McCormick (A Voice in the Thunder, 2012) delivers on the promise of the first book in his Children and Ghosts sci-fi quintet with this grand sequel.
With the city of Bellerophon destroyed in the previous novel, the Galactic Coalition has been plunged into civil war between government loyalists and those who support Gov. Warren. However, there’s far more at stake than who runs human civilization; a few people, such as criminal Christmas “Crazy-eyes” Parker, know that a godlike computer threatens the human race, and a few others, including Detective Vera Ford, aim to find out about it. But in a galaxy consumed by conflict, most people—including mercenary Regina Bell, former detective Ben Weizmann, industrial mogul Atusa Navarro and other survivors—are just trying to stay alive. Legion, an ancient computer built by a lost race, is setting events in motion to fulfill its own plans, but its creators also built a fail-safe computer called Ziz, which will stop at nothing to defeat Legion’s schemes. Meanwhile, seven children across the galaxy feel drawn to the planet Gadara, although none of them can say why—perhaps the race that built Legion isn’t quite as lost as some people think. McCormick delivers rough-and-ready action, devious political intrigue and emotionally charged back stories in a galaxy full of fantastic speculative elements and ideas. McCormick has an epic tale to tell, and the talent to tell it. Readers who haven’t read the first book, however, shouldn’t start with this installment, which spends very little time recapping past events. However, the author’s intelligent prose and fast-paced plotting make for another book that sci-fi fans shouldn’t miss; it’s satisfying on its own yet still makes readers feel that all they’ve read so far is merely prelude—and that the real conflict is just getting started.
A fine sequel in a sci-fi series that’s proving to be a must-read.