- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (Sept. 28 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312878281
- ISBN-13: 978-0312878283
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.6 x 24.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 771 g
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
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
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.
When word reaches earth about these so-called "angels", the leadership concludes that it is a Trojan Horse sent by aliens to conquer humanity. To learn more about the perceived danger from the angels, earth dispatches subatomic research scientist Jereko Kostas to investigate. He quickly joins forces with thief Chandris Lalasha, Empyrean Senator Forsythe and his aide Ronyon in a quest for the truth.
ANGELMASS is as deep a science fiction adventure tale as one can get due to the powerful characterizations and the profound look at intergalactic political, social, and behavioral interactions. The question of what is and who determines ethics is interwoven into the fantastic story line without slowing done the action. Timothy Zahn paints quite a landscape that enables the reader to understand the author's message while entertaining the wide spectra of speculative fiction fans who will fully enjoy this zestful outer space novel that seems like a throw back to the Golden Age.
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. No other SF author I've read comes close to smoothly integrating all those elements.
If you're a fan of Zahn's other books like me then you'll definitely want to read this. While maybe not as good as his others, Angelmass still blows away a lot of SF books I've read.
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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