The Omega Expedition [NOOK Book]

Overview

The sixth volume of Brian Stableford's future history concludes the series and also refers back to its beginnings. Through five earlier volumes, Inherit the Earth, Architects of Emortality, The Fountains of Youth, The Cassandra Complex, and Dark Ararat, Stableford has mapped out for us in engaging stories the wonderful and sometimes disturbing world of the next thousand years, on Earth, throughout the solar system, and to worlds beyond, with emphasis on huge sociological changes and extraordinary alterations in ...

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The Omega Expedition

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Overview

The sixth volume of Brian Stableford's future history concludes the series and also refers back to its beginnings. Through five earlier volumes, Inherit the Earth, Architects of Emortality, The Fountains of Youth, The Cassandra Complex, and Dark Ararat, Stableford has mapped out for us in engaging stories the wonderful and sometimes disturbing world of the next thousand years, on Earth, throughout the solar system, and to worlds beyond, with emphasis on huge sociological changes and extraordinary alterations in the biological life of humans. It is one of the most detailed and plausible and fascinating projections in all of science fiction. Now, in The Omega Expedition, it takes us into another millennium, and is complete.

The Omega Expedition is a philosophical novel, a sequel to The Fountains of Youth. It is the extraordinary life history of Adam Zimmerman, developer of the technology of emortality. The main part of the narrative describes his long-delayed awakening into the 35th century, a time of true immortals. His exotic hosts--inhabitants of a microworld in the outer solar system--have recruited various interested parties to help with the resurrection project, one of whom (inevitably) is the famous historian of death, the immortal Mortimer Gray, who is exceedingly anxious to gain what insight he can into the vagaries of the mortal mind.

The Omega Expedition is a richly textured, serious SF novel that will resound like a huge bell, ringing down the halls of science fiction for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this cerebral novel, the capstone to British author Stableford's (Inherit the Earth, etc.) much praised six-volume future history concerning the search for "emortality" (technologically assisted near-immortality), Madoc Tamlin, a 22nd-century shyster with a heart of gold, is defrosted after more than 1,000 years in suspended animation, only to discover that his awakening has been nothing more than a trial run for a more important revival. The posthuman emortals of the 35th century are preparing to bring back Adam Zimmerman, aka the Man Who Stole the World. Zimmerman, whose takeover of Earth actually saved the planet from environmental collapse in the 21st century, is the near-mythic founder of the movement that led to the emortal, posthuman culture that now inhabits our solar system. As Tamlin learns more about the society into which he has newly awakened, he discovers that it contains a number of rival factions, each of which espouses a different sort of emortality. Stableford does a fine job of pulling together an enormous number of loose threads. If his characters are sometimes flat, his presentation of the possible marvels of posthumanity is quite compelling, as is his thoughtful examination of the potential involved in near immortality. Readers who stick with this complex, intellectually challenging series to the end will find their tenacity well rewarded. (Dec. 19) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
In this conclusion to the Emortality series and following Dark Ararat, this futuristic story focuses on two characters who have been cryogenically preserved. One is Adam Zimmerman, a powerful man who set out to defeat death by becoming immortal, and the other is Madoc Tamlin, a criminal awakened before Adam in order to test the awakening procedures. Tamlin finds himself in a world of rival factions, each with their own ideas as to the true nature of emortality, while Adam Zimmerman, the founder of emortality, seems almost a god to these futuristic beings. The story takes second place to philosophy in this thought-provoking novel, which provides many ideas to ponder relating to identity, obsession, and death. Adam Zimmerman's mortal situation and its change from beginning to end is quite ironic as he examines death from varying perspectives. The book reads more like a philosophical treatise at times than a novel. Stableford masterfully intertwines the Tam Lin fairy tale into his technological world as Madoc discusses philosophical issues with the "Fairy Queen." An impressive series conclusion providing many seeds for discussion, this novel is recommended for readers preferring complex plot twists and intellectually challenging science fiction. To help new readers, Stableford introduces the novel with a summary of events from the preceding novels in the series. As a result, the book can stand alone, although readers of the series will be most rewarded by the culmination of events. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Tor, 544p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Ginger Armstrong
Kirkus Reviews
Fifth and last in the series about the quest for human immortality-or, as Stableford pedantically insists, "emortality." In the 21st century, Adam Zimmerman, determined to cheat death, organized the financial coup that turned ownership of planet Earth over to the Secret Masters of the World. He used his profited billions to set up a foundation for emortality research-and then had himself cryogenically preserved before death. Madoc Tamlin, a 22nd-century fixer for a wannabe Secret Master, wakes in the 33rd century. Never sure that what he perceives is real and not some sophisticated VR, Tamlin asks his awakener, an asexual juvenile-appearing female posthuman named Davida Berenike Columella, why he was frozen and forgotten for a millennium. Equally puzzling, Davida has also awoken Christine Caine, a mass murderer from Tamlin's era condemned to cryogenic suspension. Davida maintains that both were woken as test cases prior to the revivification of Adam Zimmerman himself. Tamlin rejects this explanation and wonders what's really going on. It seems that war threatens to engulf the solar system, involving not only the various and extremely diverse posthuman factions but the self-aware ultrasmart machines as well. But what reason can machines have for fighting, and what do they want with Zimmerman and emortal historian Mortimer Gray? What of the Afterlife, voracious virus-like entities that threaten machines and posthumans alike? Fascinating ideas and developments, though Stableford's heavy-handed, exposition-clogged approach often slows the narrative to a crawl: not the best of the series (that was Dark Ararat, p. 80), but a worthwhile wrap nonetheless.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429981088
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Series: Emortality, #6
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Brian Stableford lives in Reading, England.

