Steel Beach by John Varley


Science FictionSteel Beach by John Varley

Steel BeachJohn Varley; Ace Books 1993WorldCat 

Hildy Johnson is a reporter for the News Nipple, one of the padloids for the Lunar colony. His society lives disease free, war free, and dangerous violence free in the 23rd century. Earth is not habitable. The Moon has become so civilized that the residents forget the early dangers of living on the moon.

Another benefit to the society is long life. With the nanobots living in each body, diseases are cured before they can take hold. Surgery has become sophisticated and pain free. About the only injury that cannot be repaired if reached quickly is an implosion to the head and brain. They can surgically reshape their bodies at will, staying forever young, change sexes, or become neuter. Worn out organs are replaced. The side effect…more bored people. After 100 or 200 years, what other challenges are left?

Hildy keeps busy reporting the up to the minute news. He is building his own cabin in Disneyland Texas. He has been assigned a major year long series of articles by his editor. He has a new reporter that he is training. Yet he is fighting depression. Who or what is important in his life?

Steel Beach is written in first person from Hildy’s perspective. It gets very introspective and definitely has John Varley’s style all through it. Hildy’s tone is light, often self deprecating. Yet he has a very strong sense of self. Steel Beach examines the society that mankind has built on Luna, the technical advances made, and the Big Brother concept through the Central Computer. Varley pokes fun at some of our current practices; Steel Beach shows where we could easily be going. It is complex and worth the read.

Note: Strong sexual content

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