Furious Gulf (Galactic Center)
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Few writers have successful blended hard science and speculation with fully realized characters as Gregory Benford has in his critically acclaimed novels. Now he draws us into a vortex of mystery and danger at the heart of the galaxy in his dazzling epic drama, Furious Gulf.
Containing the remnants of humanity from the planet Snowglade, the spaceship Argo hurtles toward its uncertain destiny, the bold and brilliant Captain Killeen at its helm. But he has grown increasingly isolated and anguished in command. The ship’s gardens are failing, its voyagers face starvation, and there are dark whispers within, talk of mutiny. Killeen’s will, however, remains as strong as ever, his determination to reach the True Center of the galaxy bordering on obsession.
Amid a mad swirl of incandescent suns and ghostly blue clouds of galactic dust, beset by hostile worlds controlled by the mechs – a vast and violent artificial intelligence whose only meaning, only mission, is the complete extermination of the human race―Killeen pursues his desperate search, convinced his people’s one hope of survival lies in the True Center. The crew has followed him this far on faith, a faith now being tested to the limit. Even his own son Toby, groomed for leadership, is beginning to question his father’s command.
As the Argo undertakes a perilous quest into the unknown, Toby faces his own journey into the mysteries of adulthood. Like the others in this Family of voyagers, Toby’s spine contains microchip implants holding the memories – the legacy – of his race. But just as the technology designed to save his people may tear Toby himself apart, so his father’s desperate gamble to save the Argo may plunge the ship and its inhabitants into a cosmic pit of all-consuming fire.
In this extraordinary novel, part of an interconnected series of novels that began with In the Ocean of Night and continued in Across the Sea of Suns, Great Sky River, and Tides of Light, Gregory Benford explores the fundamental nature of human development and discovery. Across the gulf that stretches between fear and faith, past and future, we watch in wonder as an age-old question continues…the quest for the fulfillment of an individual, for the evolution of a species, for the immortality of the soul.
was always there and you would see it again, certainly for one last time, but there was no special haste in getting to that moment. After you had seen the gulf you spent the rest of your time knowing that it was there waiting and would come again. In knowing this he was now free. Below all the colossal energies of mechs and matter lay the whole long history of the human Hunker Down. Who had made that happen? Why had Bishops and all the rest of the Families been condemned to the hard-scrabble
out of the walls.— —A whole section smashed in here.— —All in vacuum. No air pressure.— —Burned-out living quarters. From the door heights I’d say they were short people.— —No signs of recent use, I’d say.— —Right. I just ran a sample on some burned furniture in an apartment. My Aspect says that the isotope dating makes this to be old—twenty thousand years, at least.— —Anybody find any records?— —No. Somebody sure scraped this place clean.— —I’m picking up traces of electrical activity.
Arcology was a reverential place for Bishops, worth a half-day detour from their target, a mech factory that housed usable foodstuffs. The colossal ruin had awed Toby. They had camped there overnight, even though Abraham grumbled about the danger of mech ambush. He had wandered the smashed streets, reading hints of former lives among the shadows. The Arcology had seemed to him a place of privacy, silence, space, and of memories forever lost. Memories of busy avenues and neighbors, of long
with its meaning superimposed. Killeen read passages, his voice booming. “‘Consumed the five kinds of living dead in still-glowing holy heat.’ There was a time when the mechs fell before us!” The Family stirred, eyes staring into a dusty past. “‘She shall rise as shall we all who plunge inward to the lair and library.’” Killeen stood on a raised platform, dominating the crowd. His voice became more powerful, not by trick of timing but from a fullness of conviction. “They went there. Long ago.
“But we still—” “We can follow the jet on out,” Killeen said amiably. “The blue clouds are condensing as they cool.” A man said angrily, “That don’t excuse the damn fool idea of comin’ here in the first place.” “We hold you accountable!” a woman called. “Yeasay—and what do we get out of all this, anyway?” “More trouble!” “More mechs!” “And we sure don’t need more of this Cap’n!” That was too much for the Trumps. Abruptly individual Aces and Fivers and Jacks shouted down the doubting