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Pub Date Feb 23 2021 | Archive Date Jan 08 2021

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A man battles his addiction to a devastating nanotech drug that steals identities and threatens the survival and succession of mankind as a galactic species.

After the Nova-Insanity shattered Earth’s civilization, the Genes and Fullerenes Corporation promised to bring humanity back from the brink. Many years later, various factions have formed, challenging their savior and vying for a share of power and control.

Glow follows the lives of three very different beings, all wrestling mental instability in various forms; Rex – a confused junkie battling multiple voices in his head; Ellayna – the founder of the GFC living on an orbital satellite station and struggling with paranoia; and Jett – a virtually unstoppable robotic assassin, questioning his purpose of creation. 

All of them are inextricably linked through the capricious and volatile Glow; an all controlling nano-tech drug that has the ability to live on through multiple hosts, cutting and pasting memories and personas in each new victim.

In this tech-crazed world where nothing seems impossible, many questions are posed: what makes us who we are? What is our ultimate purpose and place in this world? And, most frightening of all, what are we capable of doing to survive?

File Under:  Science Fiction [ Hivemind | One More Fix | No Escape | Run Like Hell ]
A man battles his addiction to a devastating nanotech drug that steals identities and threatens the survival and succession of mankind as a galactic species.

After the Nova-Insanity shattered Earth’s...

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Average rating from 19 members

Featured Reviews

I've been waiting for this book for about a year and whooooodoggie did it surpass expectations. The story was fresh and exciting, there are detailed descriptions of the characters and environments, and it gets surreal and dream-like in places adding to the complex mystery and plot. Glow is also a dense book, as in it seems bigger than its four hundred pages. There's a couple converging plot lines told through a multitude of character viewpoints and there's a ton of background stuff about not only the characters but the world and the history of how-we-got-to-where-we-are in the story in general. I loved the action as well. It's big and juicy and some of the weaponry ideas are staggering in their awesomeness. The final thirty percent is one long action sequence that changes locations about a dozen times and includes shit falling to the planet from space after being blown up, a seriously badass one man wrecking crew synthetic organism thing that does some mind-blowing shit to some deserving bad guys, and spectacular reveals that explains just what in the hell had been going on during the previous seventy percent. Did I mention the killer android nuns with dark secrets? Well, yeah, they're in here, too.

The author, Tim Jordan, has a strong, clear voice and was able to convey a very intricate and seemingly incoherent mix of happenings into a fun and entertaining read that does not insult the readers intelligence or rely on info dumps to further the story. I knew I was going to like this from about the first page as the writing was rich and concise and it all just seemed so new. A new voice, but one I connected to right away.

Thanks to Tim Jordan, Angry Robot, and Netgalley for the review copy, opinions are my own.

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When someone discovered cheap 3D-printable fusion power and gave it to the world, it seemed like a good thing. Right until someone else figured out how to make it explode. Then all hell broke loose, flattening cities and destroying the space elevators that tethered the orbiting cloud cities.

There are three main threads to follow and the narrative switches back and forth frequently. There’s Rex, a down-and-out Glow junkie struggling to consciousness in an alley with a corpse tied to him. It’s not an auspicious beginning. But you may be more interested in Jett, a nearly indestructible synthetic voidian, who first appears dropping from orbit and evading the defense grid of the Alliance, the current global power, or Ellyana, one of the founders of the corporation that built the orbital cities and developed the life-extension drug Simmorta. Ultimately you can be sure the stories will collide, but the most human of them is Rex’s, ironically so, because he’s convinced that he was once a dog.

In this debut novel, Tim Jordan has created a rich world, and his three main characters take you through different levels of it, reminiscent of last December’s Complex by A.D. Enderly. Rex is taken in by a cybernetic order of Sisters/Nuns, devoted to creating a future god and (among other things), helping people to kick Glow.

Glow falls into the collection of books where an AI wants to have a real body of its own, though frankly, I’m not sure they know what they’re in for. It’s a great story that does an interesting job of not cheating a lot on the science side. Sure, Jett is made of nearly indestructible smart matter, but the cloud cities use spin gravity and their aging populations may have fled to VR worlds, but only by accessing implants rather than uploading their consciousnesses. Even Glow doesn’t get off easy in its efforts to become real.

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Humanity has stalled. The world-shaking event known as the Nova-Insanity has caused the GFC - manufacturers of the life extending nanotech drug Simmorta - to sequester themselves inside their orbital platform. Once connected to Earth via space elevator, they now live isolated and in constant fear of infiltration by the powers that be on Earth, as well as by a deadly foe of their own making. Meanwhile, Coriolis City, the manufactured island port for the space elevator, has become a hive of gang activity and criminality, where the memory altering drug known as Glow ravages the increasingly addicted populace. The void spawned assassin known as Jett searches for answers across this decaying landscape, while the mysterious addict known simply as Rex struggles to piece his shattered memories back together and understand his past.

