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From the Edge of Apocalypse:

Deception Well is a world on the edge, home to an isolated remnant surviving at the farthest reach of human expansion. All across the frontier, other worlds have succumbed to the relentless attacks of robotic alien warships, while hundreds of light years away, the core of human civilization—those star systems closest to Earth, known as the Hallowed Vasties—have all fallen to ruins. Powerful telescopes can see only dust and debris where once there were orbital mega-structures so huge they eclipsed the light of their parent stars.

No one knows for sure what caused the Hallowed Vasties to fail, but a hardened adventurer named Urban intends to find out. He has the resources to do it. He commands a captive alien starship fully capable of facing the dangers that lie beyond Deception Well.

With a ship’s company of explorers and scientists, Urban is embarking on a voyage of re-discovery. They will be the first in centuries to confront the hazards of an inverted frontier as they venture back along the path of human migration. Their goal: to unravel the mystery of the Hallowed Vasties and to discover what monstrous life might have grown up among the ruins.

Edges is a new entry point into the classic story world of Linda Nagata’s The Nanotech Succession.

406 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 2, 2019

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About the author

Linda Nagata

96 books594 followers
I'm a writer from Hawaii best known for my high-tech science fiction, including the near-future thriller, The Last Good Man , and the far-future adventure series, INVERTED FRONTIER.

Though I don't review books on Goodreads, I do talk about some of my favorite books on my blog and those posts are echoed here. So I invite you to follow me for news of books and many other things. You can also visit my website to learn more about my work, and to sign up for my newsletter.

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5 stars
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540 (43%)
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225 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews196 followers
August 2, 2019
The remnants of humanity hide in the furthest reaches of known space on the planet Deception Well, on the lookout for any appearance of the Chenzeme, automated alien warships programmed to eradicate all life in the universe. They believe their worst fears realized when a Chenzeme ship arrives in their system, but the crisis is short-lived: Urban, a long absent member of the expedition that founded the settlement on Deception Well, discovered how to overtake the Chenzeme ships and has piloted this one, called Dragon, home. The new scientific endeavor he proposes would take humanity backward through its frontier to the Hallowed Vasties—the legendary systems surrounding the cradle of their civilization devastated by the Chenzeme incursion—to uncover both the artifacts of their past and to discover what has replaced them.
Edges is the first volume of a new space opera series by Nagata, who most recently has penned a sequence of stunning near-future military thrillers (The Red Trilogy, The Last Good Man). If it sounds like a lot of backstory for a first-in-a-series novel, it is. Inverted Frontier is a sequel series to her Nanotech Succession, four standalone novels that speculate, across huge leaps in time, how humanity might evolve through the use of nanotechnology. While there is a lot of future history to unpack, Nagata provides more than enough background for Edges to work as an entry point for new readers. I would also propose that new readers then take their own backward journey of discovery and read the Nanotech novels in reverse chronological order, starting with its far-future conclusion Vast, and ending with the near-future prequel Tech Heaven.
Edges takes its time setting the table: it is more than a third of the way through before the expedition makes its first major discovery. The slow burn is worth it; Nagata depicts a human civilization so far removed from our present understanding that time is almost meaningless, and the notion of life correlating to physical presence was long ago abandoned. Its technology a hybrid of human and alien, both near-unfathomable in complexity and capability that even the brilliant minds who wield it don’t always fully understand it. All this background comes in handy when the crew of Dragon encounter something so sublime and terrifying it regards the Chenzeme with little more than curious indifference. Nagata raises the tension one notch at a time as the ship moves closer to its destination, and by the end, somehow creates stakes that even a god would fear. Edges will satisfy any readers of Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Trilogy jonesing for a new “big idea” space opera operating on that scale.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Mythic Island Press for the opportunity to read this ARC.
Profile Image for Khalid Abdul-Mumin.
215 reviews101 followers
September 19, 2023
Absolutely delightful and splendid.

Linda Nagata continues her brilliant saga of a galactic war
between autonomous Alien warships, the murderous Chenzeme, and one particular society of Post-Humans amongst the myriad diaspora of humanity, some seven hundred years past the events of the last book, Vast. This story is the first in a set of three within the Nanotech Succession series universe and I'll advise reading those ones before starting this even though they're mostly standalone, just for that diverse maximum reading pleasure!

