The Vast curtain opens with four crew members on the vessel Null Boundary making their centuries-long journey towards the star system of Alpha Cygni. More refugees from a broken civilization than explorers, they seek the Chenzeme, murderers of the human race, whose 30-million-year-old warships prowl the near and far reaches of space, destroying all they encounter.|
Linda Nagata is remarkably adept at introducing new concepts without disturbing the flow of the narrative. Vast molds human figures out of a clay of genetic, nano, and virtual technology, allowing their humanity to take primacy: "It came without warning, making no sound. Lot first sensed its presence as a flash of motion in the central tunnel. He looked around, to see a flood spiraling down on him, white water sluicing through an invisible pipe, a snake made of water. It swept into the chamber; it coiled around him, an arm's length away. The coils of the snake melted together, and he was encased in a glistening shell. Charismata of exhilaration rained against his sensory tears, a strange foreign sense of greeting. Tendrils reached out to him from the shell's shimmering white surface, a thousand slender white tendrils brushing him. Faint touches. Where they contacted his skin suit they retracted, but where they touched his bruised face they stayed. Familiarity flooded him, a warm sense of union that eased the black pressure of the cult [virus] forever burning under his skin. A voice whispered in his ear, produced by a trembling membrane on the end of a tendril. 'You know us?'"
Make sure you're in a comfortable position when you start reading: Linda Nagata is light years ahead of her contemporaries in writing heart-racing, hard-science SF. Once this story sinks its teeth into you, you won't hear the phone ringing or care that it's way past bedtime until the last page is turned.
Source: Jhana Bach, Amazon.com.