Details: (c) Bruce Sterling 1996; pub Phoenix 1997; ISBN 1-85799-884-7
Verdict: Holy Fire is an enjoyable read, recommended.
Reasons for reading it: lethargic_man wanted me to read HF so that he could refer to something in it. Yes, we do take the whole bacterial sex thing to extremes. What can I say? Anyway, I'm not at all sorry I read HF, cos I got on very well with it.
How it came into my hands: lethargic_man lent it to me.
Holy Fire struck me as a kind of Brave New World for the 21st century. It's very well crafted; the dystopian society seems plausible (even if the underlying science sometimes degenerates into technobabble), and there are strong characters and a good storyline. This is definitely a book I found hard to put down.
Parts of HF are exceedingly funny. The scene where the newly rejuvenated Maya picks up a bloke in Munich is delightful. And there's some lovely satire on things like shareware, childish 'anarchist' politics, fluffy tree-hugging 'spirituality' and so on. I also loved the animated loo brush which attacks Maya and her junkie associates in the squat. And interesting discussions on the nature of art and happiness and things, which however are never intrusive.
I'm not entirely sure I agreed with the view HF seems to be pushing. It didn't quite convince me that giving up all possible privacy in exchange for virtually unlimited resources and healthful longevity was entirely a bad deal. And yes, society is polarized, but basically the have-nots are so much better off than any have-nots in any real society that I found it hard to accept that they were opressed. I found myself in sympathy with the Widow, who is the voice of the status quo that the protagonists are in rebellion against. In other words, dystopian future portrayed in HF struck me as considerably less dystopian than Huxley's version.
But on the whole, HF is well-written, and thought-provoking, and moving, and a thoroughly good read.