In this one, we follow Urban as he comes into the Deception Well star system camouflaged as a Chenzeme war courser and picks up a crew to explore the Hallowed Vasties, which has become a kind of inverted frontier, seeing as the star systems previously enshrouded within Dyson Swarms from whence Humanity emigrated and colonized nearby Stellar Systems and are now disintegrated and visible several millennia henceforth. So...he sets off on a quest from the frontier colony back into the first systems that were colonized comprising the Sol System.

The science, though wondrous, is quite fluid and feels really intuitive even though it's fiction and the writing style is very good and the immersive telling (told in a second person perspective) of the villain was atmospheric. They, Urban and Lezuri, fight a long and protracted war in both real and cyber spaces that'll ultimately determine the fate and destination of the voyage, the future of the crew and their basic understanding of the universe and cosmos.

Lastly, we finally get some insight into the Big Dumb Objects and other wondrous megastructures hinted at throughout the series and this is speculative science fiction at its best. Linda Nagata writes science fiction just how I like it, great yarn of the thought provoking kind! Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 150 books37.5k followers
April 2, 2019
This complex, fascinating space opera/sf novel returns to Nagata's Deception Well universe, but I believe new readers could make an entry here. The characters, and the world, are well presented as a ship taken from the destructive military robot intelligences called the Chenzeme.

With it, the captain, Urban, his AI selves, and volunteers plan to explore the lost secrets of humanity, reduced to a fraction of what they had been by the Chenzeme.

Complications arise.

I found it very difficult to put this down. Lately I've been reading terrific science fiction written by women--this numbers among those favorites.

I'm really looking forward to the next.
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,685 reviews347 followers
December 21, 2019
Some quick thoughts:
EDGES got off to a bit of a slow start, to the point that I set it aside for a few days to read something else. But once the old-timers start to awaken -- first, the beautiful Clemantine -- and another old-timer enters the Deception Well system in command of a hijacked Chenzeme warship -- well. No further worries!

#1 of X, so not a complete story. Fine with me -- I'm ready for #2! : https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... CAUTION: SPOILERS for #1 in the blurb!

Key characters:
a) Urban, Master of Dragon, a hijacked Chenzeme warship.
b) Clemantine, Master of Griifin, a newly-captured warship.
Clemantine & Urban are lovers, having rekindled an old flame.
c) Kona, Urban's father and a Founding Father of Deception Well.
The humans of DW are functionally immortal and very hard to kill. Except the hostile alien Chenzeme could kill them in wholesale lots, back in the day -- and left their functionally-immortal warships, partly organic and capable of reproduction. Bad News indeed if one shows up!
And finally:
d) "Lezuri", pseudonym for a hostile post-human superman.

I can't really tell you more about the novel without spoiling your fun. But if you like star-smashing galaxy-ranging space opera that actually has some (loose) scientific plausibility, this is your book! I love this kind of stuff. 4.5 stars.

Recommended review: Russell Letson's https://locusmag.com/2019/06/russell-...
"Linda Nagata’s first four novels – Bohr Maker (1995), Tech-Heaven (1995), Deception Well (1997), and Vast (1998) – constituted a long future history, eventually labelled the Nanotech Succession. Edges is the first volume of an exten­sion of that series, a sequence bearing the overall title “Inverted Frontier” – a reference to the book’s initiating event, a journey from the fringes of human space back toward its old centers.

After millennia of extrasolar expansion, cli­maxing in the building of star-blotting Dyson swarms called “Hallowed Vasties,” most human civilization has been destroyed by the Chenzeme, unstoppable, planet-killing sentient warcraft left behind by an ancient interstellar conflict. Decep­tion Well and Vast are set after the collapse of the Hallowed Vasties and other human colonies and the arrival of waves of refugees at Deception Well, a planet and solar system that seem to have been engineered by some long-vanished species to hold off Chenzeme attack. It has been many centuries since anyone has ventured away from Deception Well (the story recounted in Vast), and only one of those adventurers came back, but now another shows up, with a hijacked and subverted Chenzeme courser he has renamed Dragon and a proposition: to mount another expedition, this time to see what happened among the Vasties and whether anything out there survives."

Another good review: https://1000yearplan.com/2019/10/08/n... (scroll down) He rates it at 9.1/10, high praise indeed.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,121 reviews113 followers
April 11, 2021
This is a space opera of ‘golden age’ vibe, with a setting initially similar to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, but updated with nanotech, Dyson Spheres and trans/post-humans. Once there was a great and vast human star civilization, but now the only remaining (?) piece is on the former frontier – the Deception Well is a system with a star, a planet and a neighboring artificial nebula, which ought to function as its protector if there is any external attack.

