Lerner gave Small Miracles the “Page 99 Test” and reported the following:
Small Miracles is a novel of nanotechnology, one of the most promising – if also the most hyped – technologies of our time.Learn more about the author and his work (including his collaborations with SF master Larry Niven) at the Edward M. Lerner, Perpetrator of Science Fiction and Technothrillers website and at his blog, SF and Nonsense.
Briefly, nanotech deals with building objects at the scale of nanometers (billionths of a meter), and doing so with atomic precision. When the technology matures, it will be revolutionary. Think: materials without any microscopic flaws or impurities, orders of magnitude stronger than steel. Think: photovoltaic cells able to exploit even UV light, to be much more efficient than today’s solar cells. And getting to Small Miracles, think: nanoscale medical robots – nanobots – smaller than individual cells in the human body, ready to repair and enhance at the cellular level.
When the gas pipeline exploded, it took a small miracle – or rather a myriad of them – to save Brent Cleary’s life. Only now the small miracles have a mind of their own. And an agenda.
Page 99 sees Kim O’Donnell, Brent’s best friend, trying to make sense of the changes in him. A near-death experience alters a person, but she senses something more has happened. She seeks insight from the head of biological research at the company where she and Brent both work. But the researcher is dismissive, serenely confident in the failsafe mechanisms built into the first-aid nanobots that have saved Brent’s life.
Has Brent changed? Could bots circumvent the very sophisticated mechanisms that safeguard patients? How can anyone go about finding stray devices so tiny among the trillion-or-so cells of the human body?
Does page 99 reflect the overall quality of the book? That’s hard for an author to judge. But I can say with objectivity that page 99 embodies the conflicts the characters must face throughout the novel.
And if they guess wrong, woe to … all of us.