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Code of the Lifemaker Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1984
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"Hogan skillfully draws the reader into a fascinating philosophical and theological debate, without ever forgetting he's supposed to entertain and tell a good story."
From the Publisher
This is hard sf with wry humor by the author of the Giants series (INHERIT THE STARS, etc.). In the 21st century, a colony ship destined for Mars ends up on Titan. Its crew--including linguists, psychologists, parapsychology researchers, and a whole passel of soldiers-- encounters a strange race of beings: accidentally-evolved "robots," the offspring of an alien factory ship whose computers were addled by radiation a million years before. Newsday said, and I quote them because this is exactly what I like about Hogan's books, "Hogan skillfully draws the reader into a fascinating philosophical and theological debate, without ever forgetting he's supposed to entertain and tell a good story." (Don't ask me the difference between "entertain" and "tell a good story"; I'm not their editor! I thought journalists were supposed to not mince words...)
--Ellen Key Harris, Editor, Del Rey Books
Top customer reviews
As usual, you need to read in to the story a bit before you understand what's going on. And then you are swept along with the flow of the thing until it all resolves itself at the end. Enjoyable read! Wish he were still (alive and) writing.
The story follows, for the most part, two chief characters, the first being mentalist and all-around huckster Karl Zambendorf, whose savvy team of operatives have been headlining for years leading up to the greatest publicity stunt in history: putting a psychic on Mars. Little does the public know, however, that the interplanetary mission has a hidden agenda involving a sentient machine called Thirg. In a whirlwind of events, the North Atlantic Space Organization is pitted against robotic enclaves of religious fanatics bent on the assimilation or utter destruction of all living things, and it seems that only Zambendorf and his merry crew stand between the peaceful Carthogians and the warmongering Kroaxians.
Fans of hard science will likely grin at the first bit of this book, as it goes to some length to describe evolutionary biology in a robotic analogue, and anyone who has an interest in skepticism and logic will no doubt recognize the similarities between a certain character in the novel and the legendary James Randi. This book found its way into my personal library quite by accident, but it securing a permanent place on my shelves was no accident at all.
Lifemaker is an endearing and really insightful tale regarding religion and science. The major characters are evolved robots that were created by an alien manufacturing plant that landed on a moon of Jupiter . Humans go out to meet them and one of the key humans is a popular psychic. It is at times hilarious and profound.
That psychic and his gimmicks make for a great short story on its own. The Robots have much to learn about their life and religion.
There's a few theme's of the book. One is that a self replicating and administered alien machine infrastructure could, over time, develop in a biological fashion, and eventually acquire life like properties and even sentience. Another is that there would likely be an attempt by humanity to exploit a local sentient race and technologies if discovered, repeating once again the historical story of our conqueror culture. Both themes were played out in a typical Hogan-like believable way that was a pleasure to read. There is a lot one could potentially reflect on from this story, the science and cultural aspects of the story, and what the nature of life and sentience is.
The book ends very optimistically, with everything working out just perfectly in the end. An ending with a few more loose ends hanging around, ragged and still in need of repair, would probably have made the story more believable and realistic. But, hey, it is fiction after all.
Most recent customer reviews
I can sum up this book in one word, ugh