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Chaos and Order: The Gap Into Madness [Hardcover]

Stephen R. Donaldson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1 1994
As the planetoid Thanatos Minor explodes into atoms, a specially-fitted cruiser escapes the mass destruction and hurtles into space only a step ahead of hostile pursuit. On board Trumpet are a handful of bedraggled fugitives from an outlaw world - old enemies suddenly and violently thrown together in a desperate bid for survival. Among this unlikely crew of allies are Morn Hyland, once a UMC cop, now a prisoner to the electrodes implanted in her brain; her son, Davies, "force-grown" to adulthood by the alien Amnion and struggling to understand his true identity; the amoral space buccaneer Nick Succorso, whose most daring act of piracy could be his last; and Angus Thermopyle, unstoppable cyborg struggling to wrest control of his own mind from his UMC programmers.


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Punisher is on the run from Billingate Space Station, as well as other predators that follow: UMCP Enforcement Division director Min Donner aboard a crippled Punisher, Nick's archenemy (and slave to the aliens) Sorus Chatelaine aboard Soar, and the mysterious hired gun, Free Lunch. Corrupt cyborg Angus Thermopyle and ruthless Nick Succorso battle for control of the ship and the situation. Their trail leads to Valdor Industrial, where geneticist/engineer Vector Shaheed seeks to redeem himself by manufacturing an antidote to the mutagen used by the alien Amnioni to mutate human beings against their will. Brutalized yet resilient Morn Hyland, her clone/son Davies, tough officer Mikki, Pup, Sib, and the rest continue their suffering and sacrificing.

Meanwhile, back in Earth space, police and politicians battle for power as UMCP director Dios continues his grim revolution against the Dragon. Assassin kazes, political fears, and provocative bills threaten to paralyze the Governing Council for Earth and Space.

