In a dark future universe, where human technology has not significantly halted human violence, scientists roam a distant star system selling an opium-like drug, and plans are made to fuse human DNA with a lifeform called the Grub in hopes of finally erasing humankind’s most violent tendencies.
Severna Park, author of the related SF novels Speaking Dreams and Hand of Prophecy, turns to a new universe in The Annunciate. ThreeSys is a three-star system, and each star has 11 human-settled worlds. The humans are separated not only by vast distances but also by technology, divided into Jackless, Jacked, and Meshed. The Jackless have no access to the virtual reality of the Jacked. And neither caste has access to the nanotech-sculpted dimension that the Meshed can enter to control and manipulate them.
When Jackless and Jacked rise against their overlords, three Meshed survive and struggle to retain their mastery with Staze, a potent, immediately addictive drug that traps users in an overwhelming dream. But the dream may be the entrance to another world–one inhabited by a mysterious and powerful being that wishes to enter our universe. Is it the Unknown Child, the long-prophesied savior of ThreeSys? Or is it an alien predator that will destroy humanity?
The Annunciate is an interesting, ambitious consideration of love and need, power and responsibility, and the complexities of human bonds. –Cynthia Ward
From Library Journal
In the far future, humanity has spread throughout the galaxy and fragmented into three distinct factionsAthe Meshed, the Jacked, and the JacklessAaccording to their ability to access virtual technology. Hunted to near-extinction by the other two factions, the Meshed maintain a precarious existence until a strange, alien being encounters a trio of Meshed fugitives and announces itself as their salvation. The author of Speaking Dreams depicts a grim future where fear of “the other” takes precedence over trust and good faith. Marred only by the lack of appealing characters, this novel of ideas belongs in large sf collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Far-future virtual-reality/alien-contact yarn from the author of Hand of Prophesy (1998). In Park’s 3-sun, 33-planet ThreeSys, those “Meshed” (connected through internal and external nanomachine “propagats”) have access to an augmented sensory/information Net. The Jacked have merely a standard plug-in computer/machine interface. The Jackless have nothing. To restrain ThreeSys’s endemic violence and warfare, the Meshed introduced an addictive, pacifying drug called Staze. The non-Meshed retaliated with computer viruses that wiped out all the Meshed save Eve, Annmarie, and Corey. Only these three know how to make Staze, but will they choose to bring a drug-induced peace, or seize control of everything? What remains of the Mesh is failing, and only on planet Paradise, the first planet to be colonized, subsequently blasted by war, do old-type, virus-immune propagats survive. Eve, the junior partner, constantly betrayed by Corey or manipulated by Annmarie, wants only her Jacked, Staze-addicted lover, Naverdi. But the Paradise propagats soon take over their ship’s systems and combine with worms and moss on the planet to produce a “succubus,” an ignorant but powerful construct. The succubus grabs Naverdi and impregnates her with the Unknown Child, meanwhile linking Meshed and Jacked with all ThreeSys’s Staze addicts through their dreams. Will this, as the addicts believe, deliver enlightened peace? Or, as Eve suspects, is the succubus a voracious alien predator? A passionate, ferocious…swirl of sex, treachery, religion, drugs, technology, and transcendence. — Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
“The Annunciate has nanotechnology and spaceships, but at its heart is Severna Park’s delicate calculus of human need-the need for information, for a fix, for a place to live, for a lover and for a mother–the need for hope.” — Maureen F. McHugh, author of Mission Child
“A spellbinding brew of love, fear, nanotechnology, virtual reality, sex, drugs, and a profound meditation on the nature and possibilities of human interaction.” — S.M. Stirling