Three things to note before you read on :
- Thing One the First – it’s freely online on Tor.com here
- Thing Two the Second – the introductory paragraph gives too much about the story away
- Thing Three the Third – it’s not a standalone novelette, but is a bridge between Watt’s well-received ‘Blindsight’ novel and it’s evidently imminent successor
And for me the latter point is the most pertinent, and I wouldn’t have spent 45minutes of my life reading the story had I known this fact!
And for you the first two points may also be important, and you need to know that the rest of this review does a Big Number Two.
The story has two halves : taut first half which pitches into some hi-tech military action, with The Colonel battling against a Hive mind, less taut second half in which there is lots of discussion between a hive minder and The Colonel, addressing moral, ethical and social-political issues around hive mindery on Earth. And then a final meeting between The Colonel and his uploaded wife.
If you’ve read ‘Blindsight’ and are awaiting the sequel this story will be, as the Dutch say ‘een must’. If you’re not, much as the Watts hi-tech and science are great to read, it’s not the best read.
Why oh why can’t Tor (who’ve done it before) let the reader know if it’s a ‘proper’ standalone story, or what in effect amounts to a novel extract.