||The most enjoyable thing about this book was the
universe it was set in. Advances in humanity and culture felt right -and
it was given in a manner that was not insulting to anybody, I think. The
author made no derogatory comments as Arthur C. Clarke did in
personal opinions got in the way. This was a much more believable third
millennium than that one.
Still, the last time it took me a month to read a
book, it was because I hated it, but was determined to keep on going.
That was not the case here. The book was long, but I've read longer
books in a shorter time span. For some reason, although it held my
interest, the book did not keep me turning page after page, drawing me
back night after night. I didn't mind putting it down for several nights
in a row, which is unlike me. And yet, the characters were enjoyable;
the setting unique, as far as I've read. The things the author came up
with blew my mind, at some points.
I've come up with cell storage on my own, as I'm sure
many authors have. But to use it to this extent, I wonder how the
biononics are powered. How much do these people need to eat in order to
power force fields and weapon systems? Humanity is split into various
factions, from the ones that have no supplements, to Higher and Advancer
cultures, which have various degrees of enhancements. Most people access
the gaiafield, a giant internet made up of people and information, where
emotions can be deduced directly, for example. Other humans have joined
the ANA, a post-physical digital realm dedicated to the preservation of
humanity, where people can download. Some of those people maintain their
bodies for future use.
Aaron, an assassin whose memory has been erased yet
knows his current purpose, doesn't worry about killing people to reach
his goal because most of them can be "re-lifed", brought back to life
using their DNA and restored memories.
The entire story is set around a proposed Pilgrimage
by The Living Dream movement to enter the Void at the center of the
galaxy, a place where apparently thought can shape reality. Humans know
from an alien race that the Void has devoured part of the galaxy
already, and might resume its devourment at any time. The last cycle was
when it was intentionally disturbed, so they believe the entire galaxy is at risk by
the pilgrimage. Many alien races want to stop the Living Dream. A man
named Inigo had dreams about a human civilization within the Void, real
enough and shared among humans attuned to his thoughts, that he founded
this movement. But suddenly he resigned and disappeared. The council now
in charge has decided it is time to enter the Void.
Each of the character stories is pretty much separate
at the moment. Most of the characters are working at stopping the
Pilgrimage, on behalf of various factions. Aaron is the most
destructive. He takes possession of Corrie Lyn, an ex-council member who
used to be Inigo's lover. He wants to use her to bring Inigo out of
hiding, so he can speak out against the Pilgrimage. Through them, we
learn a lot about Higher methods and culture, as they visit one place
after another, learning about Inigo's birth through his memory download,
which Aaron steals in a very violent encounter. This was written in a
very interesting fight, in which Aaron's abilities are almost
overwhelmed. They travel to a world of the Raiel, where one alien
downloads Inigo's memories and tells them he is likely to be found on another world,
a dead world that is in the process of being reclaimed after a
devastating interstellar war a millennium ago. They are finding people
who didn't make it to the evacuation point in time, and re-lifing them!
By the end of the book, Aaron and Corrie Lyn have found Inigo there.
The other character who takes much of the story is
Araminta. She starts out as a down-on-her luck waitress, but then
inherits some money, which she uses to buy and refurbish condos. While
looking for appliances, she comes across Mr. Bovey, a human who has
created multiples of himself. He can be in more than thirty places at
once! But to best effect he and she have group sex -one of her, half a
dozen of him or more. And every time she has sex, she dreams. It becomes
obvious after a few dreams that she is the Second Dreamer that everyone
is trying to find. By the end of the book, she realizes it herself, and
communicates with the Skylord in her dreams.
There are other characters, but they are minor in this
book, perhaps to become important later on. Troblum is obsessed with the
Starflyer war of fifteen hundred years ago, and is a technical genius.
He has built a device that can move planets through hyperspace, which he
thinks the violent Prime aliens did before that war. He discovers
something shocking that we are not yet privy to by the end of the book.
There is Paula Myo, who is over a thousand years old, but who comes out
of ANA every once in a while to mingle with society, especially when
there is a crisis. And a few others are scattered around. But it is not
really about the characters. It's about the society, and the characters
are a great way to show it off.
But the most interesting parts of the book were
Inigo's dreams. I wonder if this was because they were more fantasy than
science fiction. I do seem to enjoy fantasy more these days, even if it
is devolved humanity that started out from a high technological society.
Edeard is the main focus on the planet Querencia,
which lies deep in the Void, where his ancestors crashed long ago. In
his village, he is the only apprentice in the egg-shaping guild, which
can use telepathic abilities to shape genetic material in living eggs
into intelligent animals which can be taught to do menial and helpful
tasks for the people. Through seven dreams, we see seven different
moments in Edeard's life. From struggling at his first guild task of
creating a well with the ge-cats, to an expedition where he discovers
how powerful he is, repelling bandits in the wilds (a terrific sequence), we get a gradual and
very informative view of what kind of people live there, and ultimately
why the Living Dream wants to go there. When Edeard's village is
attacked, he and Salrana are two of only a small handful of survivors,
and they are taken to another village, and eventually to the city of
Makkathran. Without his dead guild master's letter of recommendation,
however, Edeard will have to start over as an egg-shaper, though he is
probably more advanced than most of the shapers in the city. Instead, he
joins the constables, where he learns just how much the criminal gang
networks control the city. He makes one enemy in particular, when he
pulls the object of the theft from his hand. The next time, Edeard
catches the man and his accomplices in the process of stealing, but they
get away in court because there were no witnesses and the defense turned
the facts around. Finally, when it was just getting to be too much to
watch this powerful man become a victim, he is set up by the gang. His
squadmates fall into the trap, but he feels it in his gut, and is able
to protect them in the end, surprising the gang at how powerful he was.
He can shape the city into any form he wants, and when the gang is
getting away again, he tells the water to firm up under his feet so he
can chase them in their boat down the canal. And he succeeds. Thus the
Water-walker is born, the messiah of the Living Dream.
There was nothing really to dislike about this book,
except maybe that it didn't have a conclusion to more aspects of the
story. Edeard got some sort of closure in what will undoubtedly be a
turning point in his life. Araminta comes to the conclusion that she
will become a multiple to have a life with Bovey, and she discovers that
she is the second dreamer, rejecting the Sky Lord, so that the Void
appears to start a new devourment phase.
The story was interesting, but somehow didn't draw me
in enough. I was never bored by it, and it didn't drag on, but it felt
too long. Many scenes showed off similar aspects of the society, but I
felt didn't move the story forward enough. I do wonder about the
continuation of the story, however, and will gladly read the second book
in the series.