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Customer reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

on 19 January 2011
The biographical information describes Jyouji Hayashi's forte as "scientific speculation and sociological investigations", and I'd say they got that about right. When it comes to asking questions such as what it means to be human, how you define intelligence (and artificial and extra-terrestrial intelligence) and how communication between different intelligences can give rise to difficulties and conflict, Hayashi comes up with some interesting hard science-fiction concepts. When it comes to normal human interaction and writing convincing dialogue however, the writer is on less solid ground.

The Ouroboros Wave consequently is not a novel in the conventional sense, since there's little indication that the author is capable of creating characters or settings within a normal narrative or dramatic arc. Rather, the book is a collection of shorter stories, all linked together by a central idea. Opening in the year 2123, the discovery of a black hole named Kali heading towards the sun has led to Terrans and other off-world colonists to develop a structure around it, known as Ouroboros, as part of a larger planned station to drag the black hole into orbit around Uranus. The intention is to use Kali as a powerful energy source to extend a network across the solar system. Using this premise, the author considers the various problems that the scientists and societies that build up around it are likely to encounter, and finds solutions.

And unfortunately, unless you like your science-fiction really hard, that really sums up the whole principle by which The Ouroboros Wave operates - the author thinks of problems, and just as quickly solves them. In the first story, for example, the gap between human and artificial intelligence and how they communicate is considered when the AI controlling the structure starts behaving strangely. Inevitably, one thinks of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the comparison does Hayashi's superficial treatment no favours. In the second story, a group of scientists attempt to explain why an asteroid they hope to use for energy transmission has started to rotate. They do experiments and scans and come up with an explanation. Problem is swiftly followed by solution, with little dramatic tension created.

The third story promises a little more action when, recognising that there are likely to be tensions between Earth and off-world colonies, Mars security forces attempt to capture a dangerous assassin who has come to kill the representative of Mars. In reality however, the story is little more than another series of scientific puzzles posed by the Mars environment that both the Guardians and the assassin have to solve ...which they inevitably do, and a little too easily. And so on. The premise is an interesting one, one that is progressively explored from several viewpoints through the various stories in the novel/collection, at least from the hard SF principle of "scientific speculation and sociological investigations" - on a more basic dramatic narrative level, and from the perspective of creating interesting or realistic human characters, The Ouroboros Wave is unfortunately rather lacking.
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