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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Limit Of Vision

Copyright 2001 by Linda Nagata

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Awful (1/5)

I first read this on the 30th August 2002.

Virgil Copeland, Randall Panwar and Gabrielle are researchers working for Equatorial Systems. They've been developing an artificial neuron-like life-form, nicknamed LOV (Limit Of Vision) organisms. These little critters appear to enhance intelligence and emotions. Since the LOVs are artificial life-forms they are developed in space habitats and strictly prohibited from being brought to Earth.

However, our trio of researchers have thoughtfully infected themselves with these LOVS and brought them, unhesitatingly, to Earth.

Of course, everything goes wrong. The life-forms escape and the action moves to Vietnam where an area of the jungle is infested by these rapidly developing, but surprisingly dumb, life-forms.

Ela Suvanatat is a Thai freelance journalist, reduced to reporting on over-fishing in the Mekong Delta. She's in the right place at the right time to cover this story. Instead of finally hitting it big with this major scoop, she'll meet up with Virgil copeland, get infected and then get caught up in the struggle to save these darling little LOVs, to prevent their extermination by the world government.

Supporting her she'll have two mysterious allies: Vietnamese businessman, Ky Xuan Nguyen, and Mother Tiger, an artificial intelligence.

This was not good. I've read a couple of Linda Negata books before ("The Bohr Maker" and "Vast") and wasn't exactly enamoured of them. This was a more ambitious book, and therefore yet more disappointing in its failure.

I liked some of the stuff in this book: I liked the Vietnam setting (but then I would) and I'm all for nanotechnology and artificial life. However, I could barely finish reading it.

The problems are, I think, that she gets some pretty good ideas, and she's can string together an interesting plot, but she doesn't think the ideas through. Worse, her writing is merely adequate.

In this book, she suffers particularly in that the LOVs - the little nanotechnological life-forms embedded in the human brain - have (i) an appalling name and (ii no real purpose. Yes, yes, yes, they enhance emotions and the idea that enhanced emotions may emulate increased intelligence is interesting, but almost nothing is made of it. Now and then our protagonists worry that their LOVs are making them too emotional, and now and then the LOVs assist them into a state of intense focus and creativity, about as effectively as a couple of Mexican coffees (the Tequila kind, not the cinnamon and cocoa). Wouldn't it have been simpler just to have introduced them as an intelligence enhancer?

I have the impression that Linda Negata started writing this book hoping that she'd be able to wring something better out of these little imps (perhaps along the lines of the Emotional Register of "The Primal Urge" by Brian Aldiss), but in the end gave up and went for the old alien invasion approach instead.

Loaded on the 24th September 2002.
Cover of Limit Of Vision
Cover art by Steven Youll

Reviews of other works by Linda Nagata:

Reviews of other works with covers by Steven Youll:
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