“This was a very powerful novel, one I thoroughly enjoyed reading (and commenting on too).
There is a considerable amount of characterization, most of it seemed very consistent with prior character development, and where seemingly not consistent, nonetheless convincing (to me anyway) of why. Several characters received the most focus, but there was definitely a balance with other characters getting a good amount of time as well, and a feeling like we’re getting to see a lot of perspectives. There was good character development all around, again with some surprises. A sense of Alpha as a growing society. Growing sense of camaraderie (albeit some in a not so good tone, which seemed appropriate too). Some romantic interludes.
The plot is strong and engaging…”
And then there’s this, my favorite part:
“We then jump to a fascinating scene of John and Victor talking philosophically about their experiences in space, their longing to leave big questions behind to raise the next generation and leave the questions to them, the urge to explore in humanity that seemed completely absent from the Cryptodira, Alpha’s unlikely survival at several turns, the death of the Space Brain, and whether there is a degree of manipulation in some or much of this.
Victor is often blunt here, presumably still feeling the suffering of some but looking at it from a different place, so to speak — logically, philosophically, as objectively as he can, acknowledging that perhaps the universe is cruel even if it seems to prefer life to flourish every where to which it can get itself. Numerous comparisons are made (inc. the short time from first controlled flight to landing on the Moon — one of my long-time favorites), comparisons to Biblical passages and people, as well as talk about Alphans (and perhaps especially John) being “tested” in some manner (something I’ve always thought a curious possibility).
There is even talk, of course, about whether all this discussion points to an imperative to take Pyxidea as their own or whether that would be a “reward for murder,” whether John’s choice is the right one or is a sort of defiance against the universe, and yet another bleak comparison.
It is an absolutely fascinating, highly thematic discussion tying much of the novel together, and to much of the series, and a number of points in the series to each other. I’m not going to even try to get into all of it (at least not in original posting, but perhaps later), and in part because part of me feels like it is an even deeper layer of “spoiler” that I really don’t want to spoil. It is “simply” seven of the most fascinating and masterfully-written pages I’ve read in some time…”