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Inherit The Earth

Brian Stableford

Tor / Tom Doherty Associates

US Trade Hardcover

ISBN 0-312-86493-0

Publication Date: September 1998

$23.95; 320 pages

Datre Reviewed: 12-04-1998

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2001



Science Fiction, Mystery

10-08-02, 12-13-02

Visions of the future are also visions of the past and present. 'Inherit The Earth', a new science-fiction mystery by British horror specialist Brian Stableford, is set near the end of the twenty-second century. The world it portrays is dominated by IT (internal technology), nano-machines that extend our lives and fight accidents and disease, yet the conflicts and characters revolve around matters that Raymond Chandler would have been happy to handle. "This was melodrama, not news -- but in today's world, how many people could tell the difference?" Stableford's people come to life then hit the floor running in a world where new technology only lays bare old animosities.

Damon Hart is the son of the man who saved the world nearly a hundred years ago. He has rejected his father's heritage as a biological engineer, and become a virtual reality artist. As the novel opens, his heritage catches up with him, and he is thrust into an intricate battle between omnipotent corporations, inexperienced policemen, shadowy terrorists and his own fractured foster family. He hires an old friend to help him investigate why someone is planting messages in the media stating that not only that his father alive, but that his father caused the plague he helped to cure.

Stableford's technology is100% hand waving; he doesn't linger on details that would bog down the plot or obscure his ability to get to the heart of the matter, which is the war between the rich and the poor and the part played by technology in this war. However, he does thoughtfully integrate his technology into the social fabric he portrays. Thus we have street fighters who seek injury, and record it to sell to video artists. The more fights they win, the better IT they can buy. The better IT they can buy... You get the picture. 'Inherit the Earth' is Stableford's thought experiment on the implications of a technology that can provide emortalty (extended life) which can give its recipients hope of achiving immortality, if only they can stay on the "escalator" long enough.

While this novel rests firmly in the science fiction genre, it will certainly to appeal to readers outside of the genre. Fans of Stableford's horror will find familiar themes here, while the mystery-oriented plot and structure will carry on the average reader. 'Inherit the Earth' is yet another demonstration that Brian Stableford is one of the most talented and versatile writers working in speculative fiction.