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Read an Excerpt


PART ONE

ONE


This is the way it must have happened.
In September 1983, shortly after returning from his honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, Adam Zimmerman began to read Sein und Zeit by Martin Heidegger. He had decided to improve his German, and he did not want to practice by reading novels in that language because he considered all fiction to be a waste of time. He wanted to read something that was serious, difficult, and important, so that he would obtain the maximum reward for the effort he put in.
That was the kind of man he was, in those days. He could not have regarded himself, at the age of twenty-five years and four months, as a complete man, but he had put away all childish things with stern determination. He hated to let time go to waste, and he required full recompense from every passing moment.
It is tempting to wonder whether the history of the next thousand years might have been somewhat different if Adam had chosen to read, for example, Friedrich Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra or Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, but there was no danger of that. Both those books had been published in the nineteenth century, and Adam was very much a twentieth-century man. We, of course, have grown used to thinking of him as the twentieth century man, but while he was actually living in that era he was far from typical. He must have been considerably more earnest than the average, although he would probably have gone no further on his own behalf than to judge himself "serious."
Although he was a native of New York in the United States of America, Adam had always been conscious of his European ancestry. He was the grandson of Austrian Jews who had fled Vienna in 1933, when his father Sigmund was still a babe in arms. Sigmund Zimmerman's only sibling--a sister--was born in New York, and he had not a single cousin in the world to lose, but the war of 1939-45 contrived nevertheless to inscribe a deep scar upon his soul. Sigmund frequently declared himself to be a "child of the Holocaust," and sometimes applied the same description to his own son, even though Adam was not born until 13 February 1958.
Neither Sigmund nor Adam ever visited Israel, but Sigmund certainly considered himself a Zionist fellow traveler, and that conviction could not help but color the idealistic spectrum of Adam's adolescent rebellion against the ideas and ideals of his parents. Although that rebellious phase was in the past by the time of his marriage to Sylvia Ruskin (a gentile), its legacy must have played some small part in Adam's decision to try to perfect his German with the aid of a philosopher of whom his father would definitely not have approved.
Perhaps that same awareness assisted, if it did not actually provoke, Adam's powerful reaction to Heidegger's argument. On the other hand, it might have been the fact that he set out to wrestle with the text purely as an exercise in linguistics that left him psychologically naked to its deeper implications. Then again, it does not seem to have been at all unusual for males of his era and cultural background to hold themselves sternly aloof from schmaltz while being extravagantly self-indulgent in the matter of angst.
For whatever reason, Adam was ready-made for the strange sanctification of self-pity that was the primitive existentialist's red badge of courage. While he read Heidegger, a couple of chapters at a time, on those nights when he elected not to claim his conjugal rights, Adam felt that he was gradually bringing to consciousness precious items of knowledge that had always lain within him, covert and unapprehended. He did not need to be persuaded that angst is the fundamental mood of mortal existence, because that knowledge had always nested in his soul, waiting only to be recognised and greeted with all due deference.
Heidegger explained to Adam that human awareness of inevitable death, though unfathomably awful, was normally repressed to a subliminal level in order that the threat of nothingness could be held at bay, but that individuals who found such dishonesty impalatable were perennially catching fugitive glimpses of the appalling truth. Adam felt a surge of tremendous relief when he realized that he must be one of the honest few, and that this was the explanation of his inability to relate meaningfully to the insensitive majority of his fellows. It was as if a truth that had long been captive in some dark cranny of his convoluted brain had been suddenly set free.
When Adam laid the book down on his bedside table for the last time, the silken caress of his expensive sheets seemed to be infused with a new meaning. For twenty-five years he had been a stranger to himself, but now he felt that he had been properly introduced.
He woke Sylvia, his bride of eight weeks, and said: "We're going to die, Syl."
We must presume that although she may have been mildly distressed by being hauled back from gentle sleep in this rude manner, Sylvia would have adopted a tone of loving sympathy.
"No we're not, Adam," she would have said. "We're both perfectly healthy."
Perhaps that was the crucial moment of disconnection which sealed the eventual doom of their marriage.
"Death is the one constant of our existence," Adam told her, calmly. "The awareness that we might be snuffed out of existence at any moment haunts us during every bright moment of our waking lives. Although we try with all our might not to see the specter at the feast of life, it's always there, always seeking us out with eyes whose hollowness insists that we too will one day forsake our being in the world. No matter how hard we strive for mental comfort and stability, that fundamental insecurity undermines and weakens the foundations of the human psyche, spoiling its fabric long before the anticipated moment of destruction actually arrives.
