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Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan
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Voyage from Yesteryear

by James P. Hogan

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I have sixteen Hogan books on my shelves. I've been rereading them years after having bought them to decide which to keep. I've read a dozen of those now, and this is the first one that makes me understand why Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke once praised Hogan as worthy to be counted in their company. Up to now the other books tended either to be too heavy-handed and preachy (especially Mirror Maze) or technobabble infodump (almost all, especially Thrice Upon a Time and Two Faces of Tomorrow), took too long to get going--and in the case of Cradle of Saturn too crackpot--that one was dedicated to Immanuel Velikovsky of Worlds in Collision infamy. According to the Wiki, late in life Hogan became attracted to a host of "fringe" views--one critic claimed he had encountered a "brain-eater." Generally, Hogan's earliest novels are considered his best. Realtime Interrupt was a close runner up, with interesting thoughts on AI and one of his most appealing protagonists, and I found Code of the Lifemaker, with its biomechanical "biosphere," a keeper--just brilliant in concept and with a sense of humor.

But so far, with just the four Giants novels to go, Voyage from Yesteryear is the prize. There were one or two dry passages dealing with the physics; Hogan is known as a master of hard science fiction for good reason. But this novel turns more on the psychological and sociological than hard science. It deals with the clash between the people of the Mayflower II from Earth, and earlier Earth colonists who settled on Chiron. The world of the Mayflower represents a neo-fascist dystopia. That of the world of Chiron an interesting utopia, in which, honest to God, I can hear echoes of More's book of that name. It's a classless society where the state has withered away--but that doesn't mean what you might think. At all. That's part of the mystery unraveled in this novel that made things interesting. How could this society work? And beyond that it tells a suspenseful action-adventure tale and has characters I cared about--which actually is unusual for Hogan. So, yes, this one earned its place on my shelves. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jun 3, 2013 |
Loved the book, the ideology, and the writing. I like Hogan. I would like to see a society such as the one described here, and certainly like to live in one. I also believe that it is a realistic future to hope for. ( )
  Traveller1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
The Voyage is at least two tales in one. The first is the science fiction story of man’s expansion into another solar system; the second is the confrontation between an anarchist or libertarian society and a strong central government.

In the science fiction story, a robotic ship carried frozen human sperm and eggs on the multiyear jump between systems. On arrival, the robots determined that there was a habitable planet, inseminated humans, then decanted and raised the first generation of pioneers. By the time this story commences, several generations have occupied the planet successfully, and have built a unique and mostly anarchic society. They even began to gain new scientific knowledge. When this was communicated to earth, efforts began to launch a huge, life-crewed ship to provide the colonists with a ‘proper’ governmental and military oversight. In fact two competing efforts: one by the ‘Western Alliance’ and one by competing Asians. The traditional Sci-Fi plot covers the actions involved in the defeat of this attempted take-over by the victorious colonists.

The second plot is also unveiled in those same actions, but involves the different assumptions between those two societies. In brief, the colonists assume: 1) a universe that contains unlimited resources, that the only thing needed is the knowledge and skills to access them; 2) that most people will use their best skills and knowledge in pursuit of personal goals that contribute to that end or the gaining of the respect of their peers. This is contrasted with the new expedition official view that a strong central government and military is needed to ‘defend’ against the coming Asian ship.

The story is of the conflict between those two societies. It makes a rip-roaring sci-fi or space yarn, and also allows Hogan to expose us to the benefits he sees in his Anarchic Society. If you accept the author’s view, the only disappointment is when you realize that our current civilization is his ‘Yesteryear’. A must read for both space story and minarchist fans. ( )
  ServusLibri | May 12, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James P. Hoganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Miller, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, PatrickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westermayr, TonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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