Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Caryatids-Bruce Sterling

The Caryatids
Bruce Sterling
Del Rey, Feb 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345460622

In 2060 the world has changed from nations competing for resources into three major groups fighting one another for supremacy of an earth beyond the brink of pandemic collapse. Each wants control of the dwindling resources once coveted by countries. Headquartered in Los Angeles is the Dispensation based on the amalgamation of money, entertainment and high tech. The Green crowd Acquis still hopes to build a utopia on the dying planet. Finally the only nation still breathing, China survives by destroying its people as expendable pawns.

In addition to the geo-political-corporate rivals, there also exist three Caryatids female clones of a Balkan war criminal living on a space station and their brother. The Dispensation control Radmila tries everything to ignore her roots. The Acquis own Vera who wants to save her birthplace Mljet Island, Croatia. In China Sonja is a highly regarded medical expert who risks her life to help others. Finally there is also their brother Djordje the businessman. With the globe nearing its final death, Dispensation’s John Montgomery Montalban, husband to Radmila and lover of Vera and Sonja, tries to unite the Caryatid women in a desperate Hail Mary plan. His problem is that the female clones hate one another almost as much as they loathe their orbiting mother.

This is a superb cautionary science fiction thriller that makes the case that even a super-person or three is not enough to clean up mankind’s path of environmental destruction as long as world leaders and complacent people prefer to bushwhack with alibis any efforts to turn around the trends. The wannabe hero has a superego that has him believe only he can broker the deal to save the world. Fascinatingly the titled females share much in common as clones and with their hatred, but each is different in outlook bringing uniqueness to the mix. Although the story line in some ways feels like three novellas (each female’s tale) tied together with a save the world in spite of humanity overarching theme, fans will relish this post-apocalyptic dying earth saga.

Harriet Klausner

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