Thursday, July 7, 2011
Recently read: "Moon Flower" by James P. Hogan
I really didn't want to read this. I first read Hogan in high school, starting with Thrice Upon A Time. That book, along with Inherit the Stars help cement my interest in SF. I followed Hogan for a long time, until he starting going off the rails (my last book of his was Cradle of Saturn, which I knew was bad, but read just to see how bad it could be).
One of my book groups picked this one to read (I think partially because Hogan died last year, and this one was in print and easily found) so I read it to see how bad it was.
Ugh...Earth is a mess, being dominated by massive corporations (ok, nothing new here) and "developing" new worlds (there's a FTL drive which allows us out of the solar system). On the planet Cyrene, Terrans from the base are disappearing. Myles Callen, a facilitator for the Interworld Restructuring Corporation is sent to find out what is going on, and to find physicist Evan Wade, one of the humans that has left the base.
Marc Shearer, an idealistic physicist who was a colleague of Wade's, is given the chance to go to Cyrene (the corporation hopes Shearer will lead Callen to Wade). Once there, Shearer finds that Wade has laid the groundwork for him to follow, with help from the Cyreneans.
Once on the planet, most humans find themselves becoming more like the Cyreneans, less interested in being selfish, and more about "doing the right thing".
I guess this is a spoiler, though the once you start the book the title gives a bit of it away, but there's a flower on Cyrene which somehow (handwaves quantum physics) allows some communication backward in time. This allows people to make the "correct" decisions. (This occurs on Earth, but is too faint for anyone to recognize. Shearer has been doing research into this. The flower acts as a sort of antenna for the waves).
One of my biggest problems with this story is that, given that humans are screwing up the planet, the solution is through a "magical flower". It's very depressing.
Well, that's one problem The book is also badly written, with most of the characters being bland, despite some background information. There's also bad science (including a bit of Velikovsky, which really serves no purpose in the plot) including some wonky orbital dynamics of the Cyrene system.
Hogan isn't the first author to lose his way as he got older, but really stands a an excellent example of such. I saw him a few years ago at an ArmadilloCon, and got him to autograph a couple of books. He asked "why none of the new books..." which I was able to laugh off (I really didn't want to go into that with him at an autograph table).