More Things in Heaven

by John Brunner
Reviewed date: 2007 Aug 12
Rating: 3
221 pages
cover art
cover art

The Starventure is Earth's first hyperdrive spaceship. When Starventure returns from her maiden voyage to Alpha Centauri, impossible things start happening. Colossal ethereal monsters appear suddenly in the skies, and vanish into nothingness just as rapidly. Violent solar radiation storms hit the Earth, despite the sun being in the low part of its cycle. And the UN is withholding all information about Starventure and her crew.

Reporter David Drummond, whose brother is on Starventure, experiences a more personal surprise: before the Starventure crew returns to Earth, David sees his brother Leon on Earth. David investigates relentlessly, and finally convinces General Suvorov to tell him the whole story. Starventure has returned, but the crew has been transformed into hideous monsters. Some unknown, possibly malevolent force, has converted the crew and given them new bodies--and the crew's bodies are on Earth, being used as vessels for these unknown powers. Faced with beings of such power, David feels helpless:

Suppose an ant, immensely proud of her race's vast public works, mastery of building techniques, and the art of farming and domesticating other insects, were suddenly to become aware of the existence of man: she would feel very much as I felt now.

David agrees to hide the truth, and to feed the public a cover story. And that is the weakest part of the book. There is no compelling reason to deceive the public. The public's reaction to the sky-monsters proves they will not panic. No good reporter would agree to play part in a vast conspiracy to deceive the public for no good reason--particularly when so many people are privy to the secret that the truth will leak out within weeks if not days.

The real mystery of More Things in Heaven is: who or what changed the crew, and why? The answer is interesting enough. Earth's universe--the Einsteinian universe--is a special case of the real universe, the hyperspace universe. Humanity has been condemned to its bubble of Einsteinian reality because of some crime it committed, eons ago. The crime is long forgotten by mankind; the hyperspace creatures are watching mankind, to see whether it will choose to emerge from exile and join the greater universe.

It's a satisfactory answer, and I almost gave the book a score of four. However, the flaws--particularly the deception of the public--ring untrue. More Things in Heaven scores a three.

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