Books : reviews

Elton Elliott, ed.
Baen. 1995

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 24 May 1997

Nanotechnology is an awesomely powerful, almost inevitable technology. (A few people say it can't work, usually on quantum mechanical grounds. But proteins seem to manage. I myself think the software engineering problems have been underestimated -- but then one is always more skeptical about ones own speciality.) When it does come, soon, it is going to change our lives immeasurably, some for the good, some bad. Predictions range from god-like powers, to the grey goo scenario, and this collection of stories explores the range from dystopian to optimistic.

Being a wishful-optimist myself, I prefer the stories that show how nanotech could change our lives, and us, for the better. "Park Rules" is a little gem of a story, obliquely showing the power of nanotechnology; "The Gentle Seduction" is a wonderful (over-)optimistic vision of the future, and makes a brave stab at showing the other side of the Singularity (Vinge's name for the point beyond which we can no longer predict or understand technological change, because it is so great). For those who prefer dark stories, there are some here, like "Monster Hunt" -- but they don't explore the potential horrors that deeply.


Poul Anderson. Statesmen. 1989
If you could use AI to recreate famous figures from the past, who would you bring back to help you fight a war?
Greg Bear. Blood Music. 1983
(The original short story which grew into the novel of the same name.) What if nanotech has made the individual cells of your body intelligent, and they wanted to be in charge?
Richard E. Geis. Monster Hunt. 1995
'Normal' humanity has rebelled against the nanotech-enhanced 'monsters', and is hunting them down.
Arlan Andrews. Nanotech and Nanominds. 1995
(essay) Andrews' involvement in the early history of nanotechnology.
Arlan Andrews. Sins of the Mothers. 1995
An anti-abortionist (who has a novel reason for his views) invents a nano-virus that encourages the fathers to be against abortion.
Kevin J. Anderson. Dogged Persistence. 1992
Even if the government were conspiring against it, nanotech would eventually escape.
Kevin J. Anderson. Smaller and Smaller... and Picking Up Speed. 1995
Norm Hartman. Contagion. 1995
A backwoods community is so isolated that it hasn't been exposed to nanotech.
Charles Sheffield. Deep Safari. 1991
Fantastic Voyage brought up to date. A research scientist has injected herself with experimental medical telepresence nanobots, but something has gone wrong, and she is in a coma. The only person who can save her is her ex-lover, who now uses telepresence for running commercial 'Small Game Hunting'.
Gregory Benford. BIO/NANO/TECH. 1995
Jerry Oltion. Park Rules. 1995
A two and a half page listing of the rules of nanotechnology use by future backpackers in a National Park, this brilliantly brings home how a future with nanotechnology will be different.
Dave Smeds. Evaporation. 1995
For people made immortal by nanotechnology, punishments could last a very long time...
Kent Patterson. Nanoclaus. 1995
Life on a printed circuit board.
J. Steven York. Hunter's Dawn. 1995
Eventually, immortality might make suicide look desirable, unless you could find some purpose.
Marc Stiegler. The Gentle Seduction. 1989
Not everybody is a techno-nerd, eagerly awaiting the chance to flood their systems with body-altering nanobots. 'Ordinary' people need to be introduced to the technology more gently.
John G. Cramer. Nanotechnology: The Coming Storm. 1995
K. Eric Drexler. From Nanodreams to Realities. 1995