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Sunday, August 3, 2014

What I’m Reading: Destination Void


I like the works of author, Frank Herbert.  I really do (heck, I named my son after one of Herbert's books).  The worlds he created for his books were rich and lively. His ideas were brilliant.  And his science fiction was as heavy on the science as it was the fiction. 

But Destination: Void was not one of Herbert’s better works. 

Don’t get me wrong.  It has a terrific premise – the crew of a spacecraft must develop (and quickly) an artificial intelligence that can help bring their ship, and its three thousand cryogenically sleeping passengers, safely to a planet in the Tau Ceti solar system.  And it has lengthy discussions on the meaning and nature of consciousness and what it means to think, what it is to be… It’s Ontology among the stars.

And it has one of the greatest endings, and just about the best final line I’ve ever read …

…but it’s a lot of work to get there.  Even though it’s a short book, only 190 pages, it feels much longer.  Mostly because there’s no action.  Nothing – happens- in the book (or very little, really, and it's all right at the beginning or right at the end).  Destination:Void is filled with a lot of talk and discussion, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but… (and I hate to say this. I really do) it’s drudgery to read.

Still, Destination: Void is the initial book in a series that includes three more titles – The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor, and they are much better.  (I mean, come on, how could I, as a pastor, not be inclined to such titles?) 

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