The book starts when such an external attack just appeared on the horizon: an ancient robotic warship of alien origin called Chenzeme courser is on its way to the system. These ships predate human civilization by millions of years, they are remnants of a forgotten war, and their goal is to search and destroy any new civilizations. This reminded me of Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker series, which I enjoyed as a teen.

As story follows, the threat turns into an opportunity – to travel from this frontier location to former metropolis, to find out what has happened with humanity. This is (rare nowadays) no-faster-than-light travel universe, so it will take centuries to reach the goal, hence the name of the series - Inverted frontier. Humans here are notably modified from our baseline and there is a possibility to record a personality, so death is often not the end. There is no IA, but a Dull Intelligence.

I enjoyed the story and plan to continue the series, but there is a warning to potential readers – the story halts in the middle, to be continued in the next book, it is more a part one than a volume one.
Profile Image for Eva.
189 reviews107 followers
August 11, 2020
Great space opera novel - Nagata's big ideas reminded me of We Are Legion (We Are Bob) and Revelation Space - but with more emotional engagement than the latter. If you liked either of those books, you'll love this one, as well. It had a very gripping, tense and well-written finale - I loved the last 25% in particular.

It's about a group of people from "the edge" of the universe who've survived millennia of being hunted by alien AI, and who use a captured alien ship to fly back toward the origin of humanity to find out if any other humans are still alive (and if so, what they are like). Before reaching their goal (which will be reached in book 2, I think) they encounter a post-human godlike creature, who becomes their most dangerous foe yet.

My only caveat: the publisher really shouldn't sell this as book 1 of a new series. All the characters were introduced in previous books and knowledge of them is taken for granted, they have complicated backstories with each other that aren't explained, there is no recap of what happened, and there is no explanation or glossary of the various terms used for new/alien technologies (reef, ghost, instantiate, makers, philosopher cells, etc.). It was more or less possible to guess what each term means by the end of the book, but I think one really needs to start this series with The Bohr Maker to really get it and to enjoy the full emotional impact. E.g. it starts out with the emotional re-union of two lovers that is hard to connect with if you haven't followed these two for several novels already. By the end, I was very attached to them though.

That said, I'm looking forward to returning to the beginning and reading the series from the start so that everything will make more sense to me. I'm very happy to have discovered a really good author with such huge ideas (and books that don't require a thousand pages to communicate them).
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 36 books442 followers
March 13, 2019
My review of Edges (Inverted Frontier Book 1) can be found at High Fever Books.

I discovered Linda Nagata a few years ago thanks to the audiobook editions of her military science fiction trilogy, The Red, and have been hooked ever since. When she offered me a review copy of her latest release, Edges, Book 1 of her new Inverted Frontier series, I enthusiastically accepted, even if came with the slight warning that this was going to be a far different read than The Red books or her previous release, The Last Good Man.

Well, Edges is, indeed, vastly different than the prior Nagata books I’ve read, but that is by no means a bad thing! Nagata trades the familiar terrain of Earth from her military sci-fi for the wide-open vastness of deep space, nifty alien tech, and an imposing threat that’s as mysterious as it is threatening.

In the far future, humanity has been reduced from a vast cosmos-spanning civilization to a small pocket of survivors living in secret from a genocidal alien machine race. The Chenzeme are an autonomous fleet of robotic warships programmed with a singular mission — to wipe out newly emerged technological civilizations. Centuries after his disappearance and presumed death in an assault against Chenzeme warships, Urban returns home, and in a tamed Chenzeme warship no less, with plans to discover the lost secrets of humanity. A small crew is recruited, its mission one of scientific exploration, and they set off to explore the ruined worlds and forgotten history of their ancient ancestors, all the way back to Earth. They think the Chenzeme are the only threat out there in the realms of forgotten space. They’re wrong.

As a fan of Ron Moore’s rebooted Battlestar Galactica and Alastair Reynolds’s Revelation Space series, both of which used the premise of genocidal alien machines wiping out intelligent life to great effect, the opening chapters of Edges had me hooked. Nagata establishes an interesting threat immediately, and then uses it as a launch pad to something far more philosophical and questioning. The Chenzeme, despite their propensity for violence, are rarely seen outside of Urban’s own ship. On the whole, having already extinguished so many worlds and destroyed so many lives, and given the sheer vastness of space itself, they’re largely an idle, existential threat, the boogeyman of the stars. In fact, it takes several centuries before a Chenzeme ship unaffiliated with Urban is even discovered. And, frankly, the life these intrepid explorers discover is ultimately cause for much more consternation and immediate worries.

It’s the worries of long-term space travel that are really at the forefront of Edges, and Nagata takes the BSG-type threat and subverts it with some Trekian exploration and scientific wonder. Edges runs on a lot of brain power, and it’s an intellectually stimulating read that posits some truly intriguing questions and ethical dilemmas. Take, for instance, the ship’s complement of ghosts. Human life expectancy isn’t built for centuries in space, but with a combination of life-extending nano-machinery and routine storage in a cyrogenic-like pod, people are able to traverse eons in what feels like days. While their bodies are in storage, their minds are copied to digital avatars who can go through the day-to-day stuff, collecting and analyzing information, and then syncing these newly acquired memories to the host body once its awake. Sometimes, though, there’s cause for a new body to be generated, as is the case with Riffan, who wants to be a part of the Inverted Frontier journey, but can’t abandon his post and research. Solution? Send his current mind and cloned body on the journey, while he stays home and continues on with his life. The issue of branching history comes up several times over the course of Edges, as people find themselves, or at least their memories, displaced to pursue alternate paths. And what of temporary bodies that are built for situational conveniences and disposal? It’s an interesting parallel to debates on abortion, the sanctity of life, bodily autonomy, and personal agency, although one that’s not deeply explored beyond a few small conversations between Riffan and Urban. Still, it raises excellent questions and offers plenty of food for thought, and provides some very interesting meditations on cloning and the nature of individuality versus ownership.

While the bulk of Edges is interested in more heady affairs and the nature of mankind’s place in the cosmos, Nagata’s proficiency in writing action beats is certainly on strong and regular display. There’s plenty of sinking “oh shit” moments as this book ramps up to its dizzying, frenetic climax and a shipful of humans fight for survival.

Edges does end with a cliff-hanger, which is disappointing only because of the questions raised and the lack of immediate gratification those answers would provide. I wanted to learn more about the discoveries made and follow this crew for a little while longer. On the bright side, Nagata does tease the release of Book 2, Silver, in this volume’s conclusion, although no release date has yet been specified. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of new and interesting things to think about, and a whole lot of speculations to be made.

[Note: I received an advanced reading copy of this title from the author.]
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
September 28, 2020
This book is a distant sequel to the third Nanotech Succession book Vast, but it's being marketed as "a new entry point" into the series. As someone who's new to the series, I think this mostly succeeds, neatly summarizing the events leading up to the appearance of a very special alien ship in the human sanctuary of Deception Well.

The humans of Deception Well fear that they may be the last remnants of their species. Other planets along the human frontier have fallen to the ruthless Chenzeme hunter-killer robot ships and the core of human civilization (called the Hallowed Vasties) has fallen silent after some sort of transcendence event. When a Chenzeme ship controlled by Urban (from the previous book) returns to Deception Well, he recruits the original of Clementine and a cadre of other human adventurers and scientists on a mission to discover what happened to the rest of humanity at the Hallowed Vasties.

The humans of this time are very much posthuman intelligences that are comfortable both in incarnate form and as bodiless software. Nanotech, functional immortality and travel that uses a fanciful energy source but still respects relativity all fits into a fascinating science fictional world that sets and keep its own rules, right up until it postulates the next levels of technology which break all of them. Terrifyingly so.

It can be hard to relate to the issues of posthumans, but this book made me care about them sufficiently to want to read the next. Even though this could probably have been a lot shorter than it actually is.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,773 reviews208 followers
September 12, 2020
3.5 stars. Far, far future, nanotechnology, transhumanism, alien spaceships and a past, terrible war with them, pioneering humans expanding far into space, settling ever further from earth, avatars and some pretty neat tech use throughout this story.
I have not read the Nanotechnology Succession series by this author, and mostly read this book without knowing about how the humans got to where they did by this book’s opening. I could appreciate the wealth of adaptations they’d implemented, so they could live and explore as they did, and I liked the idea of the avatars and ghosts.
That said, this wasn’t the easiest book to get through, as I didn’t really care about most of the characters (except Clementine) and contemplated DNFing several times. I kept thinking this far future “virus attack” story was probably not interesting enough to continue to book two.
Profile Image for Trike.
1,530 reviews162 followers
August 14, 2020
It’s a decent story, but definitely only part one of a longer series. I haven’t read any of the other books set in this universe, so I don’t know what I might be missing, but this was self-contained enough. It’s old school SF with ships taking centuries to travel between stars, so that was a nice throwback amidst all the Stars Trek & Wars these days.
Profile Image for Jason Snell.
41 reviews614 followers
July 9, 2019
A supremely weird book that is about space battles, AIs, nanotech, and transhumanity, all wrapped in one. I really liked it, though having now read the "Nanotech Succession" series also by Nagata, I would recommend you probably read "Deception Well" and definitely read "Vast" before diving in to this one.
Profile Image for hedgehog.
216 reviews32 followers
March 2, 2021
- I lost my fuckin' submind over this book
- If I were a murder spaceship, all of my philosopher cells would instantly ignite in homicidal rage
- something something nanites
- let us not forget that in the future, we still really care about Binary Gender!
- there's an MC named Urban so basically I pictured ol' Karl. Eomer the space asshole

