The novel “Entoverse” by James P. Hogan was published for the first time in 1991. It’s the fourth book of the Giants series and follows “Giants’ Star“.
The shutdown of JEVEX, the supercomputer that ran many activities of the human civilization on the planet Jevlen, seems to have left at least a part of the population in a practically hysterical state. The Thuriens ask the Earthlings for advice to try to understand how to best handle the situation. Victor Hunt once again collaborates with Ganymeans and Thuriens to understand why the Jevlenese society is on the verge of chaos.
A cult is becoming increasingly powerful in its universe but its leaders’ purpose is to gain a foothold on the planet Jevlen. Its followers’ souls must be transferred into Jevlenese bodies in order to act there and slowly take control of their society but to act in a universe that obeys precise physical laws and not magical rules isn’t easy.
James P. Hogan reprised his Giants series about a decade after writing “Giants’ Star” and “Entoverse” also reflects the changes occurred on a personal level. The series started as an example of archaeological science fiction, it also became a story of contacts with an alien civilization but already in the third book the conspiracy elements were among the plot’s foundations. “Entoverse” is focused almost exclusively on the conspiracy elements that had become part of the author’s life and in my opinion that’s also the root of its problems.
This new novel begins shortly after the end of the previous one, with the JEVEX supercomputer being switched off by the Thuriens, an act that has consequences on the Jevlenese society. In 1991 virtual reality was a topic already developed in several science fiction stories and James P. Hogan could have explored the problem of the people’s dependence on the virtual universes built by JEVEX. Instead, the whole issue is described superficially by the author, who focuses on Jevlen’s takeover plans.
The Thuriens, despite the millennia of close contacts with the Jevleneses, seem unable to understand the humans’ psychology and turn to the Earthlings to try to understand the reasons for the inhabitants of Jevlen’s increasing irrationality. The creation of aliens with a psychology different from the human’s is definitely the best result of James P. Hogan regarding the characters of the Giants series but in “Entoverse” it seems used more than anything else as an excuse to involve the Earthlings seen in previous novels and in particular Victor Hunt.
Character development was a weak point in the series from the beginning but was compensated at least in part by other elements, in particular by the mysteries about to the discoveries connected to the aliens. In “Entoverse”, however, the plot is focused on an intrigue that I found overall not very interesting because it was developed around the characters and as a result is weakened by the fact that they have little or no development.
The Giants series began with a novel that contained very little action and many dialogues but worked because it was based on the scientific research concerning an archaeological mystery. In “Entoverse” there’s more action but there are still many dialogues, which in my opinion this time do not work and generally become a burden to the novel.
Perhaps a fan of conspiracies can appreciate this type of story much more than me, but for me this fourth book marked a huge decline in quality. “Giants’ Star” had already left me with many doubts, “Entoverse” is much longer and focused on elements that had already seemed negative to me in the previous book.
A foreword briefly summarizes the events of the first three novels but to know them enough to understand well those of “Entoverse” you need to have read them. In my opinion, if you really liked “Giants’ Star” maybe you’ll like “Entoverse” as well, otherwise I think you better consider the Giants series concluded in the third book.