Tor, Aug 2002, 24.95, 315 pp.
In 2095, the One True controls humanity at least those living on the earth in a hive like collective intelligence. Mars is one of the few locales in which mankind retains free will though the environment still requires terraforming to make it more habitable. On Mars, Teri Murray informs her father Telemachus that she wants to drop out and marry her boyfriend Perry, but needs her dad's permission, as she is legally a minor. Her father opposes both ideas so Teri remains in school when she learns that her beloved Perry is already married.
Teri accompanies her dad escorting a group of youngsters on a special training trip. However due to a sunburst, communications die. Not longer afterward, many of her companions including her dad die. Teri takes charge of the survivors and begins the journey to safety only to find weary despondent gene-engineered humans and conclude that someone sentient attacked Mars with the sunburst.
THE SKY SO BIG AND BLACK is science fiction at its most exciting and thought provoking best. The story line first appears as a futuristic coming of age tale, but quickly expands into several varying layers to include the survivalist trek, the sunburst attack, and the starving Marsformed genetically engineered mutants. John Barnes writes a triumphant story that keeps readers wondering what next and how did the author successfully tie everything back into a cohesive interesting story worth re-reading to grasp all the nuances.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner