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 writers like Larry Niven or Arthur C. Clarke, which so seamlessly integrates hard science and psychology with real people in real situations. By real, I mean that the characters are driven to, and beyond, the limits of their ability to cope, and not only do they come out shining, but they come out reacting exactly like their background and upbringing would have them react. Donaldson's grasp of the human psyche and his ability to cut away the technology and 'Civilization' we so commonly talk up to reveal the underlying nature of humanity is colossal. He paints us, and realistically, as a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog species in a person to person struggle for survival. Which, in my experience, is exactly what we are.