Queen City Jazz Cover Final

Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

In Verity’s world, nanotech plagues decimated the population after an initial renaissance of utopian nanotech cities.  Verity has been raised, an orphan, in a tiny Shaker revival community where all are forbidden contact with the enlivened Cities.  Yet as she grows up on the isolated farm, she is often drawn to the City of Dayton, abandoned nearby, and to its self-contained and still-functioning library.  Her happy life is suddenly destroyed when the Shakers, in spite of their precautions, contract a nanotech plague that possesses them.  Blaze, the only young man in the community and Verity’s best friend, is shot by a crazed elder.

And so Verity, with her dog Cairo—and the body of Blaze wrapped in a nanotech cocoon—sets off on a quest to the Enlivened City of Cincinnati.  It is a place of legend, walled off from the rest of the world. Where huge bio-engineered bees carry information through the streets and enormous nanotech flowers burst from the tops of strange buildings.  It is the place where Blaze might be brought back from the brink of death.

But Cincinnati is a city of dreams turned into nightmares, endlessly reliving the fantasies of its creator, a city that Verity must rule-or die.

This impressive first novel by an experienced story writer combines hallucinogenic visions, historical personae and an original futuristic dystopia. Young Verity has been raised by a reconstructionist Shaker group that bases its religion on the American cult that banned sex and believed in “simple” virtues. The adolescent has strange powers and mysterious compulsions that cause her to seek out and learn things from technologies that her adoptive community has forsaken. After tragedy strikes her “family,” Verity packs up several precious burdens and repairs to the technologically superior but dangerously insane “enlivened” city of Cincinnati. There she meets the passionate jazz musician Sphere and becomes embroiled in mutating versions of a nanotech plague and overlapping views of the historical facts that led to the destruction of rational civilization. In Cincinnati she learns her true identity and how to affect the city’s destiny. Highlights of the book include a scene in which Ernest Hemingway gets kicked off a baseball team because he’s not a “team player” and a mini-lesson in the communication techniques of bees. Also a pleasure is watching the intelligent heroine grapple with responsibility, passion and artistic creation. Goonan’s work is powerful and richly textured. –Publisher’s Weekly

A postmodern speculative fiction on American contributions to the arts–jazz, comics, abstract expressionism, and literature–embodied by Verity’s quest for her origin.

“An unforgettable vision of America transfigured by a new and utterly apocalyptic technology.” — William Gibson

“In the hands of Kathleen Ann Goonan, the science of science fiction becomes something lyrical and vividly human, and the intricately imagined future she presents is thus rendered completely plausible and poignant in the extreme. Queen City Jazz is hands down the best first novel I’ve read in the genre in the past ten years.” –Lucius Shepard

From Library Journal
In a future warped by nanotechnology-gone-mad, a young woman leaves the protected community of Shaker Hill and embarks on a journey to the “enlivened” city of Cincinnati. Hoping to find answers to questions long forbidden by people who learned to reject the technology that betrayed them, Verity discovers the key to the future within herself. Goonan’s first novel combines gentle Shaker philosophy with kaleidoscopic images drawn from Cincinnati’s Jazz Age. The resulting heady blend deserves a place in most sf collections. –Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Kathleen Ann Goonan is a writer, critic, and, presently, a Visiting Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she teaches Creative Writing and Literature.
Her 2007 novel IN WAR TIMES won the prestigious Campbell Award for Best Novel of 2007. Her first novel, QUEEN CITY JAZZ, was a New York Times Notable Book and a British Science Fiction Award finalist, and her second, THE BONES OF TIME, was an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist. CRESCENT CITY RHAPSODY and LIGHT MUSIC were Nebula Award finalists.

Visit Kathy at https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.goonan, www.goonan.com, www.goonan.com/blog, and on Twitter @KathleenAnnGoonan

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