Voyage From Yesteryear

Voyage from Yesteryear - James P. Hogan I have sixteen Hogan books on my shelves. I've been rereading them years after having bought them to decide which to keep. I've read a dozen of those now, and this is the first one that makes me understand why Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke once praised Hogan as worthy to be counted in their company. Up to now the other books tended either to be too heavy-handed and preachy (especially Mirror Maze) or technobabble infodump (almost all, especially Thrice Upon a Time and Two Faces of Tomorrow), took too long to get going--and in the case of Cradle of Saturn too crackpot--that one was dedicated to Immanuel Velikovsky of Worlds in Collision infamy. According to the Wiki, late in life Hogan became attracted to a host of "fringe" views--one critic claimed he had encountered a "brain-eater." Generally, Hogan's earliest novels are considered his best. Realtime Interrupt was a close runner up, with interesting thoughts on AI and one of his most appealing protagonists, and I found Code of the Lifemaker, with its biomechanical "biosphere," a keeper--just brilliant in concept and with a sense of humor. But so far, with just the four Giants novels to go, Voyage from Yesteryear is the prize. There were one or two dry passages dealing with the physics; Hogan is known as a master of hard science fiction for good reason. But this novel turns more on the psychological and sociological than hard science. It deals with the clash between the people of the Mayflower II from Earth, and earlier Earth colonists who settled on Chiron. The world of the Mayflower represents a neo-fascist dystopia. That of the world of Chiron an interesting utopia, in which, honest to God, I can hear echoes of More's book of that name. It's a classless society where the state has withered away--but that doesn't mean what you might think. At all. That's part of the mystery unraveled in this novel that made things interesting. How could this society work? And beyond that it tells a suspenseful action-adventure tale and has characters I cared about--which actually is unusual for Hogan. So, yes, this one earned its place on my shelves.