Monday, May 10, 2010

Chaff - Greg Egan

Novelette

Number of words : 8300
Percent of complex words : 14.0
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 16.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 12.2
Flesch : 51.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 10.2


PEOPLE

Agent

Sent in to retrieve Largo.

Guillermo Largo

A Peruvian-born biochemist.

President Golino

Of the UN.

Che Guevara

A revolutionary.

George Grosz

German satirist.

General Douglas fucking MacArthur

American military leader.

Madeleine Smith

Research director.

President Marin

Assassinated in La Violencia.

Victor Hugo

An author not enamored of an early Colombian constitution.

Sophocles

Greek tragedian.


PLACES

El Nido de Ladrones

The Nest of Thieves: Fifty thousand square kilometers in the western Amazon Lowlands, straddling the border between Colombia and Peru.

Putumayo River

In the Amazon.

Bethesda

City in Maryland.

Los Alamos

A nuclear test site.

Lima

City in Peru.


ORGANISATIONS

The Company

The CIA.

The Security Council

Of the United Nations.

Harvard

An American University.

Department of Energy

Part of the US government.

El Comercio

A newspaper in Lima.

DEA

Drug Enforcement Agency.




MEDIA

A Tiling of the Plane with Heroes of the New World Order

By Lee Hing-cheung-early nineties political leaders, naked and interlocked -- Escher meets the Kama Sutra -- deposited steaming turds into each other's open and otherwise empty brain case

Guernica

Spanish anti-war painting.

Hesse, Rilke, Vallejo, Conrad, Nietzsche

In Largo's library.

Heart of Darkness

Book by Joseph Conrad, featuring a character named Marlow.


TECHNOLOGY

Gamma ray imaging

Isotrope tracking method.

Mother

An engineered retrovirus.

White Knights

Secreted the cytokines necessary to unlock the blood-brain barrier.

Southern Rainbow

All twelve major genotypes of Mother, straight from El Nido, cut with nothing but glucose


CONCEPTS

Astrocytomas

Neoplasms of the brain that originate in a particular kind of glial-cells: the star-shaped brain cells called astrocyte.

La Violencia

Civil unrest in Colombia in the 1950s.

Gran Colombia

Political aim of Bolivar.

Gray Knights

Modified type of White Knight developed by Largo. Changes brain neurons around to allow personality modification.

McCarthyists

Fascist American paranoids.


The CIA sends an agent into El Nido de Ladrones to bring back a rogue biochemist named Largo. This is a bioformed zone between Colombia and Peru that sprang up as a project of the drug cartels, wanting a better, tougher and easier to hide product.

It has gone way beyond that to become the haunt of many scientists in their own little areas, making strange and often scary things.

Despite precautions, Largo catches him, and he finds out about the brain modification technology he has been working on. Has Largo changed his personality in this Heart of Darkness?


3.5 out of 5

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