Life Form

Galactic empires, strange life forms and a stiff upper lip attitude, remove the alien nature and you almost have Kipling in space. The Mote in God’s Eye raises all sorts of questions regarding what that elusive first contact may mean, should the military be allowed to be in control, do scientists have enough of a grasp on reality to help make decisions about what is safe for the race and is Empire the most stable and enduring form of government.

Justifiably a classic this is an exciting read that races along, truly alien aliens, nothing about them is remotely recognizable, from their strange caste system to their fixation on the predetermined nature of their future. This is a book that pits the rampant breeding of the aliens against the Victorian morals of the Empire and the Empire appears to win. The book however ends with many questions left unanswered.

This was a bit of a nostalgia fest for me. I first read this book at my Nan’s house one warm English summer. Reading it took me back to that simpler time.

Reading Mote led to the grand daddy of all Galactic Empire stories, Asimov’s Foundation series, another series a little obsessed with predestination, this time the predictive nature of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory. In this case the Empire in question is in decline and humanity can only be saved by the Foundation created to preserve knowledge and fend off the dark ages ahead of humanity. There are no aliens or strange enemies, the enemy in this case is humanity and it’s willingness to attempt to destroy itself at the drop of a hat. Using religion and free trade and the guiding hand of Seldon the Foundation is to guard knowledge ready for the new beginning of galactic civilization.

I tried to read this as a teenager and was defeated by Asimov’s writing style which relies more on long conversations between his characters than action, this did not win over the adolescent me. I was more enamored at that time in my life with Asimov’s short stories, I took as much joy from reading his introductions as the stories being transported back to the Golden Age of science fiction. T he adult me however found this to be a great read, I now have to find the others although I apparently would do well to avoid the newer novels Asimov wrote.

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