on Aug. 5, 2018 :
The First Indigan
The name, Kaluza rings a bell with regard to Kaluza-Klein theory of an extra dimension. And this staple fare of space travel does make an appearance, or rather disappearance, before the end. This long drawn-out story is a reasonably constructed plot, provided you are willing to suspend disbelief. In particular, one must reject the possibility that mankind will be saved from imminent nuclear suicide, by the sudden emergence of a galactic power.
However, it helps that the author begins with what he knows and loves, a holiday white-water canoeing or Rapids riding. At the same time, family loss has made it also into his vale of tears.
The authors reflections, on the meaning of it all, are to recur in the company of new friends. Their meeting place and purpose are firmly in the realm of science fiction. He takes some trouble to characterise their society.
The space pioneers re-enact the British naval celebration of “Where’s the Beef?” While being a joyful occasion, their condition is somewhat like the long uncertain sea voyages of the old days, when victuals had to be inspected as fit to eat.
I think Walter Mondale, a Vice President contesting for the presidency, queried his opponents policies by asking: “Where’s the Beef?”
One would expect a space-faring mankind to make use of asteroids as ready-made bases. Tho, I couldn’t help thinking: But not like that!
The means of propulsion seem to hark back to the Orion project.
That old chestnut, nuclear fission, again fantasy powers a space-craft. And just as certainly, no mid-flight transition would take place, from nuclear fission to nuclear fusion.
If the construction of space-ships is not the authors strong point, the construction of the human body is much more in his line. Like a master ship refitter, he takes us thru the virtuoso surgeries of his imagination. And even this is only part of his service of care for the health of the community and crew.
Indeed the plot is based on a small sample of people chosen to be handmaids of extra-terrestrial evolution.
This is a worth-while change from the standard SF plot of mankind colonising the Galaxy. The story does end like a conventional soap opera. Mankind is caught between helpful and hostile aliens, which is a plausible scenario. But that is only the end, and even here, a serious under-lying point is being made, that it is questionable whether aggressive humanity is fit to colonise anything.
(review of free book)