01 November 2012

Review: The Two Worlds: Two Giants Novels by James P. Hogan

Kindle eBook, n.pag.
Published 2007 (contents: 1981-91)
Acquired June 2012

Read July 2012
The Two Worlds: Two Giants Novels
by James P. Hogan

This book collects the third and fourth Minervan novels, Giants' Star and Entoverse; I already read and reviewed Giants' Star as part of The Minervan Experiment, so I'm just going to review Entoverse here.

Like Inherit the Stars before it, Entoverse sets up a scientific problem for its characters to solve. Like all of Hogan's attempts to recreate the dynamics of that original story, The Two Worlds fails at it because its premise is at once too obvious and too impossible. The answer to why many Jevlenese are radical militarists (which I felt was sufficiently answered by them being, well, people) turns out to be that the Jevlenese computer, JEVEX, is so complicated that it's actually a universe on the inside, whose properties have given arise to emergent life whose consciousnesses sometimes leaps out of the computer and into the brains of the Jevlenese, and these folks are unable to deal with their new reality.

Oh, of course. It's not exactly the elegant simplicity of Minerva in the first novel, is it?

At the same time the problem seems so bizarre, it's also super-obvious, because Hogan crosscuts the narrative between attempts to solve the mystery on Jevlen and what's going on inside the Entoverse, so the reader quickly figures it out, and spends the whole book waiting for the characters to catch up.  The Entoverse is a great idea, but it feels like an awkward graft on the Minervan novels, which haven't really dealt with this kind of science before. I like these books for their secret history of humanity!

Though this book does give plenty of that-- it's just stupid. Apparently all the terrible people of Earth history are Entoverse-escaped Jevlenese. There's also a lot of ranting by the main characters that the Ganymeans really messed up in assuming that humans were like them, since humans are intrinsically selfish and violent, and the best political systems channel this rather than ignore it. This has two problems: 1) I don't buy it and 2) the novel itself has told us that the worst humans are Jevelenese!

There's also yet another love interest for Hunt; at least this one has a vocation beyond "Hunt's girlfriend," but she barely contributes to the plot, and is pretty stupid for a supposedly experienced journalist.

I was pleased to note that my supposition that Hogan had read Kuhn was proved correct; there are two very explicit references in Entoverse.

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