Archive for November 9th, 2013

Killeen’s got 99 problems, and planetfall’s just one: Cyborgs, mechs and humans (oh my!) plague humanity’s remnant in ‘Tides of Light’

November 9, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 9, 2013

At the beginning of Tides of Light, Gregory Benford’s 1989 science fiction novel, Family Bishop is experiencing a moment of relative calm. That does not mean, however, that danger isn’t lurking.

This book, which GoodReads identifies as the fourth in Benford’s six-volume Galactic Center saga, centers on Killeen, the leader (“cap’n”) of a band of not quite 200 humans. The group boasts an unusual blend of technical savvy and scientific ignorance. This combination has characterized humans for years since the collapse of their civilization, which long ago occupied technically advanced space-going Chandeliers.

Bishop is aboard the ancient starship Argo, which they’ve used to flee their ancestral home on the doomed planet Snowglade. The vessel is approaching its mysterious destination, a distant solar system with a habitable planet. However, Argo is being shadowed by a spacecraft controlled by the mechs — a robotic lifeform that is alternatively indifferent or inimical to humanity.

This element will turn out to be just about the least of Bishop’s problems. The world they hope to make their new home is occupied by a large Tribe of humans who are in the sway of an erratic leader. Even worse, a group of large, powerful insectoid cyborgs known as Cybers recently arrived in the system, which they hope to refashion into a sort of interstellar beacon.

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