Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Far Shore of Time

By Frederik Pohl

Book 3 of the Eschaton Sequence

In the conclusion of the trilogy, Dan finds himself captive once again, but this time he is being held by the Horch, one of the few species that have been able to resist the Scarecrows, also known as the Beloved Leaders. His Horch captors subject him to rigorous interrogations similar to what he endured as a prisoner of the Scarecrows. But when he has been wrung dry of all he knows he is released back onto the prison planet where he had been held by the Scarecrows and put under the care of a small community of freed Docs, one of the Scarecrow enslaved races. Also on the planet is a group of freed Horch who have lived there as captives for generations. Dan develops a good relationship with one of these Horch, Beert, and it is through Beert that Dan, Beert, one of the Docs and another alien end up on a transit station located on the edge of the universe. The station has been liberated by the Horch and from the station Dan, the Doc & Beert are able to get transferred to a transit portal inside a Scarecrow submarine off the shores of New York.
Dan, the Doc, Beert and a couple of Horch robots are able to capture the sub. Dan then turns the sub over to the authorities but finds himself (and his alien allies) once again retained for interrogation. At least this time he isn't tortured. And the food is marginally better. He learns that Earth is aware of the threat posed by the Scarecrows who have promised to destroy the Earth if the people of Earth do not surrender. Dan tells them that the Scarecrows have the power to send an asteroid crashing into the Earth or that they could cause our sun to go nova. But he is reassured that the governments of Earth are on top of it and have taken steps to protect the Earth from asteroid strikes and that our sun is not the type that can go nova. But Dan completely forgets to inform them of the third weapon in the Scarecrows' arsenal: methane liberated from the ocean depths which will blanket the Earth in a cloud of poison gas.

This was a good, imaginative story. The Horch, who should be our allies against the Scarecrows, are pretty intimidating and implacable. It isn't until Dan meets the more backward Horch who have been held captive for such a long time on the prison planet that he is able to finally make a connection with a Horch. The Horch are not appealing to look at, but Pohl manages to make them interesting and somewhat sympathetic, especially the one who becomes Dan friend and who gives up everything to help Dan get back home.
I enjoyed this book a lot, it's a lively and fascinating story with lots of intriguing aliens.

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