The worst case scenario of nanotechnology has a name, it’s called grey goo. Nanotech that’s running wild, disassembling anything without control or a stop button. That’s what happened to Earth, the Moon, Mars and most of humanity in general in this novel, only that the grey goo is called Mycora (Myco is from the greek word for fungus), named after the first niche of live it filled. The rest of humanity barely survives on colonies far away from the sphere where Mycora exist, coldness is their only weapon against the rampant, technogenic life. But like real life, Mycora is evolving, and it seems as if even these last strongholds of humanity might fall, sooner or later.
The survivors have a plan to find refuge far away from the Sol system, but it costs them time to build the necessary starship. But time can be bought, and one ship is one a mission back into the center of the Mycora controlled sphere to collect information that might help the last humans to buy the time they need. But an unknown group is opposing this mission, a group who think that the mission is far more deadly in nature than even it’s members are aware of, and that the Mycora should be saved at all costs.
McCarthy has a good hand for characters, aside from interesting ideas and good plotting. Since nearly all the plot of the novel takes place inside a small spaceship, the characters were the focus of most of what was happening, and what could have easily been a tedious read of the daily routine of these people, became a tense drama. If you like science and playing with ideas, then you might like all the discussion about cellular automata like I did.
Strangely, despite that it looks from the outside like a very pessimistic novel, after all humanity seems to face complete extinction, it isn’t, in fact it is optimistic. Also the plot has some really killer twists that you won’t see coming.