- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Amer Book Pub (March 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1589820517
- ISBN-13: 978-1589820517
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,074,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Otherhood Paperback – March, 2002
Top Customer Reviews
There's an Orwellian flavor Zammana's novel, in fact, I haven't yet decided if it pays tribute to 1984, or if it is his response to it, but the fact that some of it takes place in the year 2084 is probably a significant clue.
This may or may not be great literature, but it's sure great science fiction. It's epic in proportions, and I have to confess I didn't realize just how good it was until I'd finished. Like a Dickens' David Copperfield, it's complex and involved, yet everything wraps up fairly neatly in the end. The story of each character is resolved, yet questions linger. Who really is The Otherhood? I'll probably have to wait for the sequel to know all the answers. Hurry up with it please.
At times, I got the feeling I was reading an impressionist science fiction art - one painted in stark, broad strokes. Should someone have complained to Van Gogh that his women didn't look "real?"
What got to me about The Otherhood was what brought me back here to put in my three cents worth: he's made his story last longer than the book. I can't get it out of my head. It's one of those puzzlers, one of those let-me-run-that-through-my-brain-once-again kind of stories. At first, I couldn't understand why my friend had recommended it to me... now I find I'm doing the same favor for you.
This is a novel that portrays Globalisation at its most extreme and vicious: Robert Jones is seen as the unethical head of corporate America by his brother, Victor, who vows that he will do anything to stop him. Genetic technology forms a great part of the novel, and is indeed instrumental in the construction of the terramyd. The terramyd certainly has more than its fair share of enemies: those outside the Ark either will do anything to get in it, or will do anything to destroy it. Although the living skin of the terramyd naturally repels and destroys any organic intrusion, its inhabitants are still vulnerable to coalitions formed by the few remaining global power bases. However, the terramyd is also the only sustainable source of vblu, the so-called "fifth state" of matter that promises to provide the next stage in human evolution, if only Bob Jones' Trycor can work out how to make more.
This organic artificial intelligence, the myd, provides the inspiration, the means, and the economic bubble necessary for the development of a whole range of technological advances. Zammana may have been influenced by the internet and telecommunications bubble here - the title of the novel does recall to mind the phrase "the digital divide". Instrumental to the novel is Dr. Isaac's creation of Virtual Genetic Regression (VGR). This is the means by which Victor Jones is transported forward to 2084. Victor is the victim here of an obsessed scientist's vision, but it seems that he has been unwittingly provided with a great source of power in this depraved new world. The genetic regression has only been made possible by Dr. Isaac's development of a sophisticated interface with the myd. This interface is in the form of a ring, and Victor does seem to have a few Tolkien reactions to wearing it. Although he does not literally go invisible when wearing it, he does virtually do so, and in this world of artificial intelligence, that could almost be the same thing. There's no Gandalf to guide Victor on his hero's journey, instead, Victor seems guided by his own genetic inheritance and dreams of "a fiery machine" that have haunted his line and that of another over two centuries. However, like Frodo's jewellery, Victor's ring does seem to possess a will of its own, despite the general impression that the myd is inert and guided solely by man.
The Machiavellian heads of Trycor always seem to provoke resistance, and the same is true for Chairman Bob Jones' son, Viceroy. In his attempt to pull off a complex and sophisticated coup, it's Viceroy who turns to Dr. Isaac and VGR. However, he finds that instead of being genetically regressed to the body of Robert Jones in the three minutes that he's alone with Trycor's charter, Viceroy discovers that he possesses the body of Victor Jones instead, a predecessor of whom he knows nothing. Viceroy finds himself in the middle of a vast civil disturbance, unrest that seems provoked by the building of the terramyd. Allied with Terrell, a man with a destiny, Viceroy unwittingly finds himself at the very roots of the terramyd's development. Along the way, he discovers much that Robert Jones has later deleted from history... Viceroy and Victor fight their battles for liberty in parallel. Yet how can they fight against manifest destiny?
By producing a novel with such a vast scope, with events running over two centuries, Lytchcov Zammana, like Robert Jones, could be accused of being over ambitious. This novel is so complex that it does take several readings to really attempt to grip what it is all about, and so Zammana could be asking too much from most readers. Interstellar travel and cloning are two more themes of the novel that I have not really been able to touch upon here, and Virtual Genetic Regression could sustain a novel on its own. In such a crowded world though, characterisation can very much suffer. Julie and Jewel play a crucial role in the plot, but a longer book would have exploited them better - we are told that Victor really loves Julie, but we never really get to see it. Better editing may well have removed some of the typos towards the end of The Otherhood, and although Zammana reveals an extraordinary depth of imagination, some of the names of his characters and concepts seem too homegrown and could have been sexier. With such a complex plot, it would seem inevitable that Zammana would have trouble keeping up with it all, and there is one scene where Viceroy manages to run a considerable distance out of a cave complex whilst still apparently tied to a chair (p. 306-307). However, Zammana does display an extraordinary imagination. I did begin to appreciate the novel far more at the second reading, and more of the jigsaw pieces do fall into place if you read this novel with the patience and attention it deserves. If, like me, you enjoy fiction that challenges you and makes you work hard, then you will appreciate The Otherhood. Lytchcov Zammana's fertile imagination is certainly one to be watched, and there is much within The Otherhood to be explored further.
The problem was caring about any of his several casts of characters that he fit into two parallel, disconnected time frames. He picked a bunch of incredible losers to write about. The plot, the translocation of a character into the wrong resonant personality added to the confusion. Was this but conflict for the sake of conflict? A handful of characters had undeveloped or obscure motives-they didn't quite know who they were. The author also fell into the trap of writing melodrama -presenting strong, all bad guys pitted against weak, all good guys, resulting in an all too predictable dystopian ending.