**spoiler alert** There is a certain genre of science fiction where human beings find a massive and ancient alien artifact or ship. They explore that**spoiler alert** There is a certain genre of science fiction where human beings find a massive and ancient alien artifact or ship. They explore that artifact while being completely ignored by the it and whatever attendants it may have (automated or otherwise). They marvel at the age and history and unfathomable alienness of the thing. Then they leave, having found more questions than answers but opening the eyes of our species to a new level of cosmic wonder.
When done well, books in this genre can be a page-turning adventure story about a group of people overcoming tremendous obstacles — all set against an amazing and rich backdrop. When done poorly, books in this genre become monuments to how much math the author has done to arrive at something fantastical yet plausible.
This book was done well. The characters are fleshed out and engaging. The ancient artifacts are compelling and they leave the reader with the same questions that it leaves the book's human civilization: "Who built this? Where are they? Can we find them? Can we talk to them? Can we learn from them?" The other relics of other civilizations our heroes find have their own shades and layers of mystery, leaving the reader with even more questions and idle fantasies while painting a picture of an and well-populated galaxy. The adventures are fast-paced and exciting. The AI is charming.
And ultimately, the chief adversary of the humans in Chindi turns out to be the hubris of members of their own team. Which, in a book that chronicles the self-destruction of countless other civilizations, serves as a solid theme and a good reminder to not do that.
This book was both satisfying and entertaining. I look forward to finding other entries in the series. ...more
I am no fan of the environment. Indeed, I am far more of an antifan. I long for the day when we are forced to flee to giant domed cities where we canI am no fan of the environment. Indeed, I am far more of an antifan. I long for the day when we are forced to flee to giant domed cities where we can finally solve the problems of insects and animals and humidity and sunburn and angry plants and all the other little evils waiting to strike in "the environment". I am also not a fan of terrorists. I hate them even more than I hate the environment.
All of which is to say that I am not the target audience for this book in which the main characters are all eco-terrorists and the plot follow their eco-terrorist activities as they attempt to spread unnecessary mayhem across the Southwest. I am not even in the neighborhood of being the audience for this book. Had the author known me, I am almost certain that he would not have been able to find any use for me. And I am pretty sure that I would feel the same about him.
So it was a tremendous surprise when I started liking this book. I'm not saying that it's a great book. And I wouldn't recommend it. But I was expecting this review to be a long catalog of the book's faults without a kind word for it.
And while there are certainly many faults to list (the most prominent being the weird notion that having a character pee is the height of comedy...), my heart just isn't in it.
The book is fine. Even entertaining. It didn't make me sympathetic to eco-terrorists but that would be a pretty tall order for a novel. So whatever.