The Tides of God by Ted Reynolds

The Tides of God by Ted Reynolds (Italian edition)
The Tides of God by Ted Reynolds (Italian edition)

The novel “The Tides of God” by Ted Reynolds was published for the first time in 1989.

An expedition left from Earth on a starship obtained thanks to an agreement with the Kroceri, an alien species working with human beings. It was the Kroceri who warned the humans of the danger represented by an entity that is approaching the solar system and could have a negative influence on human minds, as it already happened in the past when it already got close, when some Earth’s peoples called it God.

The agreement with the Kroceri was precise: they provided a starship capable of interstellar traveling but humans must kill the entity. The crew members are ready to accomplish its mission to prevent a new dark age from striking the Earth because of the irrationality caused by the enemy in humans but when the starship starts getting close to it, its influence creeps into the minds of humans aboard.

Religion is a theme that has been addressed in science-fiction works in various ways and with very different approaches, in some works it’s the central theme and “The Tides of God” is one of these. This novel is set in the 33rd century, in a rational world that has overcome the big problems existing today and together with them humanity left behind religion, or so it believed.

In “The Tides of God” religious faith is the result of the close passage of an alien entity that influences the minds of humans making them irrational. That happened in the past but it could happen again and the solution is to destroy that entity eliminating its threat once and for all. However, despite the underlying theme, in the novel theology is almost absent and philosophy is limited. Burawa Foth, who among the characters can be considered the old wise man, offers some logical argument but it’s occasional and really incomplete to assess that theme.

What Ted Reynolds tells are the reactions of the crew when the starship getting close to the entity and the consequences of the irrationality that affects its members, which contrast with their normal behavior. Their society of rational people isn’t perfect but made huge progress compared to the Dark Ages and yet remains vulnerable because the human mind is vulnerable.

My main problem with “The Tides of God” is in a certain vagueness in the development of the plot despite a certain tendency to exposition. The novel is quite short by today’s standards so Ted Reynolds only provides generic information about the society of the 33rd century using Diametrice “Dia” Vish and her daughter Melitona to show how the concept of traditional family has become obsolete. All of that, including the characters, is functional to the story but without big revelations or insights.

In the initial part, Ted Reynolds offers a vague idea of ​​the mission, which consists in killing the entity known in the past as God but without details and introducing some members of the crew and some kids, who travel on the starship even if that’s a war mission. The characters are generally rather dull and seem useful to cover certain roles on the starship and to show the various ways in which the enemy can influence their minds, including that of a little girl like Melitona.

Ted Reynolds built the story as science fiction, creating a psychological explanation for religion in a space setting, but in the course of the novel the tones seemed to me quite horror. Given the underlying theme, the reaction is probably very subjective.

Overall, I tend to see the flaws of “The Tides of God” more than its merits because the impression it gave me is a novel that had an interesting potential that had a limited development. However, it offers some food for thought on rationality and faith, so if the theme attracts you, the novel could interest you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *