Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Snippet: Vast

October 20th, 2012

Vast by Linda Nagata


A sense kicked in. Something like vision. Not because it emulated sight, but because it revealed. Himself: Nikko Jiang-Tibayan. An electronic pattern scheduled to manifest at discrete intervals. Nikko Jiang-Tibayan. He’d been an organic entity once. Not now.

Point one: identify.

Personality suspended on a machine grid: He is the mind of the great ship, Null Boundary. His memories are many, not all accessible. He’s locked much of his past away in proscribed data fields. He interrogates his remaining inventory, seeking an explanation. It comes in an amalgam of cloudy scents: the clinging stink of living flesh parasitized by aerobic bacteria. All defenses down. “Don’t be sad, my love,” she whispers. “Whatever the cost, you know we had to try.”

He explores no farther.

Point two and counting: status check.

A scheduled mood shift floods his pattern with easy confidence. He confirms that Null Boundary has long ago reached maximum velocity, four-tenths lightspeed. The magnetic scoops have been deactivated; the solenoids folded to a point piercing the increasingly thick interstellar medium. Duration? Over two centuries ship’s time have elapsed since Null Boundary left Deception Well.

Two more centuries.

His past has become unconscionably deep for a man who’d been condemned to die at the age of thirty standard years.

* * *
“VAST lives up to its name–big, important, yet written to a human scale so the perspectives of science emerge all the more strongly. Among hard sf writers, Linda Nagata is a pearl, able to render her complex landscapes in moving, quick-paced stories that linger in the mind.”

–Gregory Benford

“…one of the most enjoyable SF books I’ve read in the last 12 years…I can safely say that it is one of the very novels that has literally haunted my dreams, in that the book exerted such a powerful hold on my waking imagination that come nighttime I found my sleeping brain racing ahead with the story. It’s awesome!”

–Alastair Reynolds

“…Nagata’s vision broadens our sense of who we are and what we might one day become as few others have done before her. Recommended.”

–Tom Easton, Analog

“VAST blends solid reasoning, lyrical prose, and an almost mythic suite of characters to form one of the most satisfying sf novels of the decade.”

–Wil McCarthy

Available in print and ebook editions.

Posted on: Saturday, October 20th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
Categories: My Books, Snippets.
Tags: ,

13 Responses to “Snippet: Vast

  1. Glen Kilpatrick Says:

    Still ineffably good, for the most part.

    The sense of wonder and of mystery entirely unsurmounted by a future _redefined_ humanity still awes me. And for techie types, the thought that went into this time and place is most amazing. An easy example is the “loop” that above character Nikko uses to remain fresh and alert throughout an incredibly long voyage; as I remember it, every thirty seconds he’s reset back. Another not-so-technological but powerful excursion into Worlds of Wonder…, are the very strange Chenzeme, an implacable enemy who truly does not think, act, or look like us.

    I don’t find myself “getting into” a subplot involving children growing into adulthood; there’s probably going to be something that I can discover about _myself_, next time I read that part, and think about it. OTOH, ST:TNG had children who needed to learn calculus (When the Bough Breaks), and young adults making fateful decisions (Lower Decks), but there were no painful transitions. And in spite of B5 being an entire city, I can’t remember any children anywhere.

  2. Linda Says:

    Thanks, Glen! I like to deal with many aspects of life and children have certainly been a big part of mine. 🙂

  3. allynh Says:

    I finally got all of the Nanotech stories in trade paperback and have them on my to-be-read pile. I’d bought the books when they first came out in mass market paperback and always wanted to have them in a larger format. I wasn’t paying attention when some of the books came out from SFBC; at least I got _Memory_ and _Limits of Vision_ in hardback. HA!

    I’m looking at story structure for my own stuff. How to do big story, spread over time. I looked at your Nanotech stories and then Poul Anderson’s _Harvest of Stars_. Each of your books are an axis of the larger events, or key points in the larger story. Anderson’s is only the key moments of change of a vast arc that could have been written across dozens of books.

    – I keep seeing four trilogies built around each of the Nanotech books, with each existing book as an axis that the trilogies cluster around.

    It’s fun to look at “What If?s” like that. HA!

    Thanks for the books.

  4. Linda Says:

    Four trilogies? You’re scaring me! 🙂 I am vaguely contemplating an eventual fifth book in the series, and trying to decide if that’s crazy given the market.

    Thanks for picking up the trade paperbacks! I was very lucky that Bruce Jensen let me use his beautiful cover images. I think they turned out very well with the POD printing process.

  5. allynh Says:

    It would take four trilogies built around the spine of _Tech-Heaven_ to describe all the events that lead to her being able to pull out the kit that rebuilds her husband.

    – Four more trilogies to describe how they got to the system wide civilization of _The Bohr Maker_.

    – Four trilogies to show human expansion out into the galaxy to have the people on _Vast_ be in some lost corner.

    – Four trilogies to build toward _Deception Well_ when the key to subverting the machines is found.

