This is the second book in a series of three. (I reviewed Noumenon a while back, and I really enjoyed as I remember). You’re not going to be too surprised when I tell you that this book follows on from Book 1, more specifically the ongoing adventures of the seventh convoy as it takes on multi-millennium task of returning to the Dyson Sphere, completing, then activating it … to see what it does.
Yeeessss, the first and most obvious mistake is not doing your research: you don’t just go around switching on devices large enough to encase a sun, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Needless to say, things start go wrong when the newly activated devices starts to behave in unexpected ways.
Like the first book, Noumenon Infinity is a monstrously epic tale spanning hundreds of thousands of years. The cast list, again, is immense, and once again the author treats each one as an individual tale that slips neatly into the massive story arc. The science is sound (in theory) and it was pacy enough to keep me reading constantly … for the first few days at least.
The last few hundred pages were struggled through with bloody-minded determination. The combination of aliens, post-humans, the Dyson Sphere, and the fleet splitting into two then reuniting centuries later was a bit of a struggle, and a little bit tedious at times. The prose didn’t strike me as punchy this time round, and in places seemed a little bit overdone.
Having said all that, I think this was partially my fault at least. Both these books were epic reads, so maybe doing them both back to back wasn’t a good idea. Essentially, it’s the same story told over hundreds of thousands of years. Hardly surprising then that I got a little fatigued near the end.
There’s one more book in the series which I’m going to leave until next year.
The trouble with eBooks is that it’s pretty difficult to judge how big they are. I picked up Noumenon and thought it was going to be a pretty average-sized science-fiction novel.
Well it wasn’t that. This book is epic. It was one of those book that felt like you’d been reading it for years. I don’t mean that in a bad way; the book was absolutely brilliant. It’s just that the pacing was so good, and the characters so well-defined, it felt like I was living every minute of the adventure.
Convoy Seven is a fleet of twelve ships dispatched from Earth in the middle of the 22nd century. The plan is to travel to a nearby star that, according to long-range scans, may be encased in an artificial structure (a Dyson Sphere, if you’re interested). As this is the first real possibility of life elsewhere in the galaxy, the fleet, crewed by one hundred thousand clones of astronauts and scientists, is sent on a three hundred year round trip to investigate the star. And as if three centuries wasn’t long enough, due to space/time dilation caused by travelling faster than light; three thousand years will have passed on Earth by the time the convoy returns.
Set in the far future, mankind is neck-deep in a galactic war with the Mechan: a race of hive-minded machines bent on preventing humanity from spreading any further than its dying solar system.
Fortunately (or perhaps not so fortunately), the military has developed a way of throwing endless resources at the conflicts: when a soldier is killed in action, their consciousness is downloaded into a cloned body, complete with their memories up until their point of death.
The hero of the story is Specialist Adrienne Valero, a soldier with a drink problem who has been resurrected an astonishing ninety-six times. Valero is transferred to a forward recon unit which is tasked within uncovering the motivation of the Mechan enemy and (hopefully) discovering a way to defeat them.
In my humble opinion, this was a pretty good book. It was very heavy on the technical detail, especially concerning the resurrection process which involves transmitting the deceased neurological makeup to space stations where they can be downloaded into cloned bodies. It reminded me of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom; after a while, you get the impression that immortality is not the panacea it’s cracked up to be.