Boutique Economy has made redundant 99 percent of the world's fifteen billion human inhabitants. The world would be a much better place if they all simply went away. And conditions on Earth are about to get a lot worse.
Without much in the way of public debate, greater Chicagoland announces the deactivation of its canopy. Its canopy is a region-wide filtering dome structure that protects the city from airborne and waterborne viruses, toxins, and nanobots (a legacy of the terror wars of the mid-twenty-first century).
By 9:00 A.M. on the date Chicagoland plans to "break out of its shell" - its region-wide canopy will be deactivated during a ceremony with fireworks - the day has swerved off its tracks. Eleanor K. Starke, one of the world's leading citizens, is assassinated, and her daughter, Ellen, is mortally wounded. Her cryonically frozen head is in the hands of her family's enemies.
A ragtag ensemble of unlikely heroes joins forces to rescue Ellen's head, all for their own purposes. They include family retainers and friends and their artificial intelligence mentars and cloned human helpers, as well as destitute chartists, assorted robots, and a defrocked bishop of a radical Gaiaist movement.

Publisher: New York : Tor, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780765312679
0765312670
Branch Call Number: SF MARUSEK
SF MARUSEK
Characteristics: 336 p

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s
sanspeur
Apr 04, 2010

The description is of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

e
erigami
Feb 15, 2010

This book is a blast. It has all of the tropes you'd expect in cyberpunk: massive corporations that rule the world; clone armies; loyal AI retainers; and inscrutable robots on a morally ambiguous mission. Despite that, it remains a light and enjoyable read.

The story is simple: the president of a corporate conglomerate is lost in a crash, her head stored away in a cryogenic container. The good guys want her head back in one piece, while the baddies want to finish her off.

Although there's lots of world building, there isn't much depth: we get to know some of the characters, but the ins and outs of the future world aren't explored too closely. Yeah, there's overpopulation, a ban on unlicensed human reproduction, rampant nanotech terrorism, and rejuvenation treatments; but those are used as part of the setting.

The book contains a few inexplicable events and scenes that feel more like they're there for atmosphere rather than moving the plot along. But they're fun to read, so I can't complain too loudly.

The writing is strong. The Marusek ties four or five plot lines together for a tight ending that is well paced and explicable. Most of the characters are well drawn, with interesting personalities and backgrounds.

Overall: it's a great genre book. If you enjoy cyberpunk, or any near future SF, you'll probably enjoy it. For what it is: highly recommended.

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