Fiction Reviews


Legacy

(1995) Greg Bear, Legend books £5.99, pbk, pp410. ISBN 0 09 935071 8

The story returns to the Way, the artificial universe turned inside out contained within the converted asteroid Thistledown. The Way allows the population of Thistledown to visit other planets, and so an extremist group illegally colonises the planet Lamarkia. Olmy, an agent of the Hexamon (law enforcement/defensive agency) is sent to deal with the problem.

As expected of the best-selling author Legacy is easy to read and explains something of the ‘story so far’. For fans of Mr Bear there are lots of in-yer-face hints that this book is probably the beginning of a series... This is where we hit the main stumbling block of books that are written with more than an eye to a follow-up; that of indifferent character development. For instance, I could not honestly tell you what Olmy is like or how he would react in a set circumstance. He does a few heroic things and reacts as a ‘good cop’ in any story would to a few situations but otherwise remains faceless.

Legacy is, at the end of the day a story of human impact on the environment. It is an attempt, and a worthy one, to show that humans have an affect on ecology and evolution. ‘Lamarkia’ is a planet where ‘evolution’ can change things at a startling rate and Greg Bear has created a believable ecology that most, knowledgeable of the Gaia hypothesis, would recognise. However, the science is a little inconsistent in places.

My final point about this book is unfortunately a gripe. Bear uses the common style of mixing chapters towards the end. You know, a chapter in present, chapter in future etc. This style can have some point, for instance in enhancing the effect of the denouement. Here it just blows the story line and gives the impression of being included as almost an afterthought to link into the next book. That said Legacy is a good light read but one to avoid if the above complaints annoy you as much as they annoy me.

Simon Geikie


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