RTC but why can does so much futuristic science fiction gotta do me dirty like this?? WHY AM I CONTEMPLATING READING THE NEXT BOOK. I hate cliffhangers.
Profile Image for Mar.
44 reviews
February 19, 2022
wow the characters were so annoying - everyone was constantly whining about everything and none of their actions or motivations made sense. it was also long and dragged out and i couldnt bring myself to finish
Profile Image for Faith.
1,902 reviews534 followers
May 30, 2020
Since there is no way I am going to carry on with this series, I am abandoning book one.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book141 followers
August 5, 2020
“You still don’t trust me, do you?” “In the madness of these hours I don’t trust myself.”

Written proof that hard science fiction can be engaging. While Nagata posits many advances in bioelectronics and mechanics, she sticks to physics as we know it: no faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity by centrifugal force (with the concomitant side effects), and no replicators or transporters. IGWS, no light sabers. The only planets fit for colonization are sterile. (Think about it.)

“She arose, staggering a little against the unaccustomed angular force of the rotating deck. A poor simulation of gravity.”

Nagata draws the reader into a story which started elsewhere (in the Nanotech Succession series) but fills in the blanks only as and when necessary. Excellent character and ensemble building, if a little obvious.

“Time flowed in one direction only, life did not grant do-overs, and it was his nature to reject any suggestion of melancholy. A useless emotion. Better to arm up. Be ready. Be stronger, faster, smarter. Right now he was vulnerable.”

Not everyone you meet in space is your instant friend. If they pose as benevolent, be suspicious. The strangest and most deadly encounters may be with the most innocuous beings.

“You’ve always ruled your personal kingdom. So what’s different this time?” “I’m different.” “Different how?” “I’ve lost people. I don’t like the way it feels. Friends and lovers, gone forever. And you want me to take on more people?”

Thought-provoking, enjoyable read. Satisfying conclusion with something of a cliffhanger to the next installment, Silver. Moral issues? Oh, yeah. (Nice, relevant cover art)

“Survival excused many behaviors that would otherwise be criminal.”
Profile Image for Steve Garriott.
Author 1 book12 followers
August 25, 2022
Absolutely incredible achievement! The greatest compliment I can give any author in the realm of science fiction is that he or she has instilled in me an overwhelming sense of awe. Nagata's work has always done that, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that she's done it again. The complexity and the sheer level of critical mass propelling this novel has given me a new appreciation of what she can do. Bravo! I will be continuing on with the saga of Urban and the rest of the crew of the Dragon, but, crap, I need a rest after that one!
Profile Image for Ric.
391 reviews39 followers
July 22, 2021
Far future SF

This was good, very good. SF done right with all the sense of wonder and adventure that I remember from when I first got hooked on the genre. The human enclave of Deception Well has lived for centuries in fear of the Chemzeme legacy ships, automaton war vessels tasked with the annihilation of all sentient life. The Well is hidden deep within a false nebula, on the outskirts of which stand guard two ancient human ships, perhaps the last of a once vast armada. (The story of the Well and how humans came to reside there is apparently part of the Nanotech Succession series which includes the books The Bohr Maker, Vast and Deception Well by the author from circa 1995-98. A series I hope to enjoy when the audiobooks ever become reality.)

Edges begins when one of the guard ships detects a celestial body on a trajectory to come uncomfortably close to the nebula. In the ensuing awakening of long-dormant response systems, the humans determine that the anomaly is a spaceship, and further, that it is of Chemzeme origin. Clamantine, a survivor of the early diaspora from the marauding Chemzeme, is instantiated from long-term storage to help deal with the crisis ... for the alien ship has asked for her by name. What follows is a gosh-wow trip that offers adventure and discovery with relatable human characters and truly alien aliens.

