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.
automatic assumption that only the malevolent, intelligent machines could achieve great works. Argo was an ancient human work, of course, but it was of the Arcology Era, used to fly between the Hunkered-Down colonies on the far-flung planets. And Argo had used many parts scavenged from mechs. These old human artifacts were different. Beautiful, he decided. Killeen sent,—Team Lambda has found same engraving in a wall. I want full spectro-copies of it.— Toby had the gear for that.—Yeasay,
the Bridge with eerie, shifting patterns. He was at the end of his tether, Toby saw, tired and confused. His heart went out to his father, caught in this huge engine of destruction, led here by hopes and legends, driven by fear. He let go of Besen and went to his father’s side. Hesitantly, as Killeen watched the vibrant flux, he reached out and clasped Toby’s arm. They stood that way for a long moment, watching now as the Myriapodia ships came into view. Against the seethe of sky and mass Toby
one side while Toby stood with the other arm around his father. There was nothing here for mere humans to do. Ahead, the hoop plunged down into the gray, rippling expanse. And cut. Like a knife, it sheared through the ashen surface and deep, deep into the interior. Released, the edges of the strange dusky surface pulled away. They curled away from the Cosmic Circle, peeling back. But the hoop paid a price. It crumpled along its leading edge. The resistance of the turbulence dented and deformed
too thick. Nearly everybody here, being older, was quite a bit taller. A Lieutenant saw him and Besen craning their necks, yanked them both by the collar, and set them back to work. There were enormous perspectives on the viewscreens, brimming with light, shrouded by the great cloaking dust. Beauty. Wonder. Awe. Vast spectacles that brought a trembling reverence to the human soul. Meanwhile, Toby bent over to mop up the scummy sewage. Rank. Smelly. Squishy. “Crap and cosmos,” he muttered.
presence. She controlled her rhythm and step so utterly that no extraneous finger gesture or eye twitch disturbed movement that was like the surface of a black lake, unrippled, but telling much. To Toby the actor seemed to pass through the air of the theater, clothed in a silence that could cut through a tornado. Then, later, the same scene occurred again. This time microphones amplified each sweep of silky feet across bare boards. A whispery music followed each move, transforming the event