Visions of Paradise

Friday, October 22, 2010

Godlike Machines, part 3

Sean Williams’ A Glimpse of the Marvelous Structure (and the Threat It Entails)” is a complicated title for an equally-complicated story. On a future Earth people live in layers beneath the Earth. Two detectives are investigating the death of a person who is actually one of the two detectives. The other detective is apparently a spy from space sending back information he is garnering about life beneath Earth. Most of the story consists of the two detectives wandering aimlessly in the various levels beneath the surface while a mysterious entity called the Director is randomly killing people on each level, somehow related to the arrival of the two detectives. And the detective who is fated to die seems unconcerned either about her own death or the Director, but instead is seeking some mysterious being she calls Trelayne.

Sound confusing? The climax of the story does not really explain any of it, but introduces an explanation equally as complicated as the story itself. While I actually enjoyed reading this story, ultimately it was more senseless than satisfactory.

Robert Reed’s “Alone” is a tale of the Great Ship, his fabulous series about a gigantic ship which was apparently built by an ancient alien race, then abandoned and claimed by humans for a trans-galactic tour. Its inhabitants are members of numerous alien races, and their interaction provides much of the basis of the stories in the series. “Alone” is about an ancient being who has been hiding in the great ship for millennia before being sighted by one of the ship’s numerous captains, who considers the being a danger to the entire ship. The being’s efforts to elude the captain and survive are interesting, if not particularly gripping. While this is not one of the highlights of the series (such as “The Remoras” or “Marrow”), it is still typically-good Reed.


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