While the study of how to put people in a small
container for years produced some interesting dynamics, the overall
purpose in sending humans out to the star of the Others was basically
ignored. The resulting catastrophe, however, was huge, and I wonder how
the author will complete the story!
I’ve delved a bit into
human behavior while traveling on long space voyages where people can’t
get away from each other, and need to find something to do. This book
indicates that human nature, i.e. sex, is a huge factor in keeping people
amused and distracted. Of course, Carmen Dula was sexually energetic
back in Marsbound. Here the author does not hide her sexual interests,
nor those of the other people who get on board their spaceship.
After the Others detonated a bomb that was supposed to wipe out all life
on Earth at the end of the last book (but which Paul sent to the other
side of the Moon, saving the planet for the moment), humans have been
designing a spacecraft that can take them out to Wolf 25, the star where
they saw the Other from Triton flee to. The people on board are supposed
to tell the Others that humans can be trusted to not attack them, and
possibly to negotiate some sort of treaty. But it is not clear, even by
the time they make contact, how they are supposed to do that. The Others
are incredibly powerful; at the end of the book, it appears that they
can defy the speed of light to communicate (such as Moonboy’s message).
All the crew is able to do is wonder at the destructive
capability of the Others, and return to Earth. However, if the Others
found out about the warships humanity was constructing, they would
surely have known its intention was not to attack. I suppose the trick
is knowing that humans are capable of regime changes, and that a
defensive fleet could easily turn into an aggressive fleet.
focus in this book is the journey, and the dynamics between the various
people. The three people from Earth were all spies, and are married in a
triad. One of the men worked for Israel, which was devastated in a
two-pronged attack of poison gas not too long ago (I wonder if this will
become important in the third book). He longs for Carmen’s
body, though he doesn’t do anything more than stare, through the whole
voyage. His wife gets the chance to sleep with every man on the ship,
except probably Paul (though Carmen isn’t absolutely sure about that).
This causes some tension among the other wives, of course.
spaceship itself was interesting, a habitat attached to a comet, which
provides the fuel for the ion engine, powered by the mysterious energy
source that the Martians introduced to humanity. I liked the pool,
almost as much as the Martians enjoyed theirs, once it was built for
them. At the halfway point, they turn off the engine and turn around, so
they can decelerate towards the Others’ star.
It’s at that point
they get a visitor, an avatar in near-human form created for the purpose
of observing them and communicating with them. It turns out the Others
work really slowly, but very efficiently, planning for all
circumstances. They decide to let humanity live, for the moment. But
they take one each of the human and Martian crew to stay with them and
become part of their living library. Since Moonboy was damaged by sex
with Elza and having her bring up his abusive past, the Others choose him.
They also show the crew a dead planet, once occupied by beings very much
like the Martians, but who decided to attack the Others. Their world was
baked until everyone and everything died. It is a lesson meant to keep
the humans cautious.
It’s difficult to make a novel that takes
place over several years. Usually it takes the form of what this author
did, with entries every year, or half-year, describing what happened. In
this case, all of the action happened in the first couple of months, and
very little during the intervening years. Fortunately, the Others tell
the crew that they think about Time all wrong, and send them the rest of
the way in the blink of an eye. I liked that the author didn’t try to
explain it. Even as they approached Earth, humans tried to contact them,
but their minds were sort of suspended so that they didn’t see the time
that passed, and couldn’t contact Earth. It was pretty neat.
thing I really didn’t like about this book was the opening chapters. It
reviewed the previous book, but it was from several points of view, and
didn’t add anything to the story. I think it could have been eliminated
without any problem, or at least made much better.
And so the
Others destroy Earth’s moon, sending the particles around the planet to
destroy all the warships and satellites, as well as the space elevator.
And when humanity’s government decides this was another test and tries
to launch a rocket, the Others respond by taking all power away. How
much and what they have taken is a mystery at the moment, and will have
to wait for the next book. But they explained that the free energy came
at the expense of energy in another universe, from a “donor world”.
Earth has now become a donor world, as planes crash to the ground and
cars stop working, and who knows what else… The Others are serious about
not letting anybody become a threat to them, and will tolerate no
disobedience. And we all know how humans like to be bossed around… I’m
interested in knowing how this ends.