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|The Sixth volume of Brian Stableford's future history concludes the series
and also refers back to its beginnings.
Through five earlier volumes, Inherit the Earth, Architects of Emortality, The Fountains of Youth, The Cassandra Complex and Dark Ararat, Stableford has mapped out for us in engaging stories the wonderful and sometimes disturbing world of the next thousand years, on Earth, throughout the solar system, and to worlds beyond, with emphasis on huge sociological changes and extraordinary alterations in the biological life of humans.
It is one of the most detailed and plausible and fascinating projections in all of science fiction. Now, in The Omega Expedition it takes us into another millennium, and is complete.
The Omega Expedition is a philosophical novel, a sequel to The Fountains of Youth. It is the extraordinary life history of Adam Zimmerman, developer of the technology of emortality. The main part of the narrative describes his long-delayed awakening into the 35th century, a time of true immortals.
His exotic hosts - inhabitants of a microworld in the outer solar system - have recruited various interests to help with the resurrection project, one of whom (inevitably) is the famous historian of death, the immortal Mortimer Gray, who is exceedingly anxious to gain what insight he can into the vagaries of the mortal mind.
The Omega Expedition is a richly textured, serious SF novel that will resound like a bell, ringing down the halls of science fiction for years to come.
Published 2nd December
2002 by Tor
Review by Ian Braidwood
Cast of Characters:
Well here we are, at the consummation. If this novel doesn't work, neither does the whole Emortality series
The story follows the reincarnation of Adam Zimmerman and is loosely based on the short story: And He Not Busy Being Born
Yes, I do realise that reincarnation is the wrong word, but reawakening doesn't seem appropriate, since Adam has been away for over a thousand years and rejuvenation isn't suitable, because Adam has only been in storage; he emerges from cryogenic sleep with all his ills and more.
Another point that I feel is important enough to make is that And He Not Busy Being Born should not be allowed to dictate how The Omega Expedition is interpreted. The intentions of an author writing a novel can be quite different from those writing a short story, so my advice is to allow the novel and short story to stand independently.
Our narrator is Madoc Tamlin, who was Damon Hart's friend from Inherit the Earth. He's a good choice, because he's no technician and yet, a character who knows how to handle himself. He's a likable man we can sympathise and identify with, and a man whose independence is beyond question.
Madoc is awakened as a trial run for Adam Zimmerman and not only does he have to deal with the indignity of this, but he also finds that Christine Caine a notorious multiple murderess has also been unthawed. The fact that Madoc has no memory of being frozen down helps to ramify his confusion, along with the setting a space colony full of emortals, who look like nine year old girls.
Thanks to the Ahasuerus Foundation, Adam Zimmerman is a very important man; indirectly responsible for the development of emortality itself. Not surprisingly, every political regime from the Solar System and beyond wants Zimmerman's approval. This is great, because we get to meet Mortimer Gray again, as well as Michael Lowenthal and Alice Fleury, Mathew's daughter. Not that it is necessary to have read The Fountains of Youth, The Architects of Emortality, or Dark Ararat any more than Inherit the Earth. Like the other Emortality stories, The Omega Expedition can stand on its own two (metaphorical) feet.
The essence of The Omega Expedition revolves around the choice that Adam Zimmerman is presented between the various different forms of emortality available to him; for there seems to be an inevitable tension between youthfulness and wisdom. However, before that, everyone has to deal with a new threat from a completely unexpected direction and I'm not referring to the microbial blight revealed in The Fountains of Youth.
The Omega Expedition does come with a very useful introduction, which not only recapitulates the plots of the five previous novels, but explains that some of them are in fact comedies. This is comedy in the Dr Strangelove sense, rather than Monty Python's Flying circus, though The Omega Expedition does in some places read like a farce. By this, I don't mean that novel loses its intellectual edge or degenerates into nonsense, but that the characters often have little control over what happens to them.
Overall, I feel that The Omega Expedition is a very successful conclusion to the Emortality series, as well as in its own right. Brian has left a lot of significant material for last, which makes for a worthwhile novel and delivers a lesson for those of us who dream for things beyond our reach.
I hope Brian is very proud of his achievements with these books, because they are overt science fiction which could act as ambassadors outside the field; for its lesson applies to them equally.
All my hyperbole about these books has been vindicated.
The Brian Stableford Website