This is just one of dozens of conceits in a novel that combines the best themes from books like Out on Blue Six and Desolation Road, handles them with the masterful hand visible in Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone and the Sturgeon-award-winning Tendeleo's Story, and folds in all the contemporary themes in sf like the Singularity and the cratering of cyberpunk memes and spits out a 575-page epic that I couldn't put down until I'd finished it.
Ian McDonald has been one of my favourite writers for some 15 years now, and the amazing thing is, he's getting even better.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.