I think I was smiling throughout the reading of this book, going back and forth on chapters, relishing the classical SF sensibilities of the narrative. I've been a fan of the author's recent work, but this book moves her to the top of my must-read list. Easily 5 stars, and can't wait to get to book 2.
Profile Image for Realms & Robots.
196 reviews4 followers
June 2, 2019
Edges is an intellectual space opera featuring an epic journey to discover the answers of the lost human race. The writing is pristine, featuring strong characters who quest for the answers to humanity’s potential demise. With the dangers of a past war lurking on the outskirts and technologies that are a marvel to imagine, Edges is a science fiction novel that’s both entertaining and intellectually stimulating.

Nagata dives deep into the many technological marvels of her deep space explorers, going against the boundaries of time and consciousness to explore the known universe. We’re asked to consider the psychology of genetic copies of ourselves, of sending your mind across the universe for a millennia while leaving your body behind. Two versions of yourself exist, creating an interesting paradox. This is highly evolved space exploration that goes beyond generations. The explorer is forever an explorer, existing in a digital space with occasional biological wrappers of sorts. If you could experience anything and everything, forever, would you make that choice? It’s an interesting dilemma.

The premise of the story is fascinating as our explorers try to rediscover the human race. This is a future so far from our own time that humanity has spread to the furthest reaches of the universe. Through a devastating war, communications have disappeared, leaving those on the outskirts to face their telescopes back toward home in the hopes of rediscovering their own kind. That concept of backtracking makes for a fascinating plot.

Overall, Edges is an epic journey through space by a select few and it’s a pleasure to go along for the ride.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
Profile Image for G.S. Jennsen.
Author 48 books483 followers
July 2, 2019
4.5 stars

Cons: There were long stretches where very little happened - then all of the sudden everything happened in the last 10%. Also, even the 2 main characters were 2 1/2 dimensional at best.

Pros: But my goodness, the ideas! Major kudos to Nagata for originality in plot, worldbuilding and tech. I haven't read any of the Nanotech Succession works, so perhaps some of the originality stretches back to those entries. Regardless, this is sci-fi as it should be done. And by the end, she even had me caring about Urban and Clemantine.
April 10, 2019
I'm not going to try to summarize this book. It is part of a genre that includes titles such as Vernor Vinge's 'A Fire Upon The Deep', Greg Egan's 'Diaspora', and Nagata's own 'VAST', which this is a direct sequel to. If you like this genre, you're going to love this book. If you don't like this genre, you aren't. It's pretty much as simple as that.

Profile Image for Bonnie.
122 reviews50 followers
April 28, 2022
Urban returns to the planet Deception Well having captured an alien spaceship. A group of trans-human/post-human people join him on a long and dangerous mission: head back in the direction of old Earth, and find out if any humans are still alive back in that region of the galaxy.

Main characters: Urban, Clementine, Karo (Urban’s father), Riffin (military leader/scientist), Vytet (engineer), Lezurio (evil entity).

Cool technology! Digital personas, creation of extra consciousnesses called ghosts, subminds, Dull Intelligences (a type of AI tethered by limited awareness and assignment to specific tasks), Outriders (sub-ships guarding the main spaceship), Philosopher Cells, and virtual library archives!

It was fun when so many more people joined the expedition (65) than they thought would join (3 or 4). I found it realistic how the people on the mission had to deal with governance and getting along with each other. The ordeal with the alien entity was pretty suspenseful.

Read this for book club.
Some people including me liked it and went on to read sequels and prequels from The Nanotech Succession; some people disliked it and would not even finish it. Some didn’t like flat characters; “cheesy” sex scenes; the “trivial” drama (especially for people who had achieved “Fifth Level” and should be beyond toxic behavior!); or felt letdown after the revelation of Urban’s secrets about the mission. Some found it hard to relate to people being willing to spin off sub-minds or duplicate consciousnesses of themselves, especially if those would be sent into danger; others could imagine it. 

Prompted lots of interesting discussion though.

