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Old 04-15-2010, 12:40 PM   #1
leebase
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The Doors of the Universe - review

The third and final book of the series that started with "This Star Shall Abide" and followed up with "Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains" by Sylvia Engdahl.

The first book was one of my favorites from high school -- and I didn't read the second until this past week. The second, while equally as well written, was filled with so much despair that it was a hard book to take. It continued the theme of the search for truth and faith in a universe that could really care less about us. I dubbed it "Atheists need faith too". Mind you, only a book that was so well written could evoke such emotions of despair. You feel it because the main character feels it. To me, though, that's just an unpleasant state of mind.

"The Doors of the Universe" picks up where the second book leaves off -- and it's FANTASTIC. It was such a rush to read that I finished it in a couple days. I just couldn't put it down. The premise of the first two books is that humanity's sun went Nova and a remnant of people are stuck on a world without any metal or trees. Nothing to keep a modern society going. One can't even drink the water or eat anything that grows unaided in the soil because it's poisonous. So the technology that does exist is needed for man to survive, and yet it won't last forever. So the search is on to make metal by nuclear fusion. By the beginning of book two, Noren figures out that it is impossible to create metal. So now what? That's why he's filled with such despair. He KNOWS it can't be done and yet everyone looks to him to be the guy to figure it out.

In the third book, Ms. Engahl has come up with a solution that never occurred to her in the first two books. There is a path that can lead to humanity's salvation via genetic engineering.

The third book introduces a new character and love interest for Noren. I don't want to give anything away, but it sets up a wonderful plot line. There is despair in this book, but there's also hope. Noren goes through several iterations between the two.

Ms. Engdahl is one of those wonderful writers who has great insight into the human condition. You like the characters in the book, you relate to them. You exult with them and go into despair with them. She also has an interesting take on faith. This is faith as being vital -- without there actually being a god. That's certainly not faith as I see it, but it's a powerful telling of faith for those who can't believe in a god. Actually, I'd love to have a long talk with her on the topic. She seems to be a fascinating person -- just reading her books. Well, there is some minor nod to there being "something greater than us" thrown in towards the end. But I tell ya, these books are not about faith in a "higher power" -- but the struggle for faith when there is no higher power. That may not be her take on the books, but it's certainly mine.

These books are the "good stuff" of science fiction. The power of the author to create an alien environment for the purpose of highlighting the human condition. Highly recommended.

Lee

ps: read via Kindle app on iPad
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