BooksOfTheMoon

The Godel Operation

By James L. Cambias

Rating: 4 stars

Another discovery from Scalzi’s Whatever, I thoroughly enjoyed this far-future space opera about a droid and his boy, as they gallivant around a solar system turned into a Dyson Swarm and filled with trillions of inhabitants, both meat and machine.

Zee is an inhabitant of a habitat in Uranus orbit who makes friends with Daslakh, a mech fellow inhabitant who is much older than it seems. (Aside: in Hindi, “daas lakh” means ten hundred thousand, aka one million. I wonder if that’s deliberate or just a coincidence?) Through a series of improbable events, Zee ends up chasing after, and then finding, an imaginary former lover, and then on the trail of, a legendary ancient weapon that could change the face of the solar system.

I loved the setting here, which Cambias calls The Billion Worlds, with uplifted animals, humans, cyborgs and frighteningly powerful AIs, all coexisting (relatively) peacefully. It’s a more or less post-scarcity society, with energy being the system-wide currency. I really liked Daslakh, who is the first person narrator of the story. It makes it clear early on that it’s an unreliable narrator but also takes the mickey out of itself by repeatedly claiming to be “old and cunning” and then doing something simple and obvious.

The flashbacks showing us the cat and mouse escapades of two rival AIs who were on opposite sides of a war in ancient System history span thousands of years, as they repeatedly try to out-manoeuvre each other, and you can see them changing over the millennia, as the story slowly ties together with the present. I especially liked the glimpse of the faded magnificence of Kasaleth habitat, and would love a story set there in its glory days. You could tell a really cool Agatha Christie-style murder mystery there.

This was a really fun story, with a setting that’s huge with lots of space for more stories. And, indeed, the author has said that he intends to write more in the setting. I look forward to reading them.

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