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Angelmass [Hardcover]

Timothy Zahn
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 28 2001

Timothy Zahn, renowned for his bestselling Cobra and Black Collar series, and for his hugely successful Star Wars trilogy, takes a giant step with a novel sure to thrill science fiction readers everywhere. Mankind has colonized many planets, most under the control of Earth and its Pax Comitus. One group of colonies, the Empyrean, has resisted the Pax, and now the Pax has sent a spy, Kostas, to try to alter the balance of power there.


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From Amazon

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.


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First Sentence
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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Character Development Feb. 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. So the minor tactical twists in the plot that put the characters in tough situations kept me interested--chase scenes, and the like. But the overall plot was just O.K. Characters: 5 stars, Overall plot: 3 stars. Chandris is a bit like Skywalker's wife, no?
In my opinion, this book is much better than Icarus Hunt, but not quite as entertaining as his Star Wars novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Feb. 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. For a very long part of the book very little action happened - I happen to like it when an author writes non-action sequences and still makes them entertaining (which Zahn certainly did).
It's an excellent book.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Zahn's engaging writing style makes this book a real page-turner. He blends some elements of "hard" sci fi within a space opera and spy thriller context. The political/strategic conflict between the Pax and the Empyrean is fascinating, as is the scientific mystery about Angelmass that slowly unfolds as the story progresses. The philosophical issues (can "Good" be quantified? What constitutes sentience?) are thought-provoking and handled very naturally in the narrative. We don't find out the truth about Angelmass until the end of the book.
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Disappointing Nov. 14 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. I hadn't had much experience with Zahn and I could forgive him for joining in writing the Star Wars crap (which along with Star Trek is ruining the SF genre), He seems to be a decent writer with some skill, but this was embarassing. If you want to read some real SF then try some of the British writers like Banks and Hamiliton.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Angelmass, a blackhole of boring Oct. 22 2003
By flodnag
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Interstellar war, spies, con artists, mammoth space ships and a thinking black hole... sounds like it could've been something, but... no, didn't work. The strange thing is that the characters were done pretty good, just the story was boring. Scientist spy is sent to investigate enemy's black hole, and... he does. Meets interesting people along the way. Ta-da. The war is a side story, no sense of panic or really anything, it's happening. The con-artist is the love interest and almost works, yet, doesn't. The battle ship is under utilized, nice side story, but yet unimpressive. The black hole was, well, just there. I never got involved in this book, everything was ok but not exciting. Did like the space travel concept though.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Zahn falters July 22 2003
By jrmspnc
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When Timothy Zahn is at his best, there is nobody better. The Conquerors Trilogy deserves to be remembered as an all-time great, and The Icarus Hunt was a delightful action/suspense novel that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. Angelmass, unfortunately, does not come close to Conquerors or Icarus. It is better than some of Zahn's middle-period works (like Triplet, for example), but not the five-star we'd been coming to expect. (And that's okay; we can't expect a writer to be perfect *every* time, can we?)
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls Flat
There are some books that when they end, you want to run to the book store to make sure your copy wasn't missing any pages. Angelmass is one of those. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2002 by BJ Fraser
4.0 out of 5 stars Change of pace
This is not your everyday novel involving a massive interstellar plot. It involved few character to keep track of. It was definatly a change of pace. I realy enjoyed it. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2002 by shoalin.budda.finger
4.0 out of 5 stars Angelmass is good...
...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 more
Published on Aug. 12 2002 by Turambar_`
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating - and that's good!
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
Published on Jan. 11 2002 by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story--interesting speculation
...
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
Published on Oct. 29 2001 by booksforabuck
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking novel
The black hole dubbed "ANGELMASS" because of what it emits has dramatically changed the Empyrean colonists on planet Seraph. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2001 by Harriet Klausner
4.0 out of 5 stars Zahn can't really make a bad book
This book was pretty good (not great). It was a little lacking in Zahn's typical "take existing sci-fi technology and do things with it no-one has ever thought about",... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2001 by David Mcanulty
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