The novel, Robinson's first, is an expansion of his Hugo Award-winning novella "By Any Other Name."
NOT WITH A BANG OR A WHIMPER
...but with a wail of outraged dispair.
That was how it ended.
For those infected with Caron's Syndrome, virtually every artifact of technological society carries an odor that is utterly maddening.
When the strange, artificial plague arrived, all over the world people exploded form their cities and towns, killing anything and anyone that impeded their mad stampeded for air untainted by technology.
When it was over not one in a hundred had survived. And that was only the beginning...
His name is Isham Stone. He is a twenty-year-old black man, the second-best assassin in the world. He is many miles from home, half-dead, his left arm is gangrenous, and he possesses - like everyone else - a sense of smell a thousand times better than a wolf's. Ahead of him, in the stinking ruins of a great city, hides the greatest killer of all time. Wendell Morgan Carlson. All Isham has to do is stay alive long enough to find Carlson and kill him.
But Carlson is guarded by ghosts.
They rode the winds when Earth was a bubbling rock. They were a mighty civilization before the first amphibians were hatched. they shared thew world with men for a half a million years before either side became aware of the other - and for centuries thereafter we refused to believe they truly existed .
In our arrogance we assumed that life was an exclusive property of solids and liquids...
Now they have declared war on us, and our race is nearly annihilated. Thanks to the man Isham has come to kill...