|The Chronocide Mission
by Lloyd Biggle Jr.
Copyright ©2002 by Lloyd Biggle, Jr
Available for download at Fictionwise
A student at an Ohio college is inadvertently snatched from the present by a scientist in the far future. Society has degenerated into quasi-feudal states consisting of aristocrats with two names, artisans and merchants with one name and a massive labour force of no-name humans whose brains have been burned out by a device known as the Honsun Len. The student is given the name of Egarn and due to both his twenty-first century scientific knowledge and his will to live. In time he succeeds the scientist who brought him to the future as chief underling of the realm's Lant, or monarch. And as her lover for a time. In this future all the paramount leaders of note are women, but female leadership has not produced the kinder, gentler world some envision were woman in charge. Quite the opposite--these women tend to be despots.
The only science that has survived is optics. (Len is the word for "lens" in Biggle's future world.) Egarn doesn't understand how the lens works, but does develop another optical device which greatly resembles a laser. With this device in hand the monarch of Egarn's realm sets out to conquer the world. She's well on her way to doing so when Egarn decides he made a serious mistake in trusting her and, in his old age, sets out to thwart her malefic plans.
Egarn falls in with Arne, first server (head of the civil service) of another state. Although Arne is young, his natural ability to make matters run smoothly is recognized by all. His monarch relies on him absolutely. While the monarch is a benevolent type, the Prince (female) is not. Unfortunately, the monarch is unwell. Without giving too much away, it can be told that Arne and the Prince fall in love, each in their own fashion, but ultimately fall out with each other when the gap between aristocrat and retainer proves too wide to bridge.
As can be gathered, The Chronocide Mission is a complicated work of wonderfully interwoven plots and ideas. Although Biggle never gained the status of some others in science fiction, as a writer he is second to none. The action keeps coming, with enough mayhem and romance to suit most readers, and eventually winds up at a surprising but satisfyingly logical conclusion.
To show we are in a different world and time Biggle alters some words ("len" for "lens", "dae" for "day", "Honsun" for... well, never mind--that would be giving too much away.) These altered words are both annoying and unnecessary. Biggle does a sufficiently good job of showing his future world to not need a cheap trick of this nature.
The Chronocide Mission is a first-rate read from a master of his genre. Anyone who remembers Biggle will be delighted by this novel and anyone who doesn't remember him, will do so after they read this work.
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