Travel to the remotest reaches of deep space in this wondrous follow-up to the acclaimed Noumenon—a tale of exploration, adventure, science, and humanity with the sweep and intelligence of the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Neal Stephenson, and Octavia Butler.
Generations ago, Convoy Seven and I.C.C. left Earth on a mission that would take them far beyond the solar system. Launched by the Planet United Consortium, a global group formed to pursue cooperative Earth-wide interests in deep space, nine ships headed into the unknown to explore a distant star called LQ Pyx.
Eons later, the convoy has returned to LQ Pyx to begin work on the Web, the alien megastructure that covers the star. Is it a Dyson Sphere, designed to power a civilization as everyone believes—or something far more sinister?
Meanwhile, Planet United’s littlest convoy, long thought to be lost, reemerges in a different sector of deep space. What they discover holds the answers to unlocking the Web’s greater purpose.
Each convoy possesses a piece of the Web’s puzzle . . . but they may not be able to bring those pieces together and uncover the structure’s true nature before it’s too late.
The ambitious and effective sequel to Noumenon shifts gears from generation ship saga to space opera and follows two main threads. In the first, scientist Vanhi Kapoor heads a mission to research and test new forms of interdimensional star travel in near-Earth space until her convoy suffers a strange accident, which leaves Vanhi herself unusually unmoored from the laws of physics. In the second, in the far future, the crew of Convoy Seven, who spent the previous book investigating a strange characteristic of a distant star that turned out to be an incomplete alien megastructure, return to try to complete the megastructure and make it operational. Both threads wind up spanning thousands of years, generations of people, and experiences outside human understanding; they then connect to each other in a virtuoso piece of plotting that satisfies as a denouement while setting up entirely new mysteries. The massive scope of the ideas, and the more than geological amounts of time involved, mean that the human element is somewhat secondary to the full sweep of the saga, but this doesn't read as a weakness so much as a necessity. Lostetter remains at the forefront of innovation in hard science fiction.
A wonderful journey
I no longer read often... I find many back covers uninspiring. I don’t want to read the same story with different characters over and over and over.
The Noumenon books weave a wonderfully original story.
A. L. Author of “The Descendants.”
Excellent Epic SF
In the same way I love android and robot stories because they point at what it is to be human, I love the Noumenon series for showing the different facets of humanity.
This book takes a wider approach and expands out from one convoy to show another's journey. We still get to follow convoy seven and their quest to understand the alien megastructure, but we also find out what happened to convoy twelve. Convoy twelve was briefly mentioned a few times in Noumenon as having "disappeared" during some kind of experiment gone wrong. Except: surprise! They are alive and we get to find out where and when they go. Lostetter does a great job of making readers care about the fate of several characters at once and even though a section would end, I was excited to see what happened to the other convoy (sections flip back and forth between convoy seven and twelve throughout the book). Both convoys have an AI, C (an earlier version of ICC) and ICC--which works as one of the many "glues" that connect the two narratives.
There were a lot of thematic touches that I adored. For one, the concept of survival and evolution to ensure survival were repeated and by the end of the book some of those points were incredibly emotional and revealing for me as a reader. Noumenon Infinity opens ideas and "what ifs" that are presented as possibilities and the characters must decide how to react to those evolutions. I was shocked and horrified, but also--what makes something "unhuman" or "a threat to our way of life" is dependent on context. The sacrifice of some traits/traditions may be necessary for the greater good, depending on the goals of that society.
Anyway, those are just deeper philosophical threads, for the most part this book concentrates on the journey of several characters and added new favorites to my list for the series. I'm desperate to find out what happens to Vanhi on convoy twelve for example, and what both convoys will do now because of events that happen by the end...I wish I could say but this is a book that shouldn't be spoiled!