Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review: THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES


I'm fairly leery of sequels in general, whether on the screen or in print. I'm even more leery when the writer (or writers, in this case) are continuing a story that someone else wrote. But having said that, the efforts of Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds in collaborating on The Medusa Chronicles, a sequel to an Arthur C. Clarke novella, A Meeting with Medusa. The basic story is that the atmosphere of Jupiter harbors large life forms, and this book takes that proposition and runs through a millennium-long fable--with the added bonus of an alternative earth history regarding the Apollo program.

As is the case with many books of this genre, there is assumptions that governments here are willing to colonize space, and that there will be an inevitable drift toward one-world government. There's no evidence at all that this will ever be a remote possibility, and so much of the infrastructure of the book is implausible. Still, the tale holds the interest of the reader until the end, when the technical detail becomes nearly incomprehensible and the story moves from implausible to ridiculous. The end, in fact, is as disappointing as that in any book I've ever read, one that ruins a tale that, for all its logical flaws, was very engrossing and entertaining for the first three-quarters of the book.

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