Copyright 1984 by
I first read this on the 8th July 2002.
An alien race gave Earth the Stargate and access to the ten thousand planets of the
Stargate network. Humanity spread out through the stargate and colonised empty planets
on this network.
But then, after nine years of colonisation, an alien attack burst forth through the
gate: poisonous virii flooded the air and alien warriors stormed through. By the time
Earth destroyed the gate, half a billion people had already died and more died in the
months following. Contact was lost with the colonies and of course most of the
colonies failed, since their viability was based on the assumption of the
instantaneous transport of people and commodities from Earth.
With Earth ruined, humanity takes shelter in citidels, vast domed cities, and of those
that stayed outside, most died. Now most of Earth is ruled by the Triumvirate Synody
while in space, the Starforce patrol to protect against any future attack.
A hundred years later, Earth
still fears a future invasion from space by the monsters who attacked
before. However, a faster-than-light drive is finally invented. Earth uses
this to reach the old colonies and re-establish contact with the lost colonies.
Most of the colonies are of course just dead ruins, but some have survived.
The colony of Relayer poses a more difficult problem. It was founded by dissidents
and its forced separation from Earth has perhaps encouraged the colonists in their
extremist views. This is more likely if the colonists find out that they are the
only survivors of their particular racial and religious affiliations, their
earthbound brothers having died outside the citidels.
So Kieran Seacord, artist and unwilling government agent, is ordered to join, under
cover, the mission that will reopen contact with Relayer. With sufficient surgery and
training he will pass himself off as Brian Kuhl, independent movie producer.
I started this somewhat dubiously. Much as I like stargate, aliens and much as I began to
like the irresistible Sara, Kieran's personal AI partner, I was less than enthusiastic
about reading yet another novel about a secret government agent saving the world,
especially as an independent movie producer. Within a few pages, however, I was
intrigued. This is a gripping but thoughtful novel set in
quite a special world. Yes, the elements of this future are commonplace, they've
been used many times in good and bad novels, but McGarry managed to squeeze something
new out of their combination and achieved an SF conspiracy thriller of some quality.
However, I have to admit that I became less enamoured of the protagonist as the novel
progressed and rather more interested in this future world.
So what's it got? aliens, a ruined Earth, the stargate, FTL, secret societies and their inevitable
conspiracies, artificial intelligence and holographic projection. What more could
you want? Well, more on the alien monsters, actually.
Loaded on the 24th September 2002.