Book Review: The Giants Novels
James P Hogan may not be a name you are familiar with. I certainly wasn’t aware of him when I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. But, he is someone you should be aware of. His “The Giants” series of novels is superb science fiction. Before I get into the review itself, let me break the series down for you. There are 5 books total that have been written in the series. Book one “Inherit the Stars” was obviously written as a one off. But it proved to be hugely successful. And, I can see why. In spite of it’s almost hokey beginnings to book takes a die hard realist like me to places I never imagined going in a book… and more amazingly loving every second of it. So after being a huge success they went to book two, “The Gentle Giants of Ganymede.” The story continues! And it kept continuing for three more books after that. Each as good as the last.
So here’s the list of novels that exist in the series:
- Inherite the Stars
- The Gentle Giants of Ganymede
- Giant’s Star
- Mission to Minerva
Okay, so there’s five novels… I want to read them… but I can find only 1 of them on amazon. EEEK!
That’s because somewhere along the way the started consolidating the novels into compendiums. The first compendium consisted of the first three books as a single book. That’s the image I chose for the title. I bought one of these used on amazon for 5 bucks. It’s a great value.
However there’s new options. Now you can buy the first and second novel as a single book entitled “The Two Moons” , as well as the third and fourth novel as a single book entitled “The Two Worlds”.
The fifth novel is sold alone as “Mission to Minerva”.
Now that that confusion is out of the way, you can start reading this book… if you are still up for it.
I read the first 3 books in one shot. And truthfully you could end it there and be perfectly happy, but I was so in love with the series at that point that I just kept going. I am glad I did. The protagonist of the novels is a Dr. Vic Hunt. An Englishman whose professional expertise comes from physics… specifically the field of nucleonics. It’s the near future and the world has stabilized. War is now a thing of the past and the soviets and americans are working together to bring about world unity. Which I suppose dates the book. Even as the author progresses the story he retains this new altered timeline the book lives in. Which I suppose makes a sick sort of sense in keeping with future plot lines. Ultimately Hunt ends up involved with the UN’s Space Agency researching some “impossible” evidence of mankind’s existence on the moon tens of thousands of years before recorded history of mankind. From there, it just gets stranger. The plot takes Hunt to the backdrops of the moons of jupiter and earth in a quest to find an answer to an increasingly bizarre and undeniable facts that put our now commonly accepted view of the solar system right on its head.
Ultimately the author puts a great deal of time into explaining the science behind these impossible scenarios. It’s obvious that Mr. Hogan has more than a passing interest in physics. The result is a thrilling sci-fi themed detective/researcher novel. It’s incredibly fun to read and the plot twists are always exciting. I found myself wondering about the technologies mentioned and the societal implications of possible future breakthroughs throughout all of the books. At times I reveled in the achievements met by man already in this short span since his writing.
In fact in the fifth book a character chien describes an “advanced” research institute as being “a mix between advanced physics research and teaching laboratories, and a philosophical academy”. Apparently Vic is awestruck by the lack of a centralized coordinating body at the facility. I couldn’t help but see the parallels with our own little hacker space in some of the views of this sort of research structure. Vic ends up chalking it up as being impossible to duplicate in America. And yet, here I am today throwing NYC Resistor in his face.
If you like science fiction, or are a fan of star trek this book will knock your socks off. I loved it, and it was a bit outside my usual science fiction target zone. I went so far as to leave a copy at NYC Resistor for other members to read at their leisure.
So there’s another book review.
I respect Hogan's early fiction back when he seemed pretty sane. However, I had to stop reading his website because he's espousing views sympathetic to holocaust denial and AIDS conspiracy theory. There's some citations in his Wikipedia bio on this.
Let he who is without an irrational belief in something truly bizarre cast the first stone. ( In case you didn't get the joke, that means anyone with faith in a supreme being is right out )