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Inherit the Stars (Sept 2010) > The Gentle Giants of Ganymede

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message 1: by Tomislav (new)

Tomislav | 51 comments SPOILER ALERT - This book is a sequel to Hogan's Inherit The Stars. While I always try to avoid posting spoilers of the book I am reviewing, even the background situation of this book would act as a spoiler to the science mysteries of the earlier book. Read Inherit the Stars before continuing with this review.

Ironically, after noting in my review the lack of DNA testing on the 50,000 year old remains of the human found on the moon to determine his evolutionary relationship to Earthly humans, Hogan starts this book off by posing a science mystery coming out of the DNA chemistry of the 25 million year animal remains found in the crashed spaceship found on Ganymede. This book was written only one year later. Maybe Hogan did some catch-up work in that year.

This book unravels the paleontological mysteries involving the Ganymeans who lived 25 years ago on the lost planet Minerva (now asteroids between Mars and Jupiter), and traveled within our Solar System. Shortly into the book, the human scientists investigating the mystery on Ganymede receive unexpected visitors. A spaceship of Ganymean scientists, that left Minerva on an unintended 25 million year-long relativistic journey to another star, return. They are able to reveal many clues regarding their own origins and civilization, but almost all interactions with then-Earth happened after their departure from the Solar System, and they cannot explain the presence of the crashed spaceship on Ganymede.

The exposition of the solutions to the science mysteries of this book was well-paced, but to judge this book on the basis of character development, or motivations other than the search for knowledge would be a mistake. On that basis, I am sure it would be quite dry. What the book does offer is a very imaginative exercise in hard sf, and I enjoyed that.


message 2: by Ron (new)

Ron Funny, it struck me more as fantasy than hard SF. No orcs and elves but just about as fanciful.


message 3: by Tomislav (new)

Tomislav | 51 comments Ron: Well, that's an interesting response. What made you see it as fantasy?


message 4: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments As I noted in my comment on Inherit the Stars, while DNA per se is not mentioned, there is a commment at location 820-33 kindle (24% of book)that refers to analyzing and using genetic codes in reproductive cells. And I don't think DNA was on the radar in 1977 - found a list of dates that suggests the key breakthrough that allowed DNA profiling came in 1980, here: http://www.crimtrac.gov.au/systems_pr...

Am 3/4s of the way through Gentle Giants, & tho' Inherit is certainly a better detective science fiction I am enjoying it nevertheless. Clearly, tho', neither book is for those who like a lot of action, personal relationships & conflicts. But then, one of my complaints about many science fiction books is that they are too loaded with such personal relationships and conflicts.

I also can't see this as a fantasy book. It strikes me as a, at lest semi-, serious attempt at a plausible scientific analysis of an admittedly fictional situation. While I am sure there are many holes in the science, more now than in the late 70s, it is clearly founded on hard science and not on fantastic worlds in which anything goes, no matter how implausible. If we accept Ron's assessment then all science fiction is fantasy.


message 5: by Tomislav (new)

Tomislav | 51 comments Watson and Crick's work on DNA was in 1950s. Genetic profiling identifies individuals by differentiation in the non-genetic areas of DNA, and that did come later. But I think it would be reasonable to expect sf that involves evolutionary genetics to make use of it in 1977 - as Hogan did in 1978. He was not a scientist like many hardsf writers, but wrote Inherit the Stars while he was a computer salesman at DEC.


message 6: by Charlotte (last edited Oct 26, 2010 04:22PM) (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments Tomhl wrote: "Watson and Crick's work on DNA was in 1950s. Genetic profiling identifies individuals by differentiation in the non-genetic areas of DNA, and that did come later. But I think it would be reasonab..."

Yes, I accepted that DNA was known about, but they had not gotten to profiling yet. I also had not gotten to the part of Giants where he used DNA (the comment at the beginning was, I think, similar to that in Inherit), but I still think the comment in Inherit is close enough, even if it does not specifically refer to DNA. He did explore many scientific concepts and to have not pursued one does not seem that egregious to me! especially since he did pick it up in his next book.


message 7: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments Nearly finished Giants, and the lack of personal conflicts is beginning to get a bit annoying. A situation comes up, and you think now there are going to be problems ... and nothing happens! He's gone just a bit too far in the non-confrontational direction, just not natural!


message 8: by Tomislav (new)

Tomislav | 51 comments @Charlotte: After GGG, I felt most of the major mysteries of ITS universe were resolved, and so moved on to other books by other writers, rather than continuing the series. If you do go on with the series, I'll be interested to hear how you like it...


message 9: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments Hi Tomhl Was happy enough by the end of Giants, although I did not find it as good as Inherit.

Had a look at the next one today, but decided I was not ready to read it yet. Maybe in the next few days. It does sound like it has a few new plot twists so we shall see. There is an author's preface to The Two Worlds that contains #s 3 & 4 in which he said he might publish a 6th volume, but I guess that won't happen now!


message 10: by Charlotte (last edited Oct 31, 2010 09:44PM) (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments Tomhl wrote: "@Charlotte: After GGG, I felt most of the major mysteries of ITS universe were resolved, and so moved on to other books by other writers, rather than continuing the series. If you do go on with th..."

I am halfway through Giant's Star, and I think you will probably like it - it introduces more major mysteries in the ITS universe, and is just about as good as a mystery story as Inherit the Earth, and there are actually some conflicts, good guys and bad guys!


message 11: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 13 comments Finished Giant's Star. It has lots of twists and turns with some of my favourite themes appearing - sometimes briefly but as crucial parts of the story so left me satisfied. Won't say what they are as they would be definite spoilers. Think you should read it Tomhl. Will be reading #4


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