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Varley John

Steel Beach

Steel Beach Genre: fantasy
Annotation:
John Varley's Steel Beach is a daring, well-conceived work of science fiction. Humanity has been ejected from Earth by enigmatic aliens trying to save cetaceans. Homo sapiens finds itself exiled to strongholds throughout the solar system, foremost of which is Luna. There, human beings live in great comfort with almost all of their needs met and very little to worry about. As a result, they are losing their minds.
Through the unremarkable antagonist Hildy, Varley asks what happens to human beings who lack challenges and who lack any real direction. Comforts there are aplenty in Luna. Technology makes sex changes routine and has all but defeated death itself. So now what? Humanity has slumped into a self-absorbed torpor that would be bad enough if the unimaginably complex supercomputer that controls every aspect of Lunar life weren't on the edge of a catastrophic breakdown. Hildy gains an increasing awareness of this problem as the narrative progresses; and he (later she) manages to struggle out of the cocoon of smothering comfort that threatens to make humanity incapable of responding to the imminent central computer breakdown.
As with much good science fiction, Varley uses Steel Beach to ask what humanity ought to do with its capabilities. He suggests that it is human nature to use awesome abilities for small-minded diversions. We are our own greatest limitation, though we are also our own greatest resource.
The story is overlong, though. The pace drags a bit. More ruthless editing would have yielded a story that was better-paced but still covered the important points.
Though it can be uncomfortable to read (or perhaps because), Steel Beach is quite worthy of the reading.
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hide Table of Contents

  1. John Varley Steel Beach
  2. CHAPTER ONE
  3. CHAPTER TWO
  4. CHAPTER THREE
  5. CHAPTER FOUR
  6. CHAPTER FIVE
  7. CHAPTER SIX
  8. CHAPTER SEVEN
  9. CHAPTER EIGHT
  10. CHAPTER NINE
  11. CHAPTER TEN
  12. CHAPTER ELEVEN
  13. CHAPTER TWELVE
  14. CHAPTER THIRTEEN
  15. CHAPTER FOURTEEN
  16. CHAPTER FIFTEEN
  17. CHAPTER SIXTEEN
  18. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
  19. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
  20. CHAPTER NINETEEN
  21. CHAPTER TWENTY
  22. CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
  23. CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
  24. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
  25. CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
  26. CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
  27. CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
  28. AUTHORS NOTE


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