Apart from some appearances in some anthologies, this marks the end of the Greg Bear Raw Feed series.
Raw Feed (1992): Heads, Greg Bear, 1990.
A tale of Bear’s that mixes religion and politics to good effect.
I liked the central point that even libertarian minded scientists, businessmen, and technicians who despise administrators and politicos have to pay attention to politics – not only the external threat of foreign governments but the ability of a government to hold a community together, to help it resolve disputes between citizens. The lunar syndicates learn that politics “is the art of avoiding disasters, of managing difficult situations for the benefit of all” in their political fight against a domineering Earth and the Church of Logology.
The Church is quite obviously based on L. Ron Hubbard’s movements and Mormonism, a satire against both. The Mormon parallel is founder K. D. Thierry being handed a crystal rock by a huge female figure (the “last of the True Human”). The rock is supposedly encoded with the secrets to free the mind and body from its shackles (like Dianetics). Like Hubbard, Thierry expounds his doctrines with many books while wondering about the world and eventually retreats into seclusion. Like Hubbard, Thierry sponsors a contest for budding Lit Vid stories. Linking these two is an eerie program by one of the moon syndicates to interrogate some severed heads for archaeological knowledge. (Cryonics was popular in the early twenty-first, but no one figured out how to thaw them out, so – and I liked this feature – keeping the frozen corpsicles around became a real nuisance. They’re frequently sold.) Specifically, the head of one Thierry. The Church of Logolists objects strongly, eventually turning to violence to stop the program. The project is partially run by the strange artificial intelligence QL (for quantum logic) – built by a singular Chinese genius. The QL works beyond regular logic and in the post Boolean realm, completely in tune with the “Planck-Wheeler” continuum. (Bear is a master of creating plausible sounding history, science, and technologies with just a few words.).
The ending was weakened a bit by the almost mystical violation of time and space, the creepy speaking of the dead frozen heads to our narrator. Still, Bear does a nice job melding science, religion, and politics.