Ships battling in space? Laboratory space stations developing antimutagen antidotes against the aliens who seek to conquer humankind by mutation? Outrage, brutality, betrayal, and secrets? Donaldson lays it all out with sharp dialogue, tense scenes, and zippy action. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This fourth installment of Donaldson's Gap series may at first confuse even those who have read the previous volumes, since there's no summary of what has gone before and the plot is extremely convoluted. Once it gets going, though, the action moves forward like a juggernaut. Pursued by a police battle cruiser, by a bounty hunter and by a ship commanded by human agents of the dreaded Amnion, an alien race, Angus Thermopyle heads his ship, Trumpet , for an illegal lab hidden in a chaotic asteroid belt. There, Thermopyle, once a fearsome pirate, now a cyborg partially controlled by police programming, plans to have the secret "antimutagen," which protects humans against the forced mutation practiced by the Amnion, replicated for mass distribution. Aboard Trumpet are the survivors from the pirate ship Captain's Fancy , including Morn Hyland (the series' long-suffering heroine) and her erstwhile tormentor, Nick Succorso. The larger conflict between Warden Dios, head of the United Mining Companies police, and Holt Fasner, CEO of the powerful megacorporation, moves closer to its climax; but the real excitement comes with the extended chase and battle in the asteroid swarm. Series readers will be glad to see that this installment, which at last begins to resolve the overall plot, offers plenty of thrills and an exciting finish that will leave them eager for the fifth and final volume.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While "Chaos and Order" isn't as tightly plotted and intricate as "A Dark and Hungry God Arises", it is still rippingly good. The tale is a rollercoaster from following-on beginning to incomplete end, unlike the previous book, which more amounted to an examination of shifting alliances and intrigue amid the profound psychology of its characters, all concentrating and shifting onto one place, accruing to a kind of psychological "critical mass", at which point Thanatos Minor explodes. One of the core themes of Chaos and Order - running about through a maelstrom of rock, the hurtling debris of shattered plans, shattering and coalescing into new forms - follows on from the diametrically opposing theme of the previous story brilliantly.
As the web of intrigue and murder in and around Earth is expanded to a fully-fledged political thriller, we have the important characters from the previous story - Nick, Morn, Angus, Davies, Vector, Mikka, and with them the rather incidental Sib and Pup - all saved from the storm of Thanatos Minor's ruin and flung off just ahead of half a dozen people who want them alive; or, if they can't have them alive, then blown to atoms like Billingate. Everyone else - from *Captain's Fancy* - is dead. While this may seem like a bit of a *deus ex machina* (subtle nod towards Angus, I'm sure), in practice it works out fine.
They are now on the run, the most explosive body of information in Human Space, and seeking to make themselves even more explosive by letting Vector Shaheed, the geneticist, complete the anti-mutagen drug which the United Mining Companies Police suppressed, which will give humankind a defence against alien absorption, however temporary.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The fourth book in the Gap Series is nearly as excellent as its predecessor, "A Dark and Hungry God Arises". Angus and crew flee Billingate, and a rip-roaring space-chase ensues. Aboard the ship "Trumpet", Angus, Nick, Morn, and other remnants of Nick's old crew find themselves bound together in an unholy alliance as they flee countless pursuers -- the Amnion, the UMCP, and a mercenary paid to destroy them. The big question is who will get to them first. Eventually, "Trumpet's" crew dock at a space-lab so that Vector Shaheed can complete a special formula the Amnion would kill for. Meanwhile, Nick -- ever true to character -- begins inflicting his trademark sadism and cruelty on his "allies". When pursuing ships finally converge on "Trumpet", the ensuing space-battle is one of the most memorable in science-fiction drama. (And there is an absolutely priceless scene involving Angus going EVA in the midst of it all.) Just when you're ready to breathe again, you're assailed by more chaotic and mind-numbing action. Without question the most fast-paced installment in the Gap Series. Catch your breath after this one, then read the satisfying conclusion, "This Day All Gods Die".
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2.0 out of 5 stars Maddening and Chaotic Aug. 12 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although I am a Donaldson fan, I confess my infatuation with his work is at best ambivalent. "Chaos" I found to be entirely too chaotic. It was as if Donaldson perpetually sought to remind us of the title of the book, lest we forget. The book was rambling, lethargic, and entirely jumbled. I got the distinct impression that Donaldson might have been drunk while writing vast portions of the book. He tries too hard to capture a mood. Invariably, he succeeds admirably in doing so but then ruins it all by endlessly rehashing his points. The story drags in his desire to put us all in the "proper" frame of sentience.
This was my least favorite book of the series. He redeems himself (though just barely) with the final book of the series (All Gods Die.) At least at the end he remembers the story he began. Donaldson seems to have a central problem in deciding whether he wants to tell a story of events or of personalities. Between the two he is frequently confused. His writing is at its best during those lucid moments when he smoothly melds the two into a coherent whole. If he was more consistent in this regard, Donaldson would be unequaled.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Donaldson has returned to the splendid level of maturity and complexity he established as his own in the first Thomas Covenant series. In fact he exceeded all of my expectations. (I had doubts after his "looking glass" stuff and was skeptical of his ability to handle "hard science" science fiction.) But Donaldson pulls it all off with a deftness and sensitivity that only our best writers can achieve. His plotlines are intiricately weaved in this tale and (as I state in my teaser above) just when you think things couldn't get any worse for the human race in general and these characters in particular, Donaldson gives the screw another twist.
His characters aren't just flawed. They are real. Good people do evil, evil people do good; for good and bad reasons alike.
This story still sticks with me (I finished reading it when it was first released), and I consider it his some of his finest (and perhaps *greatest*) work.
His fearless use of mature and complex themes and language distinguish this series from the thousands of !hacks! currently working in this field.
Thank you Mr. Donaldson.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Real people
One of the reasons that I liked the gap series and other novels by Donaldson are that his main characters aren't always good. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by A. Yaeger
1.0 out of 5 stars A poor effort
This book pales in comparison to the first two books of the series, and is about as bad as the third. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2001 by Chaon
3.0 out of 5 stars Donaldson is a great writer
I haven't read this particular book, but if it is anything like the other books he has written then I will be sure to like it. Read more
Published on July 21 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
Donaldson can tell a story, but this series was weak. Character development is excellent; but theme clarity is muddy; and there is no climax - in fact - there is no ending, just... Read more
Published on May 3 2001 by S. Hammill
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking!
Unplug your phone, lock your doors and practice holding your breath. Like the previous volumes in the Gap series, this one is impossible to put down, once you start. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2001 by E. Jensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Like all of Donaldson's books, excellent
This book is not so much about the world that the characters are living in, but the characters themselves. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2000 by Dylan Bruzenak
5.0 out of 5 stars Empowerment everywhere
I think this book is the most compelling and powerful in the entire Gap Cycle. All the main characters come into their own power fully in this book. Read more
Published on Dec 23 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Masterpiece
Donaldson continues to write the most engaging, thought provoking, mind-blowing science fiction around. This series is not for the lazy. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 1999 by John A
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Smart Science-Fiction
It is seldom that one sees Sci-Fi with as much attention to detail as the Gap cycle. More to the point, it is not often that one sees Sci-Fi, with the possible exception of... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Horribly fascinating !
Donaldson has a very special way of describing his caracters. He descibes perfectly the most hideous and vile persons/creature ... but is it the bad guy or the hero ... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 1998
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