Eyes of the Calculor
Tor, 2001 (2001)
Reviewed by Wesley Williamson
ean McMullen is one of Australia's leading science-fiction authors, and this is the third novel in his
Souls in the Great Machine
The Miocene Arrow
. The time is 2000 years in the future; the great Mirrorsun encircles the Earth, with its magical properties; fuelled engines of all kinds are anathema to the world's religions; the arrogant Librarians until recently used human slaves to power their calculating machines; intelligent cetezoids rule the seas and by the Call prevent humans from venturing near the ocean's coasts (only the Avians, a new human species, are exempt); and in North America a feudal society has developed, ruled by the Airlords using diesel powered planes.
airly recently, the human calculators have been replaced by machines driven by the electrical essence, but catastrophic change is initiated by the Mirrorsun. All electrical engines are destroyed, even those provided by the Mirrorsun itself. At the same time, the Call vanishes, and true humans are now free to populate the coastal regions, forcing the Avians who have been able to live there safely in Australia, to find a new home. Even more disturbing, astronomers discover that the Mirrorsun has grown sun sails and its rate of spin is accelerating. Soon it will be rotating so fast that it will break up, perhaps falling into the atmosphere with the potential to destroy all life on Earth.
he story centres on the Dragon Librarian Service of Rochester, forced to conscript every person capable of even simple calculation. To Rochester eventually come: Martyne, who has abandoned his monastery to avenge his raped and murdered sister; Velesti, his sister's beautiful friend, whose raped, beaten and terminally comatose body has been taken over by a deadly intelligence; and the American Princess Samondel who has brought her sail wing all the way across the ocean only to have it shot down by religious fanatics. Sean McMullen has built an exotic, well-imagined world with a wealth of strange developments. In some ways indeed, his world is too complex, and tends to overshadow the excellent and exciting basic story and interesting characters.
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