    – Then four more trilogies showing what happens after that moment.

    All that would barely begin to open up the Verse that you’ve tapped into.

    I am vaguely contemplating an eventual fifth book in the series, and trying to decide if that’s crazy given the market.

    Write them and we will buy them. HA!

  6. allynh Says:

    Yikes! I swapped the order of the last two books. I always do that. HA!

  7. Glen Kilpatrick Says:

    You might be coming out with a VAST sequel (or at least another in the Nanotech Succession)??? How soon can we pre-order??? Can I get mine in _teal_? Just kidding, that last question, but definitely not kidding about the excitement, the admiration.

    However, it’s your muse, that part of your mind from whence stories come, characters live & die, the future unfolds. Listen to yourself, rather than to us. I’m certain that many / most / all of us out in reader-land will look forward to the next story regardless.

  8. Linda Says:

    allynh, I’m pretty sure all those books are not going to happen! Then again, I’ve always been a one-book-at-a-time kind of writer.

    Glen, a sequel to VAST is something I’ve mulled in a vague way. For me though, it really is what I feel moved to write. So we’ll see…

  9. allynh Says:

    Like Glen said, we look forward to anything you write, but I really, really, really, want to know what happened in between the other stories. HA!

    If they can write thousands of novels set during the American Civil War, which only lasted four years, think of all the stories that happened between Tech-Heaven and VAST when you had multiple Singularities occurring.

    I’ve watched you guys since the 90’s, the New God’s: Nagata, Goonan, Nylund, Wingrove. Then the system broke and all was lost.

    I’m watching David Wingrove as well to see what he’s doing next. It seems that he is rebooting his Chung Kuo series. He’s taking the original series and opening the story up from the original 8 books to now 20 books. I’m tempted to order them from, but it looks like they will have US editions one of these days. I can wait. At least I keep telling myself that. HA!

  10. Linda Says:

    It’s great to see writers trying new things, but that age-old mystery of how to crack open a decent market share is just as much a problem now as in the nineties. I’ve got a middle-grade/young adult novel in the Nanotech Succession universe. It’s a natural for a series, but despite good reviews, sales are such that it’s hard to justify the time and effort of writing additional volumes. So I keep trying new stuff to see if anything will “hit.”

  11. allynh Says:

    I think you are talking about _Skye Object 3270a_, I didn’t realize that was a new story. I thought that it was an excerpt from _Deception Well_ or just a different title for _Deception Well_. HA!

    I had that trouble with Ian McDonald’s stuff. His _Evolution’s Shore_ was titled _Chaga_ in England, so when _Evolution’s Shore_ came out in mass market here in the US, I kept waiting for more from him. The US side dried up, but he kept publishing in England. I would see him mentioned in _Locus_ with a list of titles. It wasn’t until _River of Gods_ came out that I realized all the titles were actually new books that I’d missed because of the different naming. Luckily the exchange rate with England was low so I started buying a ton of books from and got all caught up.

    – The only thing I can say from the Indie side, is keep writing what you love and at some point people will find your stuff.

    I just now found your stuff again, even though I’ve been checking my list of authors several times a year. I was confused on the Nanotech books because I thought I already had all of them. I didn’t realize that they were now trade paperbacks. Then the cover changes on _Limits of Vision_ and _Memory_ made me think that the unfamiliar book covers were other variations. I’m only now seeing that they are actually books I don’t have. To Amazon I go. HA!

    BTW, _Memory_ was absolutely devastating. When that came out from SFBC I read it immediately instead of putting it on my to-be-read pile. I need to read all your books new and old, ASAP.

    I just completed tracking down all of the F. Paul Wilson books for _Repairman Jack_ and was going to read yours then his. Then read all of the Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont _Malazan_ series, then all of the Jim Butcher _Dresden Files_ and _Codex Alera_, then all the Simon R. Green stuff(I’ve spent the past year tracking down all of the different series he wrote). And I want to finally read Neal Stephenson’s _The Baroque Cycle_ that I’ve had staring at me for years. Plus the _Aegypt Cycle_ by John Crowley. I’d finally bought all of the Cycle in 2007, read the first book, then went chasing after a ton of books I’d somehow missed while working for the State.

    – Time enough at last, to do the things I want. – (Twilight Zone)Yikes!

    Thanks for putting up with the Fan Boy Drive by. HA!

  12. allynh Says:

    Yikes! Wait, _Memory_ was trade paperback, not SFBC. Building the pile as we speak. HA!

  13. Linda Says:

    Yep, I meant Skye Object 3270a — it’s advanced middle grade. It does have the same setting as Deception Well, but is otherwise unrelated to that book — another story in the same city that takes place at a slightly later time period.

    If you sign up for my rare newsletter, I can let you know when new stuff comes out, including short stories (I’ve had three published this year and two more on the way). Sign-up form is at the upper right of this page or here

    Thanks for the drive-by!