Not much consensus on whether this is really the first book of a new (Inverted Frontier) series in the same universe, or the continuation of the Nanotech Succession series. You can read it without having read the former books, but I think it would make more sense if you had read Deception Well and Vast first. OTOH, one reason to read earlier books is, you want to understand the technology, and those books also jump in without much explanation.
Profile Image for Mitchell Friedman.
4,690 reviews175 followers
September 2, 2019
I am happy that this author returned to her earlier hard sf world. And this book is certainly cool. There was very interesting use of upload of intelligence. But the book was also slow and plodding. I could have re-read the first book first. And the characters were cool. I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. I will read the sequel. 3.5 of 5.
8 reviews
October 3, 2019
A mess

A brief summary, the remnants of civilization live in a protected gravity well called Deception Well. This well is protected by an artificial nebula using nano technology that devours anything hostile to this last sliver of humanity in particular a society of machine like space ships who are also organic whose whole purpose is to destroy life forms(why, who knows). The story evolves around one of the ship that has been co opt by one the Makers( it is not clear as to who these people are, where are they from, what is their history). This “guy” has a long history with another Maker, female, who wakes up after centuries of “cold sleep” and joins a crew of I assume humans who decided within hours to hop on this ship that is hostile to everyone on it and spend the rest of their lives hunting for any remaining life forms in the universe. Of course any rational being would need more than a couple of hours to make a decision to spend the rest of their lives on a ship that is trying to devour them just for the curiosity of finding other life forms. On top of that they don’t know all this until they are on the ship with no turning back
Now we get into the part of the story that violates “Space Opera 101”. THE HAVE NO FTL TECHNOLOGY! Instead they have cold sleep which they go in and out when they get bored. This ship is an organic ship that has traveled the universe devouring life and has no FTL. The author copes with this obvious technology disadvantage by inventing a concept called “ghosting” allowing the protagonists to create a replicate of them selves to go where they can not take a body. Which one is in cold sleep and which is awake starts taking a toll on the readability of this story real fast. Of course this starts to really get confusing because we soon discover that the Makers can also create bodies and have passed this ability to non makers. What is a real body or a ghost body starts becoming the focus of the reader trying to sort this mess out. These ships have nano technology that has the ability to create other ships out of who knows what(never was clear) but don’t have artificial gravity nor FTL technology. A real competent writer is needed to pull these kind of concepts off and this author doesn’t have the chops to do it. By the way I got over half way thru this book and tossed it, I found it so irritating.
537 reviews10 followers
April 5, 2020
I went into _Edges_ without any prior knowledge of the former series it is extending. From the blurb, I was drawn to an adventure story where humans venture back through old star systems to explore what was there & if anyone is still alive. An AI fleet that seeks to destroy all organic life is an old trope, one where good stories can emerge. There is a lot to digest in the beginning, especially how the Deception Well society functions. It is one where minds can be uploaded in an instant and clones grown quickly to contain those minds. What does it mean to be alive when two versions of your consciences are experiencing two different paths?

Here, the author doesn't try to push the lightspeed limit. Everything happens in years or centuries. Moving through the stars is slow. Which makes some of the book absolutely painful.

This really isn't an ancient civilization adventure story. There is very little discovery. A good portion of the book is about how the human minds that were uploaded to the ship deal with their situation and each other. Lots of arguing. Lots of annoying details about growing the habitat. Oh, the petty dealings of humans stuck in a ship.

Most of the characters are annoying. They are supposed to be "level five" deep space folks, the best trained in dealing with long periods in cryo on a ship. But they sure don't seem that way when they are finally awoken, as they complain how could they have been kept waiting. Urban, the leader of all this, plays the moody captain that has "secrets". One he thinks is a huge deal, I figured quickly & it eventually turns out to be something of a dud. Clementine rocks, but since she is hooked up with Urban, bounces from militant to apprehensive in short spans.

But what really disappointed me was the fact that they only come across one "alien" in the book. Back to uploaded minds and all that, with a lot of quick handwaving as to how the alien can communicate with them so quickly. We do not get to the Hallowed Vasties. Almost. Lots of hints through a telescope. But no real adventure or mystery. I eventually just skimmed the last portion, as it was lots of whining and brooding. I wanted more discovery, using the new found knowledge to drive the growth of our characters. Jack McDevitt, this is not.
Profile Image for Elrik.
143 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2022
all the ingredients were there. But somehow, it didnt work for me, I only finished it for book club. Cant really pinpoint what didnt work. Characters felt hollow, the world building somehow sketchy, and even in action based taking-over-ship scene I was not drawn in. Too bad, liked many of the ideas and concepts, but they didnt come together into a story for me.
Profile Image for Clyde.
817 reviews54 followers
May 1, 2019
Recently Linda Nagata has been giving us near future techno-thrillers. (Beginning with with her excellent The Red: First Light.) However, with this book she returns to her far-future Nanotech Succession universe. Edges is a sequel to Vast (though it can be read stand-alone), with the events in Edges picking up roughly a thousand years after Vast.

