Sunday, March 11, 2012
By Greg Bear
Traveling through space in a hollowed out asteroid on voyage lasting lifetimes, a scientist creates a tunnel, the Way, through time and space. Disgruntled with the voyage, a large group of people uses the Way to escape the asteroid to a new world, against the express wishes of the authorities.
Olmy, a soldier at somewhat loose ends is sent after the escapees. His mission is merely to observe and report back.
Time between the asteroid and the colonists is not the same, a few years have passed on the asteroid but decades have passed on the planet. So when Olmy arrives, the people have established several towns and appear to be surviving despite the challenges of coping with an alien planet. But all is not well with the colonists, factions have arisen and war is in the offing.
The planet has a strange biology, with whole continents dominated by one organism that expresses itself in a variety of different forms. The question is, are these giant creatures self-aware? And if so, what do they think to find their planet invaded by humans?
This was an OK, if a very long story. Olmy falls in with a group of researchers trying to understand the ecology of the planet. They, in turn, become involved in the conflict between the political factions. And one of the factions has done something very stupid that may make life on the planet impossible for humankind.