Top critical review
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on 19 May 2012
This book is the final work in a trilogy which was begun by mysterious aliens - labelled as the Hypotheticals, because they remained unseen - transporting the Earth via an enclosing 'time bubble' into the far future, when the Sun is swelling and dying. Technology pretty much halts in the upheaval and Earth is left in chaos.
A colony on Mars, however, benefited as time flowed slower there and technology advanced again. A Martian arrived on Earth bringing the knowledge of human immortality but was mysteriously killed. Mars is then shut off in its own 'time bubble' but knowledge of the immortality treatment gets out...Later, a giant Archway appeared in the Indian Ocean and offered access to a sequence of empty planets similar to Earth, and these are slowly explored and exploited for their resources, or used as hiding places by various groups.
There are two narratives in this latest, and final, installment. One is a story set on Earth and involves a psychiatrist, Sandra Cole, being given responsibility for a homeless boy, Orin Mather, by an unusually caring and interested policemen, Bose. The odd thing about Orin is that he writes a journal, about the adventures of two characters called Turk Findley and Allison Pearl.
This is the other narrative strand. Turk Findley, a pilot with secrets, who appears earlier in this trilogy, awakens during a battle taking place at the Archway to Earth. A giant flying habitat has been attacked and brought down. Turk meets a woman from the habitat, which she calls Vox. She has two personalities, a Vox and a human one, 'Allison Pearl', and the latter gradually takes control. Vox is repaired and they go aboard but the people of Vox are cultists, all wired together to share feelings, of which the most powerful is to meet the Hypotheticals. Vox's treatment of those not sharing this goal is ruthless and Turk and Allison learn to dissemble as they secretly plan to escape. Both narratives converge. Turk's motivations are revealed through a pivotal early experience. His actions on Vox precipitate the final crisis, after another earlier character is encountered who serves as a narrator of the conclusion.
I found this final volume to be a let down. Nothing much is moved forward in our knowledge of things since the first novel. While the human stories are well told (as ever with this author) the three novels could have been compressed into a single volume. The main point of this last last novel seems to be a rather tired warning about global warming, as the Earth that that the Vox journey through is dead through over-use of oil etc imported to Earth from planets connected via the Gateway. Compressing things would have sharpened the impact of the story.