THE COLLAPSIUM by Wil McCarthy
Del Rey, July 2000
Bruno de Towaji has become the richest man in the solar system by inventing collapsium, a practical and portable black hole which can be used to create communications systems, or whole worlds. Indeed, Bruno has retreated to a world of his own to escape the press of his fame. When a rival scientist miscalculates his use of collapsium and begins a process that will destroy the sun itself, Earth's Queen Tamra calls on Bruno to save the solar system.
THE COLLAPSIUM is written as a sort of future history targetting children for whom Bruno and Tamra would have been ancient fairy tales. Bruno initially manages to save the system from accident without being transformed from his socially inadroit status. A decade later, however, the problem is sabotage and the solution cannot be purely scientific.
Wil McCarthy has created an amusing universe and a believable future science for it. Bruno, like Heinlein's Waldo, finds himself unable to fit into the normal universe but also manages to surmount it. His desire for Tamra, the woman who best fits into the normal world makes his isolation all the more powerful. The little robot Hugo, whom Bruno has separated from the house computer to evolve on his own, can be seen as a metaphor for Bruno himself, as well as for his arch-rival, Marlon Sykes.
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