Fingering the bureaucracy of alien invasion (3/5)
From February 28, 2011
Rear cover synopsis:
"For thousands of years--evolving a miniature physiology for a life of peace and philosophical contemplation. Modyun agrees grow his body large and to return beyond the barrier, where animal-men roam the world. His quest will lead him deeper into darkness and deeper into the uncertain..."
Battle of Forever is
simply a miserable title--easy to forget and reflects very little from
the story. It has to be one of the worst titles for a sci-fi novel right behind Philip K. Dick's Zap Gun E.E. Smith's The Skylark of Space (neither of which I remotely
Modyun is a modified human living in the Ylem where
all 1,000 humans live a multi-millennial philosophical existence. When
the question of what is happening to the sentient man-animals the humans
left behind, Modyun is set out to inhabit a human body and discover
what has become of the world they departed so long ago. As four
beast-men befriend the naïve Modyun, passing himself as an ape as there
are no longer any humans to be found in the flesh, he experiences a
shift in the laws the humans had left the animal-men to follow... which
is where the story begins.
Finding that the hyena-men have taken
the role of an unnecessary government, Modyun later finds the pusher of
the move- the Nunuli race who conquered earth before humans hermetically
secluded themselves. Behind this alien race is yet another race with a
hidden agenda and so forth and so on. Modyun finds himself aboard a
spaceship, the same ship employing his four friends, where they are off
on a predestined route to search for new worlds to conquer.
story begins to lose a lot of steam when the ship finally reaches a
planet. I liked the story of dealing with alien bureaucracy but having
to shift between true reality and perceived reality (if those are the
right words to be chosen) is a tedious business which should be left to a
much thicker novel (like Banks' Transition ). In the last ten percent,
especially, the reader must be vigilant about the mindsets of the entire
cast, who can play who and which means to an end need to be met, etc.
It might just scramble your brain or urge you to chuck it in the bin. I stuck
it out and kind of shrugged, uncommitted to either liking or disliking the entire rigmarole.
So, like Man of a Thousand Names
this novel is a bit heady with bodily disconnectedness but with even more ideas crammed into its future
history. I liked the future history of the novel, it is quite unique but
I just wish the plot wouldn't had been so spastic and far-flung. A nice
terrestrial sci-fi story never hurt anyone. A must for any van Vogt fan
but a polite pass for the non-so keen reader. I'm not even sure if it warrants a re-read, but I need more van Vogt in the collection before I can draw more comparisons to his earlier and later works.