Permanence

{4.5/5} “The mountains were gorgeous, all limpid shadow and fogbound majesty and she found it easy to forget her problems here. Sheer rock walls rose from the plains to ice-capped peaks, sunlit on one side during the artificial day, long shadows sloping into apparent nothingness on the other side. Half the sky was a gorgeous bright blue; the other half, azure fading to black. She could actually see the clean boundary of the gigantic shaft of light coming from the ‘sun’; it was as if she stood by the wall of a sky-sized glowing crystal, with bright clouds, forest, and towns embedded in it.”

Rue has lived on a space station her whole life. Since her parents are dead and her brother is unbelievably horrible she decides to leave, taking the ship that half belongs to her. She decides to go to the Erythrion system, which isn’t too far away. Unfortunately it costs money to dock her ship in Erythrion and she doesn’t have any. On the way she discovers an object which she stakes a claim to — initially she believes it’s a comet but it turns out to be an abandoned cycler starship, which is even more valuable. Of course, even though legally her claim has precedence as long as she can get to the ship there are others who will stop at nothing to get there first.

Permanence by Karl Schroeder was published in 2002.

Schroeder has created an interesting universe. Human civilization has split in two. In the Rights Economy people travel faster than light and you can see the monetary value of everything in your inscape window. In the Cycler Compact, consisting of worlds abandoned by the RE, their ships travel in huge orbits that bring them near various planets — people and goods have to make their way to the ships because the ships never stop. There are some aliens, but humans don’t generally interact with them because they’ve found that they have nothing in common.

Schroeder brings a fair amount of science into his work but he doesn’t let it interrupt the story. He also invents some fascinating concepts, like Permanence — the goal of maintaining a human civilization for a million years. And vacuum painting (that’s the vacuum of space). And the ultimate fate of all civilizations.

The part where they’re exploring the alien ship reminded me a bit (inevitably) of Rendezvous With Rama.

There’s a lot to like about the book, although I did find a few parts confusing.

I’m a bit behind in my Karl Schroeder reading — I read Ventus a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 25th, 2012 at 9:36 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Permanence”

  1. James Says:

    Permanence is fun! It’s been a while, maybe I’ll re-read it soon.

    I’d highly recommend the Virga series – Schroeder really ramps up the fun/adventure aspects while still keeping some good sf ideas and neat characters going. Although I haven’t read the conclusion yet…

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