Wil McCarthy’s Bloom is hard SF from the ‘90s, and it reads like it. It’s got all the hallmarks of that era, being set in the interior of an outer-system moon, after the Earth and inner planets have been reduced to gray goo by rogue nanotech. It’s not as grim as the setting makes it sound, and it’s got some clever turns to the plot, but fundamentally, it doesn’t transcend its genre. If you like ‘90s-era hard SF, you’ll like this.

Wil McCarthy’s The Collapsium , though, is something altogether different. It’s set in the Queendom of Sol, a post-scarcity civilization with all sorts of magic tech and a semi-decadent, mannered culture. The protagonist is Bruno de Towaji, a reclusive and eccentric genius, who has to be summoned from his self-built planetoid to solve puzzles and save the solar system.

This doesn’t quite feel like anything else. It’s sort of like a combination of Asimov’s Wendell Urth stories with Jack Vance, but not really. Do you like technology-oriented SF? Do you like fun stories set in magic-tech settings? Do you like puzzle mysteries where the genius protagonist has to figure everything out and save the day? Do you like slightly arch writing combined with any of the above? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll probably like this book.


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