LitStack Review: Silver by Linda Nagata

by Tee Tate

Silver (Inverted Frontier Book 2)
Linda Nagata
Mythic Island Press
Release Date: November 19, 2019

I simply do not have enough superlatives in my vocabulary for Linda Nagata’s writing. Whether it be military science fiction (The Red: First Light, The Trials, Going Dark), speculative tech thriller (The Last Good Man), or wildly imaginative science fiction (The Bohr Maker, Deception Well, Vast), she excels in taking complex situations and putting them in a human context that transcends genre.

Her current series, Inverted Frontier, may be the best yet. The second book in the series, Silver, has just been published. If you haven’t started this series, drop everything and pick up the first book, Edges, without delay. If you have already read Edges, you are going to be absolutely floored by Silver.

Edges and Silver are set in the same universe as Nagata’s Nanotech Succession series, but it is not necessary to have read those books in order to enjoy the current ones. They are set far into our future, when the human race has scattered with the homeworld long ruined and passed into legend. In this future, humans have evolved into a species fully integrated with nanotech “makers” which protect and enhance, while interfacing with technology and other humans, and allowing for the creation of “ghosts” – data clones that can be grown to tackle specific tasks, or to preserve existence.

In Edges, a remnant of humanity at the isolated settlement of Deception Well faces the threat of massive alien warships that mindlessly roam the galaxy with the sole purpose of eradicating other sentient races – the legacy of a long-extinct hostile race. When Urban, one of the early Deception Well colonists long feared lost when he adventured out in search of other human settlements, returns in command of one of the alien warships, a small outrider fleet heads into space in the hope that the mystery of the diaspora might be explored.

But a chance encounter with a godlike entity named Lezuri  places the fleet in grave danger, and Urban must sacrifice himself to draw the threat away. After chasing Urban (and what a chase it is!), Lezuri takes refuge aboard the most distant vessel in the fleet in order to return to the planet of his origin, a planet of his own making, where he can recoup and reassert himself into the cosmos.

This is where Silver takes on the tale. From the publisher’s copy:

Though Lezuri remains formidable, he is a broken god, commanding only a fragment of the knowledge that once was his. He is desperate to return home to the ring-shaped artificial world he created at the height of his power, where he can recover the memory of forgotten technologies.

Urban (now cut off from all he loves) is desperate to stop him. He races to reach the ring-shaped world first, only to find himself stranded in a remote desert, imperiled by a strange flood of glowing “silver” that rises in the night like fog—a lethal fog that randomly rewrites the austere, Earthlike landscape. He has only a little time to decipher the mystery of the silver and to master its secrets. Lezuri is coming—and Urban must level up before he can hope to vanquish the broken god.

Ah, but there is so much more to this story! For this new world contains a human existence, born of a God (Lezuri) and Goddess (who destroyed Lezuri and was in turn destroyed) but with a wisp of memory of what seems to be an ancient Earth. Their ways at first seem primitive but turn out to be merely different, and Urban must not only understand but also absorb within his own enhanced being an alien element that holds the key to not only the survival of this world, but perhaps the entire galaxy.

It is so fascinating, this play of immense power against primordial myth, where the beings involved live – and exploit – the knowledge that they are players in Lezuri’s “game” and must level up to keep from being destroyed; where finely-honed technology encounters unexplainable machinery that defies known parameters. And yet it is also a very human element here, filled with grief and loss – and love and hope.

This is indeed superlative storytelling, multi-faceted and complex, yet accessible, exciting and engaging. If you love science fiction, or are willing to experience something unique and wonderful, you simply must read this series.

— Sharon Browning



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1 comment

John Folk-Williams 20 November, 2019 - 9:27 am

I’m so glad you’ve put Nagata’s writing into this context of “immense power against primordial myth.” I hope this new series puts her work on the map the way it deserves to be. She’s been under-rated for too long.

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