Out in the Blue Six

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McDonald, Ian. Out on the Blue Six. New York, Bantam, 1989 ("A Bantam Spectra Book).

In a neutral sense of the term, SF "recombinant fiction," deftly weaving together a large number of familiar SF and utopian themes, motifs, and tropes. Relevant here, OBS features a gentle urban dystopia (with wastelands at the borders) created by machine take-over and run by a pantheon of AI (although that term is not used): cybernetic computer-gods, who maintain control through constant surveillance (including implants) and total bureaucratization of life. Note also (1) variations on the theme of VR and avatars of conscious computers as humanoid and human goddess and god; (2) strong descent/ascent motifs to more biological, though bio-tech, worlds; and (3)—potential SPOILER here—final abdication by the computers to allow human expansion into the galaxy and growth as a species, said expansion by means of "archologies […] designed to be the first functioning space colonies": i.e., small, self-contained cities going into space (326; "Out on the Blue Six …"). (CAUTION: Readers who like their prose lean may find long stretches of OBS too ornate for their tastes.) (RDE, Bill Howe, 21/12/06)