Not unmixed, and I think the reviewer may have missed what we Swedes refer to as our sense of humor (and the boldface headers that indicate where and when each scene is taking place), but not too bad for a first outing, I think. And hey, it's PW...
Elizabeth Bear. Bantam Spectra, $6.99 (352p) ISBN 0-553-58750-1
Drugs, gangs and Internet warfare run rampant in Bear's ambitious debut novel, an SF thriller set in 2062. Jenny Casey, a former Canadian special forces warrior who's half-machine as the result of an accident years earlier, is living in Hartford, Conn., when a scientist working in need of the perfect subject for a high-stakes virtual-reality project puts Casey in his sights. Casey becomes a pawn in a furious battle waged in the corridors of the Internet, on the streets of battered cities and in the complex wirings of her half-manmade nervous system. As she approaches her 50th birthday, Casey manages to maintain a good sense of humor, a trait unfortunately lacking in the rest of the cast, which includes an old flame, a gangster named Razorface and a female ex-con who befriends the heroine. Bear's often jagged prose ("We disembark in Brazil, which has the distinction of being one of several countries I've been shot at in. Shot down over, even") suits the frequent, at times confusing narrative jumps between the virtual and real worlds. Though readers may have difficulties following this sometimes chaotic story, advance praise from such SF pros as Mike Resnick, Richard Morgan and Peter Watts should ensure a strong start. Agent, Jennifer Jackson at Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Jan. 4)
Ellie is amused to note that it's true: the criminal record does follow you everywhere. Several doctorates, and she's remembered as an ex-con....
On the other hand, Peter Watts appears to really like the trilogy.
From his "newscrawl" page (which is worth reading for news and venom, not just for the mention of yours truly):
I've just finished reading the new trilogy by Elizabeth Bear. You can't have it yet; the first installment, Hammered, isn't even out for another month or two. Your loss, Toots. This stuff is great. It combines a gritty, dystopian Brunneresque worldview—politically astute, globally wide-angled, and refreshingly non-US-centric—with the kind of open-mouthed sense-of-wonder you might get from a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Vernor Vinge. Except Bear's aliens are more alien than Vinge's and her humans are way more human than Kubrick's.
Mind, we are talking about a single story in three volumes; although Hammered sings on its own, some of the harmonics dangle loose enough to leave you wondering why they're there in the first place. Never fear; they're integral, and all (well, most) is resolved by the end of the tale. I can say this, because unlike you poor saps, I don't have to wait until 2006 to see how it all shakes out.
If you write sf, you'll be wondering if maybe it wouldn't be better for your own career if this Bear chick didn't just, you know, disappear before things get out of hand. (Drop me a line; we'll talk.) But if you mainly just read the stuff, believe me: you're going to eat this up.
And no, actually, no money changed hands at all on that last one.