Wow, what a beast. The three books of the Destiny’s Children series were really something unique. All of them clocking in at around 500 pages, but due to the density of the content it felt like much more. The only thing that remains to be read is Resplendent, the obligatory and probably excellent collection to complement it.
I read a review about the book that complained about the implausibility of the near future scenario, which made me going WTF after reading it. How can you complain about something like that, when there’s the extremely outre idea of temporal finiteness and connectedness, which allows the Transcendence to change history by traveling as far as possible into the future to come out in the past again. Apart from the fact that the manipulation of the timeline and the whole concept of the Transcendence itself is described as vague as possible and feels more like magic than something that should turn up in SF, it makes you wonder why the Transcendence gets all up in a huffy about redemption but does nothing about the Xeelee.
Maybe you have to grow up with a Christian background to really feel the moral conflict that lies at the center of the whole book, the need for redemption, which I found completely grotesque. For me, the whole thing is a non-issue. So the Transcendence through its human origin had blood on its hands. So what, nobody’s perfect. Move on and create a better future, a finer world. That’s how you redeem the past. Instead, no, the Transcendence died off, which actually made it much worse, as the humans in the future could have needed someone who could talk to the Xeelee on the same level, who could have built a bridge to them.
The reason for the death of the Transcendence made as much sense as Padme dying from a broken heart in Return of the Sith. The plot called for it and nothing else. The constraint was always that humanity had to fall in a final conflict with the Xeelee, something that made sense in the context of the early Xeelee-series, as humanity had been described as waging a senseless war over eons. But since that war and that insanity had long been gone at the time of the Transcendence, the whole chronology of the Xeelee-series didn’t seem to make sense anymore. The only way how you could explain that was by letting the Transcendence die and by letting humanity relapse into their old Xeelee-hating pattern. Pretty stupid explanation, but at least the continuity of the series got preserved.
Now, all this might seem like I didn’t enjoy the book, which I did. But after the brilliant first two books in the series, I expected something more from this one, something that truly managed to transcend the whole chronology of the original series by reshaping to timeline to create a finer world. One were humanity and Xeelee managed to communicate. Instead we get an annoying search for redemption plot. Merely writing a good book didn’t cut it in this case, I wanted something better.