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McCarthy, Wil

Entry updated 27 February 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of US engineer and author William Terence McCarthy (1966-    ) who began publishing sf with "What I Did with the OTV Grissom" for Aboriginal in May/June 1990; his first book appearance was the very thin chapbook Dirtyside Down (1991 chap dos). In his first novel, Aggressor Six (1994), which begins the two-volume Waisters sequence concluding with The Fall of Sirius (1996), thirty-fourth-century humanity is confronted by an implacable Alien race which wages interstellar war against us, and is only defeated in the end as a result of discoveries made by a team of humans who have been trained to think like the enemy; the second volume, leaping forward a millennium, features further complications. The eponymous self-replicating Nanotechnology featured in Bloom (1998) invades and absorbs all life on Earth in a Grey Goo scenario, though one Starship escapes, and as the Bloom's systemic complexity expands and intensifies into an information-based communal entity (see Information Theory), there is some chance that humanity will find Transcendence within its compass.

McCarthy's second sequence – the exuberantly inventive Queendom of Earth series comprising The Collapsium (2000) and The Wellstone (2003), both assembled as The Monarchs of Sol (omni 2003); plus Lost in Transmission (2004) and To Crush the Moon (2005) – is set initially in a high-tech distant Near Future Earth, where Black Holes are used in the construction of gigantic structures, a world monarchy knits together the individualistic pandemonium of a Nanotechnology-enabled population, and Wellstone, a "programmable material", generates new elements, including Unobtainium. The later volumes, though new Inventions tumble over each other, are significantly darker, as Economic realities begin to call the shots, along with Climate Change and Overpopulation. The Terraforming by compression of the Moon, in order to house the population explosion, works until Entropy, as always, demands payment. By the end of the sequence, the inner planets, except the Moon, are burned-out husks, though McCarthy – who is a genuine Hard SF writer despite his dramatic understanding of the costs of Technology unbound – does see hope for some evolved version of the human race (see Evolution), some of whose members share his exuberance.

Some singletons, like Murder in the Solid State (1996), evoke the flow of Queendom of Earth, but on a small scale. Rich Man's Sky (2021) sees the Solar System as a playground subject to the high-Technology whims of a small number of visionary trillionaires; readers can hardly fail to be reminded of the grandiose schemes proposed by Elon Musk of SpaceX. This novel won a Prometheus Award.

There is a strong sense that McCarthy's best work may be yet to come. [JC]

see also: Elements; Matter Duplication.

William Terence McCarthy

born Princeton, New Jersey: 16 September 1966




Queendom of Sol

Rich Man's Sky

individual titles

works as editor



previous versions of this entry

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