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Philip Jose Farmer

bookrev: A Dark and Hungry God Arises: The Gap into Power by Stephen R. Donaldson

Book 3 of The Gap Cycle

The classification of “space opera”can be interpreted in many ways:A Dark and Hungry God Arises

  • a soap opera in space;
  • large-scale adventures in space whose outcome is global (or space wide) in affect;
  • from Wiki, “a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities.”

The Gap Cycle fits all of these definitions, with book three, A Dark and Hungry God Arises, expanding the players, the scope and the level of impact of the possible outcomes.

The first two books focused on the triangle between flawed individuals Morn Hyland, Angus Thermopyle and Nick Sucorrso. This third book brings into focus political manipulations and intrigue in the power structures of Earth and space, through the characters of:

  • Warden Dios – leader of the United Mining Company Police, who is trying to make amends for his sins of following the evil Holt Fasner’s directions, turning the UMCP into a personal army for Fasner instead of the true police force it should be;
  • Min Donner – director under Warden, a true policewoman, who always follows orders but is beginning to have doubt about Dios;
  • Hashi Lebwohl – the director of the “Data Acquisition” group of the police, i.e., the spies; a man of no morals, where his goal is to simply find out everything in anyway that he can;
  • Holt Fasner – the most powerful man in the world and space, president of UMC; ancient, kept alive by rejuvenation drugs and techniques, playing a game of detente with the alien Aminion for profit or something else.

Thermopyle (who is now mostly cyborg) and Milos his former jailer are sent in a ship called Trumpet to Thanatos Minor, a major pirate colony on the alien Amnion border. Davis Hyland, Morn’s force-grown son is being held captive there; Morn has been given by Nick to the Amnion and they are plying their mutagens into her, unaware that she has stolen and taken some of Nick’s anti-mutagen (that he got from Hashi, the anti-mutagen that isn’t supposed to exist). Nick is trapped on Thanatos because Amnion warships are hovering, wanting him, Morn and Davies; Nick’s ship is damaged, as he got gap drive gear from the Amnion’s that got him close to light speed (which noone else can do) but damaged his ship.

Got all that? Like I said: space opera.

So Angus meets with his enemy Nick, goes to rescue Davies, also rescues Morn and eventually blows up Thanatos Minor….all due to his programming and enhanced cyborg functionality (which only Milos is aware of, but the Amnion’s capture him and give him some mutagen to turn him into one of them).

Nick’s ship is eventually rammed into one of the Amnion warships, allowing Trumpet with the entire cast (and some of Nick’s AWOL crew) on board.

This thus sets up the fourth book, with conflict on Earth as Warden tries to take down Holt Fasner, and with the triumverate plus others stuck on Trumpet..and Angus trying to figure out how to break free of his programming.

A fast moving series so far, on to book 4.

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