The Godwhale

While I work on a new series of posts about James Gunn, you get this one.

Raw Feed (1998): The Godwhale, T. J. Bass, 1974.

Cover by Darrel K. Sweet

This book is allegedly, according to its back blurb, a sequel to the earlier written Half Past Human.

In the dense prose, I really couldn’t get any clues as to internal chronology. As I recall, the oceans in Half Past Human were lifeless, and the Procyon Implant reseeds them in this novel.

There is also a reference to Dan, a dog with golden teeth, which could refer to the dog of Half Past Human. His leptoscul records (the least scientifically convincing aspect of the book) are said to be ancient.

On the other hand, the buckeyes of Half Past Human are hardly mentioned.

The plots of both books are roughly the same.

Outsiders (here the Benthic dwellers who have adapted to living by and below the sea via knowledge and leftover technology – presumably from the days the Hive tried to settle in the seas – alluded to in the earlier novel) fight the Hive with the help of rebels and castoffs from ES.

As in the earlier novel, an old space probe, K.A.R.L., shows up at the end – though as a derelict and not to save the day – the oceans are seeded early on.  Continue reading

Half Past Human, or, Adventures in Reviewer Parallax

There hasn’t been a lot of posting on this blog lately.

It’s not that I’ve been idle. I’m working on a new series of which over half is written, but I won’t post it until all the individual posts are written.

In the meantime, since bloggers MPorcius and Joachim Boaz were talking on Twitter about T. J. Bass’ science fiction novels , I thought I’d put up reviews of them.

Here’s the first. Joachim Boaz’s take is here.

Fletcher Vrendenburgh reviewed it over at Black Gate.

Raw Feed (1998): Half Past Human, T. J. Bass, 1971.

Half Past Human
Cover by Michael McInnerney

 This book belongs to a subgenre that includes Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, William F. Nolan’s and George Clayton Johnson’s Logan’s Run: the dystopic city dweller trying to flee – usually with a lover – into the country and into a better society. (George Orwell’s 1984 featured lovers finding no refuge from their urban hell. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World featured a rustic commenting on its world).

This novel’s strength is that it uses the devices and character types of all these novels. Moon is the rustic never part of the Hive, its sworn enemy. Tinker, like Logan, is an enforcer (or, at least, an enabler) of the dystopian order who finds itself on its bad side and throws his lot in with the five toed aborigines. Kaia the hunter, through a pharmacological accident, goes abo and likes it. Moses the Pipe Man also is attracted to the abo life.

Of course most novels with this plot have the loyal supporters of the status quo. Here those figures are the clever Val (who ends up an involuntary stud for five-toed genes to the “buckeyes”) and Walter, who is sympathetic to the buckeyes but feels he must do all he can as he waits for his soul to be taken by O.L.G.A. (The book is full of acronyms. This one is a spaceship.). Only Val is pretty consistently unlikeable. Continue reading