Archive for June 11th, 2009

postheadericon The Ceres Solution, Granada, Paperback, ISBN 0-586-05652-1

The Ceres Solution was the first Bob Shaw novel I read, back when Bob Shaw was relatively new to me. I had bought A Better Mantrap to ‘try out’ the author and enjoyed it so much I went back to the SF bookshop in Edinburgh ( I remember their radio advert on Radio Forth giving their address on West Crosscauseway and finishing with ‘Where on Earth is that?’ Well, I found it funny) and hoovered up a few more books. The Ceres Solution was relatively new at that time.

One of the central characters in the book is Denny Hargate, wheelchair bound and embittered whose life is changed when he meets a beautiful woman in an out of the way place called Cotter’s Edge. The adventure starts when he sees her draw a complex pattern in the air with her hand and this makes her disappear instantly.

Shaw brings up some social attitudes within the novel. For instance, the woman, Gretana ty Iltha. is beautiful by Earth standards but very unattractive within her own society. A bold brushstroke of the old saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Assigned and persuaded to go to Earth, which fills her with dread, Gretana arrives on Earth and Shaw begins to reveal the plot slowly. The Moon plays a large and vital part in the story. Working on earth Gretana meets another agent and forms a friendship, against the rules. He, Kelth, informs Gretana and the reader about the influences of the Moon on people, and further develops the plot as well as laying down clues.

The conflict then escalates as it is revealed a radical group of Mollanians are on Earth and they disagree with the Star Trek like non interference policy of the establishment.

The plot slowly unfolds and we find that the Ceres Solution is a radical move by the ‘terrorists’ to free the Terrans from the influences of the Moon.

The novel slowly builds, with Shaw revealing details and clues throughout, until the climax where the Ceres Solution is delivered and mankind is changed forever.

The Ceres Solution is a good solid novel from Shaw, where he takes small things – such as the moon’s influence over us – and expands it into a wondrous and fantastic tale of human struggle. Human struggle against nature, politics, dogma. Shaw weaves the various elements together with flair. He builds characters we learn to like and empathise with – who’d have though anyone would root for a sarcastic wheelchair bound runt? The book ends of the story, a short intro at the beginning and a short piece at the end, highlight and enforce one of the main themes of the book; lifespan. The worlds presented and the ‘technology’ used for space travel are well reasoned and to an extent plausible.

Shaw developed and enhanced ‘ley lines’ and astrology in an inventive and imaginative way, one of the things I feel was a forte of his. The result is an enjoyable and entertaining novel. Fair seasons.