|Astropolis 3: The Grand Conjunction
by Sean Williams
Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand
Reviewed By: Simon Litten
|The Grand Conjunction is the closing
book in the Astropolis trilogy, a space opera in the old heroic traditions.
Imre Bergamasc succeeds against the machinations of Imre Bergamasc (one is a back up copy of the other). The competing factions of the Barons and the Luminous are unmasked and overcome. But does Imre get the girl? Read on and find out.
The Grand Conjunction is the conclusion to the story begun two volumes ago. What it is not is a rousing conclusion. While I admired Sean Williams’ decision to restrict the speed of travel to under that of the speed of light, that one restriction meant the time span of the series stretched over a million years – but the world outside the story changed at a glacial pace; something I found less than credible.
That complaint aside The Grand Conjunction is a fitting end to
the Astropolis series. The fat lady has sung and the band has moved on. While I may be
damning with faint praise, this series was still an enjoyable romp through time and space
and I recommend it to anyone looking for action and daring do and spaceships.
There's only one word for Sean William's Astropolis series and that is Strange. Given that he's speculating deep in the realms of cosmology and the far future, that really isn't surprising. Modern cosmology IS strange, and as for the far future, it's unlikely to be even this recognisable. There are three important plot devices that Williams uses to connect his characters with his audience. Firstly there is the existence of Old-Timers, people who have lived in one form or another since our time. Then there is messing with Tempo, being able to change your perception of the passage of time. Lastly, there is no faster-than-light space travel. This is hard SF, folks, and you don't get to mess with the speed limit. You do get to approach it, and so you get time dilation. Williams turns this into a massive advantage, eating up the millennia as characters move from deep inside the Galaxy to its outskirts and back.
Things are starting to really come together, in this third book of the series. I wouldn't recommend reading this one without reading the other two first by the way. That would be way too confusing. However, at this point, it's becoming evident who the real heroes and villains of the piece actually are, and who's just plain nuts. It turns out that it's all about the fight to survive the End of the Universe as we know it. Me, I'll just say this is cutting edge hard SF and leave it at that.
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