Nefarious Nineties
A mixed bag of sci-fi books from the 1990s


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The Fall of Hyperion [S2]
by Dan Simmons (1990)


Following the destruction of Earth, the conclusion of Dan Simmons’ riveting ‘Hyperion Cantos’ finds humans establishing themselves on more than 150 worlds interconnected by ’the Web’ - an instantaneous travel network run by artificially intelligent computers. As war breaks out with a branch of humanity known as the Ousters, the Time Tombs of Hyperion come under threat.





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Beggars in Spain
by Nancy Kress (1993)


A group of children are genetically modified so that they require no sleep. Economic recession sees them used as scapegoats for society's ills, leading to the formation of a Sanctuary colony where the Sleepless can live in peace. The hero remains in the mainstream to advocate tolerance and understanding. Thought-provoking sci-fi fare.





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Parable of the Sower
by Octavia E Butler (1993)


With society out of control in a dystopian America of the future, a hyperempathetic young woman sets out from her ravaged home and spreads the 'Earthseed' faith. The simple message that "God is change" strikes a chord with others. A beautiful and compassionate book from one of most accomplished female sci-fi writers around.





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Mirror Dance [S10]
by Lois McMaster Bujold (1994)


By internal chronology this the 10th book in Bujold's popular Vorkosigan series. Being deformed and diminutive doesn't stop Miles from trying to help his cloned brother out of a jam. He runs into a packet of trouble, gets hurt and then ends up floating aimlessly in cryogenic suspension. As always, well written with a humorous light touch. Available in omnibus edition Miles Errant.





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Permutation City
by Greg Egan (1994)


Aussie computer programmer Greg Egan followed-up the superb Quarantine (1992) with this tale of a self-aware virtual reality 'Copy' that wants to live out its life as the real person who created it. By law the copy has a bail-out option that will allow it to awake as original flesh-and-blood. The human version, however, has other ideas. Cutting edge stuff from one of the 90s' top writers.





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The Star Fraction
by Ken MacLeod (1995)


Scottish writer Ken MacLeod has emerged as a key voice in the modern libertarian socialist movement. This book, the first installment in the Fall Revolution series, is a superb political thriller totally saturated with an amazing array of characters from the progressive-left - with a few rads thrown in for good measure.





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Ender's Shadow
by Orson Scott Card (1999)


A parallel novel to Card's justly-famous Ender's Game. Again the story focuses on the training of brilliant children to lead a struggle against alien invaders. Whilst the events are basically the same in both novels, Shadow is told from the perspective of Bean, Ender's lieutenant. Read Game first, but be sure not miss this one. Tried and true formula suggesting there is no end to Ender.





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Darwin's Radio
by Greg Bear (1999)


Tense technothriller sees Bear in top form. A mass grave of mutated villagers, a mummified Neanderthal family, and a new disease that strikes pregnant women - three seemingly unrelated occurrences that prove to be linked to some junk genes in our DNA. The government panics while the heroes try to sort things out. Another solid effort from Bear.


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