Another Greg Bear book, this one not so good. Kind of terrible really. I slogged away at this for a week only to find that I was on page 120, and still had another 180 pages to go. I then resorted to flipping to chapters further on, and then discarding. Part of the problem is that this book is set in 2050+, and Bear makes up a terrible future dialect to go with the times. Or maybe terrible is not the right description, inert might be better. The dialect isn't necessarily cringe worthy like Margret Atwood's corporation names in _Oryx and Crake_, it's just not very well explained, it lacks the flash and challenge of something like _Clockwork Orange_, and is just kind of "eh" every time it is peppered through the book. And it's kind of a shame; listening to a foreign take on your language is often a delightful experience (e.g. the Starcraft II announcers from different countries and their cute verbal mixups and shortcuts). After the dialect, there are the interminable relationship and sex scenes. These scenes make up maybe half of the first part of the book, and like the dialect they somehow fall in this middle range of slow failure, where they are neither interesting nor offensive nor quick to read. They reminded me strongly of Watts and his often terrible relationship scenes, where he just insists on taking the lived and conscious experience and trying to jam it into his biology equations. Or to put it another way, imagine any romantic relationship in any book ever, and then add in a steady babble of evolutionary psych. Viola! An unreadable scene. And even when the evolutionary psych isn't burbling along, Bear's relationship/sex scenes still reads like a nerd trying and just barely failing to sound like one of the cool kids. Biologists, please leave the sexy talk to the computer scientists. :)
Oh right, and the plot. From what I gathered in my flipping, it is more biological/bacterial super computing stuff.
P.S. Ok, I got bored and skim-finished the book. The ending improves the book moderately, so I'm giving it back half a star for a total of 2.5 stars. Hopefully Bear appreciates it.