A dazzlingly imaginative science-fiction trilogy, spanning the rise and fall of religions, civilizations and the human race itself, deflates into an oddly pedestrian conclusion.
Tucker Feye and Lia are finally reunited after ping-ponging through time and space; now, the focus shifts to Tucker’s uncle Kosh and mother, Emily. The storyline alternates between 1997, when the two first met, and 2012, as Kosh frantically tries to rescue Emily’s look-alike, “Emma,” from the remnants of a fanatical cult. Interspersed are snippets describing the Boggsian invention of the diskos, the factions among the transhuman Klaatu, and Tucker and Lia’s efforts to return to the present. Hautman builds any number of rich, intriguing settings: small rural towns, post-apocalyptic jungles and even the surface of another planet. Unfortunately, he piles fascinating details upon thought-provoking concepts at such a frenetic pace that the whole structure collapses. Most characters die at least once, but recurrent medical miracles drain away any suspense. Nearly everyone is rewarded at the end with (somewhat-creepy) bland domesticity, and with every plot loop tidily snipped off, the entire grand narrative edifice is reduced to the recursive repercussions of a teenage love triangle.
Stories aren’t required to provide answers to the big questions they raise about faith, choice, identity and responsibility, but these deserve better than to be dismissed with an uncaring shrug. (Science fiction. 12-18)