Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The acclaimed author of Far-Seer and End of An Era embarks on a fantastic journey. A series of mysterious, artificial wormholes have brought the far reaches of space immediately close. But is the Earth ready for who--or what--the wormholes may bring?
I'm not normally a great fan of hard science fiction and that's exactly what this book is, but there's a really cool story in there too, intertwined with some pretty mind-boggling astrophysical space science stuff. These two elements combine into a really good story, and a relatively short book too. The story has our galaxy permeated with a vast array of artificial 'gateways' that link various points across the galaxy, and there is also two other known intelligent species. These species (including humans and dolphins) learn to use the gateways and go on to form the Commonwealth of Planets. A combined exploratory team aboard the massive vessel Starplex discover in deep space some huge beings principally composed of dark matter and through communicating and helping them, learn some startling facts about the cosmos and it's origin. The story line is well thought out and enjoyable and it all comes together at the end of the story in a really satisfying way.
There was a couple of things that I didn't like about it, chiefly the dolphins. I don't know, but to me the concept of intelligent dolphins piloting space ships from inside water tanks is silly. People claim that dolphins could be as intelligent as humans, but I remain to be convinced. Is that arrogant? Maybe it is. Anyway, this is relatively minor but the main reason I didn't award it the last star. On the positive side, there is some nice descriptive action scenes, almost space-opera in scale.
Overall this is a good book that I really enjoyed. If you like deep space adventures, unusual alien species and numerous mind-bending cosmic concepts, then you'll totally love this.
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