DARWINIA by Robert Charles Wilson


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Alternate-historical apocalypse from the author of the fine time-travel adventure A Bridge of Years (1991), etc. In 1912, following a cosmic event known as the Miracle, Europe vanishes, replaced by Darwinia, a physiographically similar continent occupied by alien flora and fauna that somehow are biochemically compatible with those of Earth. The US, fueled by an upsurge in religious faith, declares Darwinia open to all colonists. By 1920, a few settlements have been carved out of the new wilderness; a scientific expedition under the American creationist Preston Finch will proceed up the Rhine and across the Alps, its progress recorded by Boston photographer Guilford Law, who leaves wife Caroline and daughter Lily behind in New London. Soon, attacked by bandits, menaced by the strange local wildlife, the expedition’s in serious trouble; the survivors report weird dreams. Guilford meets himself as he might have existed: a soldier killed in WWI. Eventually, having discovered a vast abandoned city, Guilford emerges from Darwinia to find that Caroline and Lily, thinking him dead, have run off to Australia. Guilford’s doppelgÑnger convinces him that he, and others like him, are troops in some incomprehensible struggle against other demon-ridden humans, such as spiritualist Elias Vale. Billions of years hence, you see, surviving intelligences have built the Archive in order to remember everything that ever happened; but the Archive has been invaded by —psions,— free- living bits of computer code (the demons that ride Vale and company). Guilford and his associates are avatars of the Archive, awaiting a showdown with the psions. A brilliantly imagined but hypercomplicated, undramatizable hodgepodge, whose incoherent narrative is all squirming ends and no graspable substance.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-86038-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998


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