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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Off Armageddon Reef

Weber, David. Off Armageddon Reef. The story begins in 2378 with the first assault of the Gbaba, an alien species intent on wiping out the entire human race. There is no communication, no negotiation, just a ruthless attempt at extermination. By 2421, mankind has realized that there will be a final battle and that they will lose, but they have one final card up their sleeves. Operation Ark is man's last effort to preserve their species.

Operation Ark is a colonizing expedition sent deep into space with the intention of building a new civilization that avoids technology that might attract the Gbaba. The planet selected is called Safehold, and the majority of those who make the trip have been re-programmed to forget all of the technological advances they knew before this last desperate attempt. Invention and innovation are frowned on, and the Church of God Awaiting keeps a strict eye on any possible infractions.

Charis is a rich, powerful, and innovative country on planet Safehold, and the Church interferes in a number of ways to keep the country under control. As the Church begins its campaign to curtail Charis' power, a PICA (Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar or android) who has been sleeping for centuries, awakes and determines to aid King Haarald and his son Cayleb in defying the corrupt machinations of the Church. Although the mind and memory of the PICA belonged to a young woman who perished in the final battle against the Gbaba, Nimue Alban realizes that a woman would have no influence in the society that has developed on Safehold, and through the technology that has been lost to the Safeholdians, the PICA re-invents itself as a man, taking the name Merlin.

I have to say I enjoyed every minute of this massive saga. There are a passel of characters to keep track of and that is a bit confusing because of the names: Zhansyn, Ahdymsyn, etc. However, after a few pages, it becomes clear that they are simply unusual spellings of common names--Johnson, Adamson, etc. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Fiction. Science Fiction. 2007. 592 pages.


  1. This one sounds fascinating - so many philosophical threads, along with a well-thought-out plot.
    Have you read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell? It has religious themes also, blended into a tale that seems to re-imagine Columbus and his men meeting an alien culture --

  2. So clever of you to figure out the names.

  3. Your description of the plot captured my attention. What an enticing idea.

  4. wow... that is some plot. I'm not a big SciFi fan though but I have read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. It's also very philosophical and you might like it if you haven't read it already.

  5. teabird - I really enjoyed this book. It was quite long, but I didn't want it to end, and look forward to more. I haven't read The Sparrow, but her A Thread of Grace was one of the best books I read last year. Loved it.

    booklogged - Even after I figured it out, some were more difficult than others...I had to say them out loud to get it!

    Framed - I always like books that take a civilization back to a medieval time without the technology they are accustomed to, but in this one, even the memory of technology is removed.

    Arukiyomi - I haven't read Stranger in a Strange Land. I'm not sure why; it really is a classic. One of those holes in my reading tapestry that needs to be filled...