Angelmass Hardcover – Sep 28 2001
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How does Hugo-winner Timothy Zahn turn an otherwise straightforward SF page-turner into something truly interesting? With one of the oldest shticks in the book: the good ol' black-hole-that-spits-out-quantum-particles-of-human-goodness trick.
Of course, that's not exactly an old sci-fi shtick, but the essence of it (and its effect) is: the ever-clever Zahn has taken a very cool idea--what if there were quantum particles (or whatever) that compelled people to act ethically--and then explored the impact that might have, in this case on a society and its internal and external interactions. The particles in question are called "angels," and the interstellar alliance known as the Empyrean has been blessed with Angelmass, the eponymous black hole that emits them. The greedy, Earth-based Pax empire sees these angels as a brainwashing alien invasion and threatens to invade the Empyrean itself to set things straight. Thrown into the fray to explicate the implications are a bumbling but earnest Pax scientist-spy, a pretty young grifter, a brother-sister pair of grizzled space vets, and an Empyrean High Senator who fears the complacency that angels have bred into his society.
Fast, fun, and thought-provoking, Angelmass combines Star Wars-style action (which Zahn knows well) with enough substance to satisfy a more serious reading. --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
Hugo winner Zahn (Conquerors' Legacy and numerous Star Wars novels) offers a satisfyingly complicated story of an alien force, Angelmass, that has for decades been spewing off particles called Angels, which have power over human behavior. Angelmass has become a significant part of the governing structure of one interplanetary system, the Empyrean, and a source of concern for its legendary enemy, the Pax Comitus. A series of marginalized characters contends with its social effects and other properties: Jereko Kosta, an academic researcher into atomic physics trained as a Pax spy; Chandris Lalasha, a highly skilled thief who is escaping a dangerous lover and hoping for a big score; High Senator of the Empyrean, Arkin Forsythe; and Forsythe's aide, Ronyon. Forsythe is ostracized because he doesn't like the Angels that all senators are supposed to use, Ronyon because he is mute and of low intelligence. Predictably, these individuals become the heroes of the story, willing to pursue unpopular scientific theories (Kosta opposes Pax and discovers important information about Angelmass), to sacrifice their goals for others (Lalasha learns to help her friends, personal and intergalactic) and to question official scientific and governmental opinions. Through in-depth characterization, as well as toothsome scientific and political mysteries, Zahn unfolds an intricate tale of adventure sure to please his many fans.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
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There were two of them waiting as Jereko Kosta climbed awkwardly up the ladder through the shuttle hatch: a young ensign and an equally young crewer second class, both clothed in shiny black and silver Pax military uniforms, the glistening red and blue threads of the Komitadji's insignia pattern swirling with arrogant pride across collarbone and shoulder. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Also, the main characters are very believable and realistic, in my opinion. Kosta, Chandris, Forsythe, Telthorst, Lleshi, Ronyon, Hanan, and Ornina are all very human, and each seems to have very valid reasons for his or her actions. Their motives are believable and reasonable, given their backgrounds. Each character has his or her own fears/vulnerabilities and aspirations, and I found them all to be very memorable (BTW, I keep imagining Christopher Lee as Lelshi, due to his aristocratic, military demeanor).
I found the plot to be highly engaging, and I found the ending of the book to be very satisfying. One previous reviewer thought there were some loose ends, but I don't see it that way at all. I found the conclusion to be perfectly reasonable, without resorting to a "storybook picture-perfect" ending with everything neatly tied with a bow. On the contrary, I found the ending had more of an authentic feel to it.
If you're looking for a science fiction story with both a sense of wonder and action, this might be what you're looking for.
Angelmass is a black hole that spits out "angels." What the angels are and how they affect humans is the center point of the novel, and often the science babble overwhelms the story. Characters here are often too wooden, and sometimes seem to be caricatures of previous Zahn characters (High Senator Forsythe reads like a dumbed-down version of Talon Karrde, for example). We learn on the last page to our astonishing lack of surprise that the two main characters are becoming romantically involved - a result both blatantly predictable and poorly developed.
But then one doesn't read Zahn for character or romance, does one? Zahn is best at plotting and action, and Angelmass provides both. Zahn is a master of battle - both space battles and one-on-one combat, and there is enough of each here to please any Zahn fan. There's political intrigue, too, of course. In short, Zahn fans will find enough here to enjoy. Non-Zahn fans, however, may read this one and wonder what all the Zahn fuss is about.
I shouldn't be surprised really. All of the Zahn books I've read: the Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy, the Conquerors Trilogy, Star Wars Hand of Thrawn Duology, and Icarus Hunt all have the same kind of open-ended finish, but in those cases there was always enough excitement to make the trip worthwhile. Angelmass, however, moved along slowly but didn't have much of a payoff for readers who plodded through the first 500 pages waiting for the "secret" of Angelmass to be revealed and for the big showdown between the Pax and Empryans.
The good thing about Angelmass, though, is that Zahn sticks to his strengths. The overall universe is about the same as the Conqueror's Trilogy and Icarus Hunt (and even his Star Wars books) and similar enough to our own that he doesn't need to spend the whole book explaining how everything works. There's more science featured in Angelmass, making it less approachable than his last efforts, but in small enough doses so that it doesn't dominate the entire book. The characters are fairly well-written, though some seemed like warmed-over versions of characters from previous novels. And as always, Zahn uses a mix of political intrigue, military strategy, science, and con artistry to full advantage.Read more ›
The Empyrean has found a way to keep their polititions and high ranking military members ethical. The use of angels. The angels are produced by a small black hole aptly named Angelmass. The Pax, a goverment that seems like the good guys at the begining, see the angels as a alien intelligence trying to warp the minds of the Empyreans. The Pax has sent a young inexperienced spy, Jeriko Kosta, to find out the truth behind the angels. But instead finds the whole thing to be utterly confusing. Meanwhile the Pax is sending a task force to "liberate" the Empyrean's form the angels. This presses Kosta for time to find what is really going on out at Angelmass.
I was expecting a plot more like the other Timothy Zahn books I have read. Nevertheless i still enjoyed this novel aproach on the whole good vs. evil idea. The only thing I didn't like was the sub plot with the Adjutor's real agenda came out at the very last and didn't have the mystery and guessing I would have liked with plot twists. All in all, a good book.
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent development of the main characters. I cared about them enough to be concerned for them--I didn't want to see them get hurt, etc. In fact, I really liked them. Read morePublished on Feb. 29 2004
Angelmass was not really at all what I was expecting. It was very interesting and forced me to ask specific questions about the character's actions. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by Christina A Matta
I finished this book, but afterwards I have to wonder why. The characters were trite, the plot was juvenile, and the science in the science fiction was ludicrous. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003 by Jeffrey Owens
Well, what can I say. I finished it, and I can't say I hated it, but I wasn't rushing home to finish it either. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2003 by flodnag
...but not excellent. At first look, the actual concept is very original and promising. It is both of those, but there's something about how Zahn takes it that doesn't make it as... Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2002 by T
Before I ramble on, I'd like to say that I recommend Angelmass, so please don't take this review as being negative in any way.
"The door dialated. Read more
Author Timothy Zahn writes an exciting novel. ANGELMASS is enjoyable both because of the adventure plot and also because of the interesting scientific speculation about... Read more
The black hole dubbed "ANGELMASS" because of what it emits has dramatically changed the Empyrean colonists on planet Seraph. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2001 by Harriet Klausner