Basically, this is the story
of the transformation of the world by nanotech on the scale of taking entire
cities and translating them into versions that function as a coordinated
The central character, Marie
Laveau, plays an odd role. Sort of like a Robin Hood - a criminal acting to
change society for the benefit of most of the people. Unlike Robin Hood, it is
not merely circumstances that have temporarily led her to use illegal means to
regain her rightful place - she starts out as an underworld figure. She is not
motivated by being unfairly outcast and she's not trying to bring things back
to the good old days. She's not the Godfather, and she's more interested in
technology. Still, it's not the most likely person for a champion of the people.
Perhaps, it is partly that
early on she is assassinated by rivals. She has made arrangements so that in
such a case her body is rushed to a facility and an experimental bio/nano
treatment is used to restore her more or less to her previous self. But the treatment
has its drawbacks.
One way or the other, over
the course of years she leads efforts to transform New Orleans and the world.
The world is also being
assaulted by periodic space radiation that damages microchips, seriously
affecting related technologies. (In one of the less plausible elements, this
somehow leads to children being born who sense electromagnetism more than
others.) Eventually, it is discovered that radiation includes a communication
from extraterrestrials that may be useful to Earth.
Another important character,
Zeb, is a genius scientist with a psychiatric condition. He ends up off his
medication, going through periods of mental illness and periods during which he
can develop his understanding of the alien signals. The government wants to
control or stop his research, so he lives in more-or-less homeless anonymity.
In another subplot, a
Japanese firm has created nano "universal assemblers", which could
pose a grave threat if used by the wrong people or in the wrong way.
And elsewhere, an army of
abused women is led by a dangerous woman planning a new form of revenge.
The world is in turmoil.
Nano attacks are escalating to the point of swarms of nano "insects"
taking over cities...
The book is a prequel to
Queen City Jazz, and is part of a 4-book nanotech series.