Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Report: Grail, by Elizabeth Bear

Grail, by Elizabeth Bear

This is the final installment of the trilogy begun in Dust and continued in Chill. In it, the nano-tech infested generation ship Jacob's Ladder finally makes it to the planet it had been launched toward centuries before. Unfortunately, that planet is already inhabited by humans who leapfrogged the Ladder while it was marooned. Moreover the inhabitants have engineered themselves socially with the same extreme fervor the crew of the Ladder engineered themselves physically. As the two cultures meet, extremists on both sides attempt to derail negotiations.

I found this book quite a satisfactory conclusion. The ending actually surprised me. Up until the final few pages, I wondered if there were going to be another book, as clarity and resolution seemed to remain distant prospects. Then came a twist I didn't see coming, one which in retrospect makes perfect sense when I considered the main theme that ran through the books (evolution).

My only complaint was a moment when the captain of the Ladder, aware of conspirators on her ship and the presence of an enemy capable of circumventing their defenses, left the ship. That seemed a moment of plot-induced stupidity to me.

But it's a quibble. The trilogy is an interesting exploration of post-humanity, of what we might become when we take our bodies and our minds under conscious control.

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this.

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