Thursday, May 1, 2014

Demon (The Gaea Trilogy #3) by John Varley


Title: Demon (The Gaea Trilogy #3)
Author: John Varley
Publisher: Berkley Books
Original Publication Date: 1984
Pages: 464

What if you could talk to god, and ask one thing? What would you ask of him or her?

John Varley played with this concept in this trilogy together with ideas of cultural variations, religion and psychological developments. It was exciting, novel and conspicuously distinctive from most science-fiction works of today.

The book was written in 1979, and in 1980, it was listed as the first official winner of the Locus Award in Science-Fiction. But considering that time frame, all the books in the series are an easy read and arguably a page turner. If I recall correctly, I labeled the books as currently reading months earlier but in actual time consumption, I finished all three in less than a week.

I liked how in Varley’s world building, he presented numerous interesting ideas on cultural development and religion. The idea of the self-sustaining alien environment is appealing and just like the mysteries carried in Rendezvous with Rama and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the idea of a more advance entity gracing us is riveting.

But what made me rate the books from the average three to a measly two is as conspicuous as the books’ appeal.

I did not like any of his characters. They were designed with weak foundations and even weaker developments. Simply put, they were not enthralling. In the later parts of the trilogy, I still failed to neither identify nor maintain a veritable connection with the crew.

The further reason is that Varley’s books can be abridged in two simple story arcs. The first is the discovery to the overthrow of the god and second the sex, yes you read that right, sex. Let me set this straight that outright, there is no fundamental issue between these two topics, the problem lies in the story itself. You see, when John Varley first presented Titan, the process of reproduction between the Aliens was nothing but interesting. I admit it was unique and well thought out. In the later parts of the trilogy however, when the process have been deconstructed and it has worn out its appeal and novelty,  the science and the beauty of the process was relegated to nothing but mere physical intercourse (including humans of course). So what happens is that the whole story is actually an intercourse (no pun intended) between these two pieces of the puzzle, something like this, sex-discovery-sex-plotting-sex-conspiring-sex-overthrow, so you see the problem, or is it a problem at all?

Would I recommend this trilogy? Perhaps not. I actually engaged in finishing the three books because I could not literally bear leaving something hanging, even if that means plodding through another two books.

As for me, if I could ask a god, I would, in his infinite capacity inquire, when George R.R. Martin would actually come around finishing his GoT series.
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