The Ophiuchi Hotline
Copyright 1977 by
I first read this in 1979 and most recently on the 18th September 2005
There are many aliens out there in the depths of space.
Out somewhere in that vast dark, the Ophiuchi Hotline has been broadcasting
the entire sum of an alien race's knowledge. Little has been decrypted but
that which has is of fabulous value.
Back here in the Solar System, but not on Earth, there are the
half-human hybrids, divorced from the rest of humanity's concerns, freed
from the gravity wells of planets, living their lives as artists of outer
Not all aliens are friendly however: Other aliens came, devastated our
civilisation and threw Earth-based humanity back into the stone age.
Then they took up residence on Jupiter, maintaining a quiet but
Knowledge gleaned from the Ophiuchi Hotline allowed the Lunar and
other colonies to survive. Life goes on and most people accept
the new state of affairs. They believe that there is nothing they can do to
reclaim Earth or to expel the aliens from Jupiter.
Tweed is not one of these people. He's the ex-President and a master
criminal. He is determined to use any means possible, within
or outside the law, to regain what he believes is humanity's birthright:
the Solar System and everything within it.
Lilo is a scientist and another criminal. She has been found guilty of
the capital crime of illegal biological research. Although she's going to
die, she plans that her clone, secreted far from Earth and due to awaken
soon, will take over her life's work.
Tweed, however, wants Lilo and her knowledge. He won't let a mere death
sentence get in his way. He's after her and her clone.
Now there's a new problem. After four hundred years, the latest decryptions
from the Ophiuchi Hotline appear to be saying that the information is not a
free gift. Now it seems that the alien masters of the Ophiuchi Hotline are
demanding payment and no-one knows what payment, or when, or what dread
penalties will entail if the debt remains unpaid.
Fabulous, wonderful stuff. This is John Varley's first novel, and he was
rightly called "The New Heinlein". It stunned me when I first read, it remains
a favorite and I became a firm fan of his writing. It's got intriguing
characters: the humans
Lilo, Cathay, Vaffa and Mari. And then of course the wonderful
Parameter-Solstice, free from the constraints of space-suits and spaceships,
just floating in space.
What's it got: a beautiful babe as a heroine, in fact several of them all over the Solar
System; an evil criminal genius, inscrutable aliens, more aliens, and alien-human symbiotes
cloning all over the place, romance and excitement,
Loaded on the 1st May 2006.