Review: Amagon — The Book of Man
“I highly recommend this novel as a creative and interesting piece of Science Fiction.” June 18, 2016
As a sci-fi fan of long standing, I look particularly for “enjoy-ability” as a quality in any such writings. “Amagon, The Book of Man” fulfills this most important requirement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and found it to contain some quite creative and interesting speculations about one potential future for the human race.
There is a postulation of the discovery of an immensely powerful future technology. The existence of this technology: the capacity to draw unlimited energy from the sub-quantum Ether, is key to the novel. However, this is not a novel about technology, it is an examination of how such a technology could influence the entire development and existence of the human race. In this future, all humans live in spherical orbital habitats which are biologically nearly self sustaining. Earth is a dead planet of only archaeological and historical interest. Humans in these micro-gravity environments have evolved somewhat. Legs and feet, now no longer needed for walking, have become more like useful limbs for grasping. The author calls this adaptation “Quadraman.”
The prime character in the is novel is one Es’paul Condo, a priest with grave doubts who finds himself elevated to the position of head of the “Church of the Habitats” by the sudden death of the previous Pontimax (obviously drawn from one title of the Pope — Pontifex Maximus). However, his struggle is not a specifically religious one, it is about maintaining Faith in the course of humanity: the confirmation of the “Rightness” of the social order and the position of each person within it. With this premise, this novel could have easily deteriorated into a simple moral tale, but it does not. Condo’s quest to delve into the truncated and mythologized history of the last ten millennia is adventurous and results in some astounding revelations about the individual who is universally regarded as the Father and primary “Saint” of all current humanity .
This man, William Proffit, lived on earth some ten thousand years ago. He has a unique place in human history, as he was both the independent developer of the source of energy which now powers the habitats, called “The Proffit Device”, and also the founder of the philosophy of social order which permits humanity to live in peace in the habitats and primarily focus on intellectual achievement. Proffit’s story is told in a series of flash-backs as the novel progresses. Part of Condo’s information appears to come from archaeological excavations of earth by remotely piloted probes, called Golem. Another source of historical truth emerges to complete Condo’s education in these matters, a source which turns his entire concept of the hierarchy of power in the habitats on its ear.
The completion of Condo’s education in the history of Proffit and the origin of the habitats places him in an inescapable moral quandary of enormous proportions. There is an astonishing climax to this story, involving ultimate personal sacrifice and courage.
Isaac Asimov rated sci-fi writing according to “Maturity”. In his view, which I share, the levels of maturity are: Adventure Dominate, Technology Dominate, and Sociology Dominate. “Amagon, The Book of Man” is most definitely, by Asimov’s analysis, a Mature piece of work. It’s primary focus is the beginnings of a dysfunctional collapse of the current social order; one that has evolved over ten millennia; and one man’s efforts to restore an order that he learns is crucial to the survival of the species. There is, of course, also adventure, mystery, and intrigue as the events of the novel unfold.
“Amagon” has some faults, to be sure. The book could use a good editing, as it suffers from repetition at times and has quite a few typos. At times the author has a tendency to narrate the story rather than letting the characters and action tell it.
All pluses and minuses considered, I would give this book a rating of 8.8 out of 10. I highly recommend this novel as a creative and interesting piece of Science Fiction.