Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Review: Frank Herbert & Bill Ranson – The Ascension Factor (1988)

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The Ascension Factor is my favorite book from the trilogy, maybe because is the first I read years ago. I was still fresh from entering the Dune universe and had proclaimed myself a Frank Herbert lover although I hadn’t read anything else beside the Dune series, so I was quite excited to delve into another, thick, book written by him.

As a stand alone piece this book works quite well, and the aquatic universe was a nice change after the sands from Dune, even if the pace and style is a little different. Compared to the events in the previous book from the trilogy the conditions and environment have changed. The seaweeds have been used to create the inexistent ground at the surface and now there are continents.

People living on them are still oppressed, the politic of starvation and food control being continued by the current leader. Ironically, this one is a clone of the original priest/psychologist from the Ship that has brought them there on Pandora, the same person who was brought back from cryogenic sleep in The Jesus Incident to teach people how to worship the Ship. He keeps things on a tight leash, his tyrant reign causes the people to revolt setting up a rebel move that fights against him. His current project is to design a spaceship similar to the original Ship and move the population to another planet in order to preserve it.

Meantime the seaweeds are kept under a certain control by the current control center placed on the orbit, and repeated bombing. The large vegetation mass that calls itself Avata is not as docile as it seems though. Scintillations appear in the seaweed population on and off in a sort of communication language and there’s a young woman who has been found in the water, presumably being a creation of the seaweeds, and kept prisoner by the ones in charge for several years. She has no recollection of the time spent in the seaweed environment and little connection with the world and outside people, while she shares the memories held by Avata and possesses a large amount of mental power that make ordinary people consider her a God-like. An entire religion is built around her.

In these circumstances a well-known journalist who is supporting the rebels goes underground along with the escaped woman to investigate the new ship that is being built and help the resistance. Separately they have no answers but together along with Avata they found what they need to prevent a catastrophe.

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Written for “Scrie ca sa primesti… o carte”

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