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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Spin State: A Sci-Fi Thriller

Yesterday I finished reading a book called Spin State by Chris Moriarty, an extremely talented writer whose imagination has no boundaries. This is her first novel and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick, John Campbell, Spectrum and Prometheus Awards. I urge you to read it if you, like me, are a Sci-Fi fan (or even if you’re not. Reading it might make you one).

However, it is tough reading. The story is convoluted. It requires the handling of simultaneous existence in real space, in spinstream (the flow of data used in quantum entanglement), the past, the future, and virtual reality. Moriarty’s management of these complexities is remarkable, and almost always understandable. But it does require careful reading and sometimes rereading. The platform for the story is based on some of the concepts of quantum mechanics––– for example Bose-Einstein condensates that allow instantaneous communication and teleportation. These ideas are difficult to understand even if one is acquainted with the present day scientific literature in this area. Nevertheless, Moriarty does a good job of allowing the reader to catch the drift of this arcane material.

The protagonists are Catherine Li, a UN officer who masquerades as 3/4 human but is really a genetic “construct,” and Cohen, a disembodied AI who communicates in either spinstream or by using “shunts,” (people who have had devices implanted that allow them to be operated by AI’s, or even other people). And there are plenty of villains, but I won’t go into them.

The story features an Earth in ecologic collapse and is essentially uninhabited; a humanity that has migrated to nearby star systems; and Space that is divided into two hostile groups: the Space occupied by the Syndicates who manufacture their members as genetic constructs (post humans), and human Space run by a the “UNSec,” a supposed descendant of the United Nations. Humans can be “augmented” by wetware interfaces so that they can interact with the spinstream.

The story is complicated, fast-moving, and well constructed. It concerns the death (presumably murder) of a brilliant scientist involved in the study of the mining of Bose-Einstein condensates. Catherine Li is sent to investigate the scientist’s death and is aided by Cohen. They are thrown into a page turning plot involving a struggle between the UN forces and the Syndicates.

As a science-fiction writer myself, I found Spin State is one of the top ten Sci-Fi books I’ve read. I’m ready to begin its sequel, called Spin Control, which I will someday review on this blog.

One Response to “Spin State: A Sci-Fi Thriller”

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