In stark contrast to its cosy sounding title, there’s a distinctly grungy feeling to Glow. This isn’t a shimmering, shiny white plastic vision of the future where everything looks like it just rolled off the Apple manufacturing line. No, this is a world of partially collapsed buildings inhabited by increasingly desperate members of society, with acres of the surrounding land scarred into vitrified glass by the devastation of the Nova-Insanity. Things are little better high above Earth, where filthy orbital platforms are occupied by paranoid corporate business leaders like Ellayna, who clutches at her last vestiges of power while jumping at shadows. There’s tons of atmosphere and style here, all with a liberal handful of grime rubbed across it.

Tim Jordan does such a wonderful job of setting the scene thanks to the level of detail he provides; indeed, the Nova-Insanity itself could be a book all of its own. When the plans for a microscopic solid-state fusion reactor were released for free to everyone with a 3D printer, the catastrophic consequences of hackers realising they could be rigged to function as devastating weapons of mass destruction brought humanity to the brink of annihilation. The inextricable links between the setting and this succinctly delivered piece of backstory - as well as its impact on humanity’s wary approach to technology in the event’s wake - is a masterfully conceived piece of storytelling. It also ensures that anyone who stands against the technologically advanced voidian known as Jett doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Jett is a singularly deadly entity, a biotech being made of fullerene fibres and topped with a leering skull. Able to survive an onslaught capable of destroying a small army, he is sent to Earth by his voidian mentor and fellow adversary of the GFC, Ursurper Gale. Like a cross between Venom and the T-1000, Jett closes on his prey through a variety of means, be they grisly interrogation tactics or all-out, blistering assault, morphing between forms for infiltration, deception or unmitigated carnage in the blink of an eye. His adaptability and combat proficiency keep him far more than one step ahead of most assailants, as he literally rips apart those who get in his way, often before they even realise what’s happening. Amongst the existential probing and the corporate wrangling taking place elsewhere, Jett’s scenes are entertainingly action-packed segments of hyperviolence.

That’s not to say, of course, that these other elements of the story are dull - far from it. Rex, with his addiction and seemingly inexplicable resistance to the ravages of Glow, is a veritable treasure trove of mysteries and intrigues. His head is full of the memories and personalities of past addicts, carried along with his gruesomely recycled drug of choice. He’s picked up early on by the Sisterhood of Salvitor, a group of robotic nuns who believe in the coming of an entity known as the Future-Lord, and are eager to nurse the recovering addict back to health. It’s through Rex that some of the deeper philosophical dives take place, with a recurring theme of the fallibility of memory and the consequent ramifications akin to the likes of A Scanner Darkly. He frequently questions his reality, his sense of self and his own mind; at times, it can be a lot to wrap your head around, but clarity comes with hindsight as the storylines converge and weave together in a way that’s both satisfying and highly climactic.

Glow is an immensely entertaining and hugely ambitious debut, a tale of technology running riot - quite literally, in some cases - that’s packed with interesting ideas and themes, not to mention visceral action perpetrated by morally grey characters. Tim Jordan has aimed high here, and it’s paid off spectacularly. One to watch.

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This will not be for everyone. It's a bit of a downer overall, and the ideas are not always fully flushed out. However, there is good action and the author has a vivid imagination which is on display. I'm sure this will please many sci-fi readers.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!

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I'd been dying to read GLOW for...well...forever and was thrilled when Netgalley offered me an ARC. I absolutely loved the sci-fi world, the relentless action, and vividly imaginative. Set in a world where humanity has come to a screeching halt as the result of Nova-Insanity, the ultimate question seems to be: What is our purpose? Who are we without our own minds and memories? I love how Jordan imbued the entire story in these types of questions and it's echoed in the three beings we follow in the story. This is what sci-fi is all about!

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Glow was a great novel, with fascinating storylines mixing with interesting characters . Jordan writes inner monologues as well as any author currently working, and his characters develop slowly throughout the story. He drops you into the middle of the action without too much exposition; what you need to know, you learn piece by piece. I had a difficult time putting myself into the shoes of the protagonists, but without a doubt Jordan is one of the better SF writers currently publishing.

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Humanity was given an inexpensive, 3d printable fusion reactor. They quickly figured out how to make it explode. Which soon led to chaos as cities were flattened and the orbital stations were cut off from the ground.

There are three main characters;: Rex, who is hooked on Glow and just trying to survive the dystopian hell left behind by the Nova Insanity. Ellyana, who is one of the founders of GFC (the corporation that makes the life extending Simmorta) lives on an orbital station and is fighting her own paranoia. And my favorite, Jett. Jett is an assassin with a robotic body and nanotech that can change his shape and abilities on the fly.

Each of these characters has to face up to what their life means and what, exactly, life is.

I highly recommend Glow to those who like sci fi. I was surprised to find out this is a debut novel. The world building is well done and the characters interesting and believable.

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