Whipping Star by Frank Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In today's SF market, I doubt we'd EVER see a novel like this get published.
After all, it's highly abstract, deals with n-space topologies and a macro-inversion of String Theory as tied to consciousness, and it happens to be a really neat IDEA. The blurb may be accurate, but it doesn't do the intelligence of the novel ANY justice.
Here's the thing: we're meant to be floundering in the water like the main human characters trying to make SENSE of the things this truly alien alien is saying. The fact that it may or may not be a 4th-dimensional creature (in the way that Arrival was) is hard to suss out because of the highly abstract but very logical word salads.
Add to that a completely misunderstood agreement that allows for instant portals, time-travel, and a really nasty side-effect of killing the alien, slowly, nastily, and we've got a novel that OUGHT to be more respected and read. It has a lot of fantastic ideas and the mystery fully engaged me to the hilt.
If I had read this not knowing it was Frank Herbert or that it had been written a while ago, I would have assumed I was reading a contemporary of Greg Egan or a companion to Peter Watts' Blindsight. These have a lot in common. If I had said he was a newcomer, I would have said, "Hey! This is like Robert Silverburg at his best!"
The fact is, this novel may be forgotten because so much attention is put on Dune. Whipping Star doesn't pretend to be anything but what it is: a very intelligent novel about language, understanding, and N-Space physics with a side dish of quantum.
I recommend it for anyone who despairs that SF is getting too stupid. :)
View all my reviews