This exotic, fast-paced space opera turns on a single question: who decides what it means to be human?
Twenty-third century Earth, ravaged by climate change, looks backwards to the holy ideal of a pre-industrial Eden. Political power has been grabbed by a few powerful families and their green saints. Millions of people are imprisoned in teeming cities; millions more labour on Pharaonic projects to rebuild ruined ecosystems.
On the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the Outers, descendants of refugees from Earth's repressive regimes, have constructed a wild variety of self-sufficient cities and settlements: scientific utopias crammed with exuberant creations of the genetic arts; the last outposts of every kind of democratic tradition. The fragile detente between the Outer cities and the dynasties of Earth is threatened by the ambitions of the rising generation of Outers, who want to break free of their cosy, inward-looking pocket paradises, colonise the rest of the Solar System and drive human evolution in a hundred new directions. On Earth, many demand pre-emptive action against the Outers before it's too late; others want to exploit the talents of their scientists and gene wizards. Amid campaigns for peace and reconciliation, political machinations, crude displays of military might and espionage by cunningly wrought agents, the two branches of humanity edge towards war...
Paul McAuley (Born 1955)
Paul James McAuley was born in Gloucestershire on St George's Day, 1955. He has a Ph.D in Botany and worked as a researcher in biology at various universities, including Oxford and UCLA, and for six years was a lecturer in botany at St Andrews University, before leaving academia to write full time. He started publishing science fiction with the short story "Wagon, Passing" for Asimov's Science Fiction in 1984. His first novel, 400 Billion Stars won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1988, and 1995's Fairyland won the Arthur C. Clarke and John W. Campbell Awards. He has also won the British Fantasy, Sidewise and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. He lives in London.
You can find his blog at: http://www.unlikelyworlds.blogspot.com