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When The Blue Shift Comes (Stellar Guild) Paperback – May 4, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Having set up this premise, Silverberg admits that he had no idea what to do with it. His half of the novella is relatively plotless. This was also written at the time when Silverberg's style was at its most arch and postmodern; the story is full of authorial asides to the reader which get in the way of what little plot there is.
Just when I was getting bored with this book, Silverberg's protege, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, rides in to the rescue. He emulates Silverberg's style perfectly (meta-fictional asides and all), but gives Silverberg's characters something to do, finds a plot where Silverberg couldn't, and completes the story in fine form.
We are in the unimaginably distant future, and humans have colonized the galaxies and acquired the ability to assume any physical shape at will. Life extension through rebirths has given everyone near-immortal lifespans.
But there is a flaw in the universe: a wholly anomalous hypersingularity has begun to devour the universe at an accelerating rate. At first, the phenomenon appears distant and unthreatening; but when it begins to accelerate and astronomers start to notice stars blueshifting towards it, it becomes quickly clear that the hypersingularity not only threatens all worlds, but that it may already be too late to do anything about it.
Hanosz Prime, the all-powerful ruler of the world of Prime in Andromeda's Parasol system is plagued by disturbing, apocalyptic dreams. Close to the end of his current body and facing yet another tiresome rebirth, Hanosz is visited by a mysterious traveler who piques his interest about Earth, the only world where humans enjoy true immortality.
As the hypersingularity starts to devour space, it becomes clear that Hanosz (whose life becomes even more complicated when he meets the beautiful Kaivilda and her mad father, Sinon Kreidge) may be the only one capable of saving the universe--or is he? Even Earth's ancient and mysterious Oracles cannot tell.
The Stellar Guild series, of which this book is part, is edited by SF superstar Mike Resnick, and each volume teams up an established, big-name author with an emerging author of their choice in back-to-back novellas. Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (author of the second, concluding novella) does a fantastic job of matching and resolving Silverberg's initial piece in style and tone, and shows himself fully in control of the wild plot elements which Silverberg has thrown out there in the first novella.
The extraordinary thing about these paired novellas--which between them form a complete story--is the narrative voice. Exuberant, bardic, improbable, tongue-in-cheek, filled with narrative asides and hilarious digressions, it brings faint echoes of Douglas Adams, Spinrad, Zelazny, and even Vonnegut at their wildest, and yet is wholly original; there are similarities to Fred Pohl's "Day Million", but without the latter's urgent, harsh edge (some readers might even invoke Farmer/Trout's infamous "Venus on the Half-Shell"); there is worldbuilding to make your head spin; there is hard science; and there is, at the heart of it all, a very Silverbergian love story.
This isn't a book for everyone. If you don't enjoy storytelling and just want sober, formulaic dialogue and plot, you're probably not going to get it. But if you know and enjoy the authors mentioned above; if you know what Stapledonian excess is; and if, above all, you love classic SF...don't miss this one.
One final note: for maximum enjoyment, I strongly recommend skipping Robert Silverberg's notes linking--and interrupting--the two novellas until you've finished the book (I considered dropping one star for this, but that would have been unfair to the story and the authors). The publisher would should really have put these notes at the end for a seamless read of this wholly enjoyable work.
Rather than write a new novella, Silverberg chose to dust off a book he had started in 1987 on which he had stalled and never been able to finish. Talk about handing your protege a tough act to follow! Silverberg states in a foreward that he feels that Zinos-Amaro succeeded. I would definitely agree.
This book has the same impishness and absurdism as "Hitchhiker", but with rather more science.
A thought-challenging read, this book makes a nice change-of-pace from space operas and epic fantasy novels.
Zinos-Amaro clearly has a vivid imagination for plotting and imagery. I look forward to reading more of his works where he gets to do the whole thing himself.