I found Kathleen Goonan's Crescent City Rhapsody by perusing the science fiction section at my local library. Finding a good book using this method is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. I don't recommend this approach. I'd come prepared with a list of books to check out, but most of them were unavailable and so I could only place holds on them. Still hungry for something good to read, I was on my way out when I walked through the science fiction aisles. I plucked book after book, skimmed the opening pages, returned them to the shelf and kept moving. My first requirement: no gimmicky, cheesy, genre-prone writing. My second requirement: a plausible subject. No human-eating aliens, please. My dream book? A sci-fi tale written in a literary style.
Crescent City Rhapsody seemed to fit the bill.
I wanted to like this more than I did. There are some very interesting
characters and story lines (Zeb and his
brilliance-tinged-with-mental-illness; the strange and amazing abilities
of the children in utero during the initial Pulse), and these are what
kept me from shelving this mid-book. But, ultimately, there were too
many different threads and too much time spent on the ones that didn't
interest me. The author tries to tie them all together by the book's
end, but it wasn't enough for me to overlook all the time and effort
spent on the plot lines that were less engaging for me (the nanotech
angle, the biocities). I was much more drawn to what happens in the
opening chapter: a pulse of some sort washes over the earth and silences
everything electrical, and Zeb, a radio astronomer, has a dipole
antenna set up that records incoming information during the silence. Had
the book opened with one of the other story lines, I probably would
have put it down.