Williamson's characters seem incapable of judgment, generation after generation. I found their lack of common sense utterly frustrating. Led by the author's drive to embroil them in poetic and melancholy disaster, they are never allowed to exercise a maturity beyond the level of impetuous children.
Despite his agile prose, imaginative flair, and high concept, his book fails utterly at the one crucial place where a story should connect with its reader - at the human level: Do we relate to these people, are they like us? In their place, what would we do? What does each say about us all?
Over the thousands of years and multiple iterations of the same characters, stupidity seems to be a mathematical constant: every spaceflight turns to disaster for want of fuel, every safari ends in what appears a wasteful and pathetic death, every first contact in enslavement, and always due to a lack of preparation an planning easily evident to a reasonable person.
Essentially, his puppet characters simplify his narrative task by remaining incapable of using their reason, holding their tongues, and exercising a free will that would exercise caution when faced with risk. This allows Mr. Williamson to follow his muse: Their foolishness propels the narrative and opens vistas, but rings false.
Has wisdom, thought and will been bred out of these carousel horses, or does Mr. Williamson simply not care about them?