The Collapsium by Wil MccarthyThe Collapsium by Wil Mccarthy

The Collapsium

byWil Mccarthy

Mass Market Paperback | November 26, 2002

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In this stunningly original tale, acclaimed author Wil McCarthy imagines a wondrous future in which the secrets of matter have been unlocked and death itself is but a memory. But it is also a future imperiled by a bitter rivalry between two brilliant scientists--one perhaps the greatest genius in the history of humankind; the other, its greatest monster.

The Collapsium

In a world of awesome technology, the deadly substance called collapsium has given humans all the powers and caprices--including immortality--of the gods they once worshiped. Composed of miniature black holes, collapsium allows the instantaneous transmission of information and matter--as well as humans--throughout the solar system. But while its reclusive inventor, Bruno de Towaji, next dreams of probing the farthest reaches of spacetime, Marlon Sykes, his ambitious rival in science--and in love--has built an awesome telecommunications network by constructing a ring of collapsium around the sun. It appears Sykes may be the victor--until a ruthless saboteur attacks the ring and sends it falling toward the sun. Now the two scientists must put aside personal animosity to prevent the destruction of the solar system--and every living thing within it.
Wil McCarthy, after ten years of rocket science with Lockheed Martin, traded the hectic limelight of the space program for the peace and quiet (ha!) of commercial robotics at Omnitech, where he works as a research and development hack.He writes a monthly column for the SciFi Channel's news magazine, and his less truthful writings have ...
Title:The CollapsiumFormat:Mass Market PaperbackPublished:November 26, 2002Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:055358443X

ISBN - 13:9780553584431

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Read from the Book

in which animportant experimentis disruptedIn the eighth decade of the queendom of Sol, on a miniature planet in themiddle depths of the Kuiper Belt, there lived a man named Bruno de Towajiwho, at the time of our earliest attention, was beginning his 3088thmorning walk around the world.The word "morning" is used advisedly here, since along the way he walkedthrough the day and night and back again without pausing to rest. It was avery small planet, barely six hundred meters across, circled by an eventinier "sun" and "moon" of Bruno's own design.Walk with him: see his footpath cutting through the blossomy mea-dow, feel the itch of pollens in your eyes and nose. Now pass through intothe midday forest, with its shafts of sunlight filtering warmly throughthe canopy. The trees are low and wide, citrus and honeysuckle anddogwood, not so much a shady, mushroom-haunted wilderness as a compromisewith physical law--taller trees would reach right out of the troposphere.As it is, the highest limbs brush and break apart the puffy summer cloudsthat happen by.Pass the Northern Hills; watch the stream trickle out between them; seethe forest give way to willows at its bank. The bridge is a quaint littlearch of native wood; on the far side lie the grasslands of afternoon, thevegetable gardens tended by stoop-backed robots, the fields of wild barleyand maize tended by no one, lit by slantwise rays. Behind you, the sundips low, then slips behind the planet's sharply curved horizon. Despitethe refraction of atmospheric hazes, darkness is sudden, and with it theterrain grows rocky--not jagged but hard and flat and boulder-strewn,dotted with hardy Mediterranean weeds. But here the stream winds backagain, and as evening fades to night the channel of it widens out intocattail marshland and feeds, and finally, into a little freshwater sea.Sometimes the moon is out, drawing long white reflections across thesilent water, but tonight it's only the stars and the Milky Way haze andthe distant, pinpoint gleam of Sol. All of history's down there; if you like,you can cover the human race with your hand.It grows colder; realize the planet shields you from the little sun--the only local heat source--with the deadly chill of outer space so closeyou could literally throw a rock into it. But the beach leads around to twilight meadows, and the horizon ruddies up with scattered light, and then suddenly it's morning again, the sun breaking warmly above the planet's round edge. And there is Bruno's house: low, flat, gleam-ing marble-white and morning-yellow. You've walked a little over twokilometers.Such was Bruno's morning constitutional, very much like all his others.Sometimes he'd fetch a coat and take the other route, over the hills, overthe poles, through cold and dark and cold and hot, but that was mainly amasochism thing; the polar route was actually shorter, and a good dealless scenic.He'd already eaten breakfast; the walk was to aid his digestion, toinvigorate his mind for the needs of the day: his experiments. The frontdoor opened for him. Inside, robot servants stepped gracefully out of hisway, providing a clear path to the study, bowing as he passed, though he'dtold them a thousand times not to. He grumbled at them wordlessly as hepassed. They didn't reply, of course, though their bronze and tin-graymanikin bodies hummed and clicked with faint life. Mechanical, unburdenedby imagination or want, they were utterly dedicated to his comfort, hissatisfaction.Another door opened for him, closed behind him, vanished. He waved a hand,and the windows became walls. Waved another, and the ceiling lightsvanished, the floor lights vanished, the desk and chairs and otherfurnishings became optical superconductors: invisible. Projectiveholography created the illusion of his day's apparatus: fifty collapsons,tiny perfect cubes visible as pinpoints of Cerenkov light, powder-blue andpulsing faintly, circling the holographic planet in a complex dance ofswapping orbits.He'd spent the past week assembling these, after his last batch had gonesour.Assembling them? Certainly.Imagine a sphere of di-clad neutronium, shiny with Compton-scatteredlight. It's a sort of very large atomic nucleus; a billion tons of normal matter crushed down to a diameter of three centimeters so that the protonsand electrons that comprise it are bonded together into a thick neutron paste. Left to itself it would, within nanoseconds, explode backinto a billion tons of protons and electrons, this time with considerable outward momentum. Hence the cladding: crystalline diamond and fibrediamond and then crystalline again, with a bound layer of well-stone on top. Tough stuff indeed; breaking the neutrons free of their little jail was difficult enough that Bruno had never heard of itshappening by accident.These "neubles" were the seeds of seeds--it took eight of them, crushedunimaginably farther, to build a collapson--and the little "moon" was actually just Bruno's storage bin: ten thousand neubles held together by their own considerable gravity. Another fifteen hundred formed the core of the tiny planet, a sphere about half a meter across, with askeleton of wellstone built on top of it, fleshed out with a few hundredmeters of dirt and rock and an upper layer neatly sculpted by robots andartisans.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"McCarthy is an entertaining, intelligent, amusing writer, with Heinlein's knack for breakneck plotting and, at the same time, Clarke's thoughtfulness."--Booklist“A standout novel. McCarthy has added a lyricism reminiscent of Roger ZelaZny to cutting-edge hard science in the manner of Robert L. Forward.”--The Denver Post “‘Imagination really is the only limit.’”--The New York Times“The future as McCarthy sees it is a wondrous place.”--Publishers Weekly