The Quiet War (novel)

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The Quiet War
The Quiet War (novel).jpg
Author Paul J. McAuley
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher Gollancz
Publication date
Media type Print, e-book
Pages 439
ISBN 978-0575079335
Followed by Gardens of the Sun

The Quiet War is a 2008 science fiction novel written by Paul McAuley.


The Quiet War is a space opera set in the 23rd Century. Some of the Earth's population has fled the planet due to war and catastrophic climate change. In the aftermath of climatic disaster and massive loss of life, humanity has consolidated into three superpowers that control the planet.

The population that fled the planet initially colonized the Moon and Mars, but these colonies were destroyed by hostile forces from Earth. The pioneers—or "Outers" as they came to be known—eventually settled among Jupiter's moons Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede, and Saturn's moons Dione, Enceladus, and Mimas. The Outers have survived by using highly advanced genetic engineering and their pure determination for a free life. They've formed a loose form of democracy which over the course of centuries has been dominated by long-lived humans who still remember the events which caused them to flee Earth.

The Earthly superpowers have struggled to rebuild the planet. The most powerful and aggressive superpower is Greater Brazil, a nation controlling both South and the remains of North America. North America has been devastated by climate change, which caused the destruction of civilization there, with few cities left populated. Greater Brazil has taken over this desert continent and forced the population to live by their "green" politics whereby the population lives in cities while the open land is being restored to a pristine natural state.

Greater Brazil is a corrupt state run by a handful of powerful families; it is anti-democratic and culturally conservative. It is semi-feudal; people who are not related to the ruling families by blood or marriage are essentially property, like medieval serfs. Greater Brazil is threatened by the very existence of the democratic and technologically dynamic Outer colonies, while at the same time greedy for the benefits of Outer technology. Genetic engineering is a particularly touchy subject for Greater Brazil, which interprets extensive "cutting", as they call it, to be against their green political and religious philosophies. For all of these reasons, Greater Brazil wishes to subdue the Outers and bring them under their control.

The novel follows the lives of a small set of individuals, all of them from Greater Brazil, who become caught up in the events set in motion by Greater Brazil's designs for the Outer colonies. These central characters include an arrogant but brilliant "gene wizard"; a space fighter pilot to whom the gene wizard gives extraordinary powers; a cloned assassin designed by the gene wizard to infiltrate the Outers; a soil biologist who is recruited for a joint Earth-Outer goodwill project; and an unprincipled, ambitious weasel of a man who does his superiors' dirty work.

The events of the novel were followed up in 2009 with McAuley's Gardens of the Sun.