Tor, Jan 2002, 25.95, 352 pp.
At the beginning of the fourth millennium galaxy trader Nathaniel Freer owns the space ship Tile Dance piloted by artificial intelligence KathKirtt, an essence with two brains. The crew consists of androids and cybernetic beings. On a routine run, the Tile Dance heads to Trencher to pick up cargo that they will next deliver to another planet Eolhxir.
At about the same time, a plague threatens to destroy computer data. The dangerous impact includes those aging humans that reside in outer space rest homes run by companies like Insort Geront, the firm producing the computer chips that cause the plaque. Only lenses from Eolhxir can destroy the plague. Freer takes on board ship an Eolhxir native with a lens. Now the Insort Geront targets Freer and company for eradication so that their master plan to control a galaxy can go on unimpeded. Fleeing for his life, Freer meets Johnny Appleseed and others who join with him to stop this nefarious plot from succeeding.
John Clute destroys the myth that those that can't write write reference books. The award winning encyclopedist provides science fiction fans with a strong futuristic tale that never slows down as the audience goes for a hyperspeed journey into various elements of the genre. Nathaniel is a wonderful lead character who wants only to earn a living picking up and delivering cargo and women, but now deals with the galaxy wide conspiracy that has him trapped in the middle. APPLESEED stretches credibility at times, but then again that is the essence of science fiction, as Mr. Clute would know from his encyclopedia days.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner