Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Gates And Jarts

Greg Bear, Eon (London, 2002).

Corridor inhabitants visit the Frant world, Timbl, through the appropriate gate, a mere four million kilometers along the corridor from the Axis City. It becomes apparent that the gate does not give access to just a single time on Timbl because these visitors do not arrive there simultaneously with earlier or later visitors from the corridor.

Of the Jarts, we are told:

"'When the Way was connected and opened, there they were - much as they are today. Strong, intelligent, aggressive, absolutely convinced they're destined to populate all universes. We fought a violent war with them...'" (p. 389)

Maybe the Jarts will do more than this but, so far, I find their adherence to the stereotypical sf villain image of aggressive cosmic conquerors somewhat disappointing. I suppose there could be a technological civilization with such a motivation but surely the vast majority of them would want to do something more interesting than populate every universe?

Describing a society as complex as that of the Axis City requires the author to introduce new terminologies that are taken for granted by the characters and that must be learned quickly by the readers. Axis citizens continually pict each other and even the visitors from the twenty first century have learned to tract. I will have to reread to find the meaning of that second verb.  

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