Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Spectra Books (28 Dec 2004)
When I reviewed Scardown, I noted that there was a previous volume. This is that previous volume.
The action mostly takes place during late 2062. The world is odd to our eyes, with a United States crippled by neo-con policies being overshadowed by a resurgent Canada, while the far East is dominated by China. Northern Europe is effectively frozen out, with the Gulf Stream no longer working. And one of the most unusual protagonists in SF is Jenny Casey, a Canadian hunkered down in the mess that is Hartford, Connecticut (Bear's own birthplace). Jenny is our first person PoV (there are also third person Points of View following other characters, which occasionally leads to a third person PoV look at our usual first-person PoV Jenny), and she's a somewhat battered woman, 50 years old, ex military, with prosthetics replacing her original bits that got shot off. She wants nothing more to do with the organisation (semi-government, semi-corporate) that resides to the north of the border, and that wants to use her again.
One of Jenny's closest friends is Razorface, a local Hartford gang warlord.
This story is hard and gritty - little escapism here. Characters range from sympathetic through to brutal, and sometimes both at the same time. The world is one that is believable, but not desirable. And the motivations make sense. Some of the revelations during the story were a little wasted on me (I've read the sequel, where they're back story), but on the other hand, the flashbacks that told of how the characters got to where they were at the start of this were valuable.
Unusual, and interesting.