Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Review: The Ouroboros Wave by Jyouji Hayashi
In fact, what Hayashi is most concerned with throughout these stories besides proving that happenstance is masked necessity is determining what is and is not intelligent. In another of the stories, a submarine is encapsulated in the mouth of a giant jellyfish-like creature in the icy oceans beneath the surface of Europa; this creature may or may not be the first signs of intelligent life outside of Earth. In another, an assassin must out-think a complex system of identification modules to make her target. Is Hayashi also asking the question: is intelligence formed from happenstance?
We haven't even discussed the surplus of cool sf ideas rampant throughout Ouroboros. For instance: Amphisbaena, the needle-like station in orbit around the artificial accretion disk that houses the scientists; the web system of data transfer; the AI Salmon; the different political structures between Earthborn and Spaceborn peoples; etc.
If there is one detriment to Hayashi's Wave, it's the prose. The prose is so dry at times it's like reading sandpaper. I don't know if Hayashi's voice is this dry in the original Japanese or if something was lost in Jim Hubbert's translation; either way, it can make for tedious reading. There is also a lot of "telling, not showing," in the text, which is one of my pet peeves. The redeeming quality (other than the wealth of ideas and an interesting backstory) is that because Ouroboros is hard sf - I mean, extreme hard sf - the reader can get easily lost in those large, scientific words, but Hayashi is a master of making big concepts (like exactly how an artificial accretion disk might harness the energy of a black hole) easily understood.
The Ouroboros Wave is worth the read; however, if you're not a deep lover of hard sf (and, typically, I am not) you're going to have to get through some pretty serious slog to enjoy the story.