August 24th, 2006

20111112, Marilee

Time Patrol by Poul Anderson

This was our book group book for August and although everybody liked it, we didn't have much to say on it. This is one of two collections of Time Patrol stories, the other being The Shield of Time and the newer editions at the library had one more story than my edition did, so I decided to buy Anderson's Going for Infinity to get the story.

The Time Patrol was set up by a race of post-singularity humans far far in the future in order to preserve their time period after time machines are invented. People are recruited throughout the past, present, and future and if they pass tests, are offered jobs with the Patrol. Most jobs are field research or data organization, but some agents are Unattached, with more power and wide discretionary power. Most of the stories are about Manse Everard, an Unattached agent, and how he keeps history the same. Almost all of the stories in the book explicate myths and legends by going back to those times and finding out what actually happened and making sure it kept happening. I particularly liked the short novel "The Star of the Sea." Recommended for myth lovers.
20111112, Marilee

The Spheres of Heaven by Charles Sheffield

This book follows Mind Pool, although it is not a direct sequel. Humans are sequestered within a light-year of Earth by the three other intelligences in the galaxy because of their violence. The other intelligences control the Links (wormhole-like handwavium) that allow travel and suddenly there is a new link where none has been before. Each intelligence sent a ship that didn't return (and humans did, too, secretly). Now they want to mount a formal mission, run by humans. When the humans go through the link, they find a strange place. The other ships are there with their crews, but there is a hostile, also-foreign, alien force on the planet. The story of the multiverses, the depiction of how different species think and act, the adventure and tension, and the plot are all very good. The book ends sufficiently, but it's clear there was to be another book and Sheffield didn't get to write it before he died. Great adventure and characterization.