1.0 out of 5 stars
When Sci-Fi goes bad, Oct. 30 1998
I read this book because it was a Hugo nominee. I concluded the author (I certainly can't call him a writer!) must have had a lot of friends who voted for him. It reads like a juvenile parody of a bad science fiction novel by the sort of literary critic who despises science fiction without reading any.
The plot is a poor attempt to duplicate "Star Trek," with a pretension to greater scientific knowledge and psychological complexity.
The scientific pretension is evident in the long, complicated digressions Mr. Sawyer makes to explain the physics of the novel. It is *ALMOST* enough to make you think that he cares, at least, about good science, even though he shows no concern for anything else. But that's an illusion, rapidly dispelled by the way Mr. Sawyer cheerfully ignores real science when it gets in the way. As the previous review noted, spaceships rarely "swerve" in space fast enough to avoid on oncoming laser "bolt." And the convenient time-travelling that is thrown in to help the protaganist out of his difficulties towards the end of the book have to be read to be believed.
Mr. Sawyer attempts to show psychological complexity by providing the internal thoughts of his central figure. Unfortunately, his central figure doesn't seem capable of thought, greatly undermining this effort. He meanders through the book, considering adultery--AND ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. It's as if, having given the figure (I don't say character) the single subject to think of, Mr. Sawyer couldn't devise anything else for him to consider. He wanders around considering adultery and firing photon torpedos, or considering adultery and firing phasers, or considering adultery and solving quantum field theory equations, and just generally boring the hell out of those of us along for the ride.
The rest of the figurines in the book are even less substantial.
This book is not good, it is not fun, and it is not necessary. Please do not read it, as we do not want to encourage its author to strike again.