Crescent City Rhapsody

I picked this book up at the library due, in no small part, to the intriguing cover art. This turned out to be an error of judgement. The book starts out good. It's incredibly ambitious, tying together aspects of radio-astronomy, nanotechnology, biology, jazz and voodoo. But it just can't seem to tie everything together into a satisfying package.

Part of the problem is the sheer amount of things going on. There are a variety of threats to civilization, numerous characters to follow, and it's all of a worldwide scope. Once series of chapters uses three different characters to show the bio-nano-ization of three different cities. Think of it as parallelling orchestral variations on a them. This is all really interesting, and fun to read. But it's a lot of work to keep track of everything, and it never really pays off.

The worst of it happened on page 411 of the copy I was reading. The radio-astronomer has the following quote:
"I surmise that this is a map from light-years ago -- or at least light-minutes. A great time ago. It will take me a while to figure it out."

I'm sorry... 'light-years ago"? As if light-years were a measure of time and not of distance? This is inexcusable. How does something like that make it past an editor of a sci-fi publisher? If it had happened on page 11, I would have simply decided not to read the book. I suggest that you do the same.

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