BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An episodic story of the above-ground Rebels who fight the underground Hive society.
PROS: Interesting ideas; quick-moving story.
CONS: One-dimensional characters; very dry writing style and lots of made-up verbiage made for slow reading;
BOTTOM LINE: I slipped into speed-reading mode just to get through it.
The Nebula award nominated The Godwhale is a sequel of Half Past Human, another Nebula nominated book. Half Past Human was a book I unfortunately could not bring myself to finish. The Godwhale fared a little better – I finished it, but there was a lot of speed-reading involved.
Set in the interesting Hive society of the previous book, The Godwhale revolves around a different set of characters.
Larry Dever suffers an unfortunate accident that removes him from his lower extremities. He is put into suspension until a suitable solution can be found for his predicament. He is later revived to preserve his archaically pure genes for the purposes of man’s colonization of space and is fitted with a sentient mannequin lower half. This is not and acceptable fate for Larry who longs for some real (and interactive) companionship, so he re-enters suspension only to emerge in the Hive society, a mannequin-less “hemihuman”.
Larry meets up with Big Har, a biological reject accidentally spared from death. Harlan escapes a repeat fate by becoming a Tweenwaller, living between the walls that form of the complacent underground Hive society. Together they long to escape the society that has rejected them and aim to emerge on the harsh surface of Earth. (As does the separate storyline of Drum, a Hive citizen facing a retirement in suspension or working in the sewers).
Meanwhile the cyborg harvester whale known as Rorqual Maru, whose purpose is to serve mankind, becomes washed ashore while mankind has evolved into the Hive society and moved underground. She (at least, I think it’s a she) finally sends her remote meck Trilobite to search for signs of life. Trilobite meets up with outside (and underwater) dwellers and, since it refers to the whale as deity, Rorqual Maru is offered to them as a God. Eventually, Rorqual Maru becomes controlled by the members of the Hive and must be reclaimed by the renegade band of Outsiders consisting of Trilobite, Larry, Big Har, Drum, and a renegade sex-machine clone of Larry Deever named ARNOLD.
Like Half Past Human, The Godwhale offers some great ideas but suffers from poor execution. The writing style is dry and many invented and undecipherable words are bandied about and it takes too much time to figure them out. Although the storyline moves quickly, the verbiage just slowed me down. One-dimensional characters didn’t help much either. And the scene involving Larry (I think he was Centaur Larry at the time) having sex with the slot machine was just silly. Eventually, I slipped into speed-reading mode just to get through it.