Giants’ Star by James P. Hogan

Giants' Star by James P. Hogan (Italian edition)
Giants’ Star by James P. Hogan (Italian edition)

The novel “Giants’ Star” by James P. Hogan was published for the first time in 1981. It’s the third book of the Giants series and follows “The Gentle Giants of Ganymede“.

After the departure of the starship Shapieron a series of signals is sent towards what has been called the Giants’ Star without many expectations. They just hope that the Ganymeans moved to that system and it will take many years before the electromagnetic signals will reach it.

Surprisingly, the answer comes just a few hours later and it seems to come from a Ganymean source. The Ganymean civilization has its center on a planet called Thurien but some surveillance system reamined in the solar system and intercepted signals that sere in an understandable code. The new contacts open the doors to new answers to the mysteries of human prehistory but some of them are more and more disturbing.

“Giants’ Star” picks up the story where “The Gentle Giants of Ganymede” ended. In the initial part of the third novel there are many references to the first two ones summarizing the previous events but it’s much better to read them all to understand the story and appreciate the research on the history of the Lunarians and Ganymeans.

The Giants series began as an archaeological science fiction story, so much that it becme a classic of this subgenre, but its sequel novels gradually shifted the focus on the present and on contacts with aliens. After the ancient Ganymeans lost in space and time it’s the turn of the Thuriens, the civilization that developed after abandoning the planet Minerva.

The contact between Earthlings and Thuriens marks the beginning of a very different phase of the Giants series. There are still a few references to human prehistory but the main aim is to define some existing consequences in what is now the near future.

The changes within the series reflect at least in part James P. Hogan’s personal ones. The author was an engineer and the beginning of the series you can see his technical and scientific background in a first novel based on solid scientific elements and rational reasoning. At a certain point of his life, Hogan started embracing pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories and this can already be seen in “Giants’ Star”.

The result is that this novel is developed based on what becomes an interstellar intrigue with strong consequences on Earth. The protagonists don’t have to try to reconstruct humanity’s history by analyzing artifacts found around the solar system anymore but they must try to solve mysteries of a different type with the future of humanity at stake. For this reason, “Giants’ Star” tends to have a more rapid pace than previous novels with a lot more action.

“Giants’ Star” still shows various typical elements of James P. Hogan. The author was considered almost an anarchist for the anti-authoritarian vision expressed in various stories, including this novel, where the danger is caused by leaders who use only scientists for negative purposes. In all three novels, scientific progress is seen in a positive way and goes hand in hand with the emergence of tendencies to pacifism that help to solve the world’s problems.

Considering the James P. Hogan’s personal changes, it’s even curious to see how he strongly supports sciences and shows negatively everything that is anti-scientific, including religion. It’s positive that in “Giants’ Star” the conspiracy factor is part of the plot so you can enjoy it from the literary point of view even if don’t believe that kind of stories when they’re passed off as real.

This novel is typical of James P. Hogan also regarding its flaws. The characters keep on being the weak point of the series: for example, the Jevlenese leader seemed too over the top, so much that he becomes a pantomime villain and I think this weakens the story.

In the end, “Giants’ Star” is a novel I found it a bit uneven for the different elements included and not completely successful. Overall, I found it still pretty good so if you read the previous ones in my opinion it’s worth reading this one as well.

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