(15 Reviews)
Ventus by Karl Schroeder









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(15 Reviews)
A novel of information apocalypse set in the far future. For a thousand years the sovereign Winds have maintained the delicate ecological balance of the terraformed planet Ventus. Now an alien force threatens to wrest control of the terraforming system away from the Winds...

Book Excerpt

not monsters. That one was just trying to protect itself."

"What was that silver stuff? It looked alive!"

"Dad told me about that one time. The mothers protect themselves with it. He said the stuff goes towards whatever's wettest. He said he saw somebody get covered with it once; he died, but the stuff was still on him, so they got it off by dropping the body in a horse trough."

Emmy shuddered. "That was an awful chance. Don't do anything like that again, hear?"

The excitement was over, and the rest of the crowd began to disperse. "Come, let's get you cleaned up," she said, towing him in the direction of the kitchens.

As they were rounding the reflecting pool, Jordan heard the sudden thunder of hooves, saw the dust fountaining up from them. They were headed straight for him.

"Look out!" He whirled, pushing Emmy out of the way. She shrieked and fell in the pool.

The sound vanished; the dust blinked out of existence.

There were no horses. The courtyard was

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Fantastic story, grest idea using nanotech to terraform a world. Something goesd wrong and humans are no longer able to communicate or control the technology and it takes on a life of its own.

Ventus is a rich complicated Sci-Fi mixed fantasy novel.

The setting is the distant future on a planet called Ventus. Athousand years ago, Earth based civilization sent "mecha" (terraforming machines) which used nannites to prepare what was an inhospitable environment for human colonization. But when humans arrived, they found the planet full of plant and animal life; ideal for humans, but the machines themselves had changed and would not recognize humans or specifically their technology because the latter interfered with the mecha's main mission of ecological balance. The mecha created "swans" (formidable police entities) based on the nearby moon of Diadem to enforce the ecological balance. The result is a human civilization forced to live in a feudal society which is the rough equivalent of 18th century earth technologically.

After a thousand years, earth society has lost their knowledge how to create mecha and the Ventusians have lost full knowledge of just what the nanotechnoligy machines really are; they now worship them as "Winds."
They have struck a balance with the Winds, and can live and thrive in places the machines don't feel they are interfering. Some worship the Winds as Gods but most try to discern how to communicate or control them. Like any feudal society, Ventus is in the midst of a major war with the powers that be (Parliament) allied against a rouge queen who has some ability to communicate with the Winds and is changing the old order.

Into this tableau comes the first protagonist, Jordan, a young mason. Yes, his last name is Mason as well. At first he seems just a small cog in this feudal society....until he meets up with the second of several protagonists. 2 mercenary agents of earth civilization on Ventus to try to regain the knowledge of how to control the mecha. They are also in Ventus to destroy a competing agent named Armiger. Armiger is a human changed by a machine intelligence known only as 3340. 3340 was considered a grave danger to organic human life; 3340 co-opted humans, giving them godlike powers and then absorbing them into itself. Armiger is the last remaining agent of 3340 and is on Ventus to try to learn how to control the Winds. 3340 itself was destroyed by one of the above agents.

Jason has visions and can speak to the nannites of Ventus. They are because of implants from Armiger installed in several Ventusians to try to gain control of Ventus. Jason can see what Armiger sees. The Earth agents kidnap Jason to use his visions to find Armiger so they can direct their ship to their ship destroy him.

But Armiger is changing, and becoming more human......

Without giving more away, The clashing armies of Ventusian feudal civilization, The earth agent's ship's AI, and all the protagonists interact. Even the machines of Ventus are at war with themselves and represent major players in what is a philosophical dance and tug of war between competing organic and machine intelligence objectives .

A great read, except for something you have probably figured out already. There is too much stuff in this novel! It's all really interesting and incredibly creative, but the book is waaaay long and has too many competing interests for the reader to identify with one in a satisfying way. For this I take away one star, but strongly recommend it anyway.

Very complex and interesting story -- almost Dune-like in its use of ecological/nanotech systems. The characters are engaging, though I wish there had been a single main protagonist instead of five or six, and they're well delineated. But there wasn't anything to root against, in the end, which felt a little odd.
One of the best SF novels of the decade. What seemingly starts as a fantasy story soon becomes a major vision of nanotech, with an immersive adventure plot enjoyable by a wide audience.