At its heart, this book is an adventure story. A group of intrepid explorers decides to leave the safety of the Deception Well system and journey to the "Hallowed Vasties" (human core worlds) and discover why they seemingly have fallen to ruin. It will not be easy and they will face threats both internal and external.

There are several things I like about this book. For one, its scale and imagination provide that 'sense of wonder' that drew so many of us to science fiction in the first place. And, it is hard SF in that Nagata doesn't posit any warps, worm holes, or other undiscovered physics as ways to get around in the galaxy. It is strictly an Einsteinian universe; the speed of light is not violated. So how can short-lived humans deal with the vast expanses of space and time? Well, that would be a real spoiler; you'll have to read the book to find out. I'll just say that they have access to technology as far in advance of the present day as ours is from that of our cave-man ancestors.

Edges is a good and very interesting book, but I have to dock a star from my rating because I was left a bit unsatisfied. While the book doesn't end on a cliff-hanger, the story obviously isn't over. I want more.
Profile Image for Mark.
118 reviews15 followers
October 5, 2019
This starts a new series in the setting of her Nanotech Succession. I haven't read those but had no difficulty picking up this series - although I got the feeling I would have seen interesting connections.
This is a big exploring science fiction tale of far-future humanity. I hesitate to call it space opera as it perhaps lacks a little of the bombast I expect from that - this is more reflective, more interested in the people and civilisations.
This is set on the edge of Humanities known space - humans rushed out into the deep in search of knowledge, and then found something so scary and powerful that they ended up hiding in sanctuaries to avoid a relentless enemy.
To one of these sanctuaries comes a ship, promising the ability to venture out again and perhaps find out what happened back in the centre of humanity - were they wiped out, did they change, are they still there - and so a crew head back inwards, to the inverted frontier of the series title.
There's some great SF concepts going on here, but one was rather disturbing - the ability to copy yourself into multiple new bodies or software as backups is portrayed as creating almost a callousness towards your own life in an individual basis. This is possibly true and certainly good SFnal speculation, but I found reading about characters prepared to kill themselves for pragmatic reasons quite disturbing. That said, it's undoubtedly thought-provoking.
Profile Image for Aaron Caskey.
57 reviews5 followers
October 21, 2019
Iain Banks' death still hits me every now and then. At least to me, he wrote with a singular optimism. Horrible things were done by horrible people, but there was always the pervading idea that sensibility and kindness were what made a civilisation thrive.

So, I've been chasing that dragon since he passed. I was recommended Alastair Reynolds, and while I loved his take on sci-fi, I found his characters mostly petty and overly cruel. So I still haven't found anything that hit that high.

But Edges comes pretty damn close.

It has its weak points: the characterisation isn't great; there are perhaps too many convenient coincidences to drive the plot; and some ideas seem a little "unfleshed". But it still really got to me, got me excited about reading again, excited about science fiction, and even a little optimistic about humanity. The people in this book are just... nice, even the "roguish" main character tries to do right by the people in his care.

It's not for everyone, but if you miss Iain M. Banks, this might go some way towards filling the void.
Profile Image for Cary.
171 reviews7 followers
February 28, 2021
More of a 4.5 since I wasn't super-enamored of any of the characters -- though I did like many of them. The story and the mystery at the heart of it are top notch. The science is spot on, and the science fiction elements were well-thought-out.

Far-future sci-fi has always intrigued and fascinated me. A lot of it falls short of course, but whe it's well-done, I find it hard to put down. And that was certain the case here. I listened to it in just a couple days and will be jumping right in to the sequel.

The scope of this story, in space and in time, is worthy of the label space opera. While hardly unique, The lack of faster-than-light travel (and communication) expands the timescale and lends a different feel to it than it would otherwise have. Have decades or more for the characters to do things, resolve issues, presents interesting challenges for the story telling and Nagata handles them deftly.

Nicole Poole does an amirable job as narrator, managing distinct and believable voices for male and female characters alike.

Profile Image for Justin Howe.
Author 17 books35 followers
June 5, 2019
This novel resurrects characters from Linda Nagata’s DECEPTION WELLS series and sends them off on a mission to discover whether they’re the last humans left alive in the universe. It’s a book of downloadable personalities, virus powered space ships, and discussions across multiple layers of virtual reality. The characters might be a bit thin and broad strokes, but the setting is rich and I enjoyed the underlying concept of the universe being populated not by aliens, but by the sentient tools and weapons they left behind. The novel works well as a stand alone and you can easily read it without having read any of Nagata’s other books before.
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