"We all try, in our myriad ways, to suppress and defeat it, but we all fail. We invent myths of the immortality of the soul; we hide in the routines of the everyday; we try to dissolve our terror in the acid baths of love and adoration--but none of it works, Syl. It can't work. If I read him aright, Heidegger thinks that if we could only face up to the specter we'd be able to exorcise it, liberating ourselves from our servitude to the ordinary and achieving authentic existence, but that's like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps; it's nothing but another philosophical word game. The issue can't be dodged--not, at any rate, by any cheap trick of that kind. The angst will always win."
In the course of a year-long courtship and eight weeks of happy marriage Sylvia Zimmerman must already have had abundant opportunity to study her loved one's slight penchant for pomposity, but she was prepared to forgive its occasional excesses. She loved Adam. She did not understand him, but she did love him.
"Go to sleep, Adam," she advised. "Things won't seem half so bad in the morning.
As it happened, though, the sheer enormity of Adam's realization denied him escape into the arms of Morpheus. He turned out the bedside lamp and sat in the dark, appalled by the vision of nothingness that had been conjured up before him, languishing in the sensation of having no hope. And when morning came, it found him in exactly the same condition. It is useless to speculate now as to whether sleep might have saved him from further anguish; if he could have slept in such circumstances, he would not have needed saving. In fact, because he was the person he was, Adam Zimmerman became in the course of that insomniac night a man obsessed. Those few roughhewn sentences which had poured out of him as he tried to explain himself to the sleepy Sylvia became the axioms of his continuing life.
Sylvia must have tried other arguments in the days that followed, but none fared any better than her first shallow riposte. This was not her fault; if Martin Heidegger could not succeed in persuading Adam that there was a satisfactory answer to the problem of angst, Sylvia Zimmerman had no chance. She was not an unintelligent woman by any means-- her academic qualifications were superior to Adam's and she certainly had a broader mind--but she did not have Adam's capacity for obsession. Her cleverness was diffuse and highly adaptable, while his was tightly focused and direly difficult to shift once it had selected an objective.
Sylvia was adept at moving on, and that was the way she coped with all life's intractable problems; if one proved too difficult she simply put it away and redirected her attention to more comfortable and more productive fields of thought and action. However ironic or paradoxical it may seem to us, in the light of subsequent events, moving on was the one thing that Adam Zimmerman could not do. Once the crucial fragment of philosophical ice had penetrated the profoundest depths of his conscious mind, his life could no longer flow as the lives of other men and women flowed; from that moment on his inner self was cold, crystalline, and hard as adamant.
For some years, Adam let his wife follow her own advice while he continued to brood privately, but his preoccupation was not a secret that he could keep from her, even if that had been his desire. It could not help but surface repeatedly, each time more insistent than the last. Heidegger's analysis of the human predicament--that all human life is underlaid, limited, subverted, and irredeemably devalued by its own precariousness in the face of death--gnawed at Adam's guts like some monstrous hookworm, and he could not help coughing up the argumentative flux whenever it threatened to overwhelm him.
He consulted many other philosophers in the hope of finding a solution to his predicament, but all the cures they suggested seemed to him to be no more than shifty conjurations based in dishonest sleight-of-mind. He even went so far as to consult the novels of Jean-Paul Sartre, but Nausea only confirmed his long-held prejudice against the fallaciousness of fiction. Try as he might, he could attain no age of reason, obtain no reprieve, and discover no iron in the soul. He could not believe that anyone with a clear mind could draw an atom of satisfaction from the prospect of "living on" after death in the pages of authored books, the strokes of a paintbrush, or the notes of a musical composition. Nor could he consider the remembrance of children or the extrapolation of a dynasty to be of the slightest palliative value. The prospect of being a born-again optimist could not tempt him even when everyone alongside whom he worked waxed lyrical about the power of positive thinking, the rewards of "proactivity," and the vital necessity of a "can do" attitude. He needed something far more solid than the gospel of self-help in which to invest his commitment.
Adam was tempted for a while to abandon his job as a consultant in corporate finance, on the grounds that there was something absurdly meaningless about the ceaseless juggling of figures. He was a very accomplished saltimbanque,to be sure, and he prided himself on the fact that no one could walk the tightrope that separated tax avoidance from tax evasion more surefootedly than he, but even the most creative exercises in bookkeeping seemed to exemplify the desperate absorption in the trivial that was one of the most obviously hollow of all the false solutions to the problem of being.
Although he had no talent at all for composition, Adam did play the guitar quite well--it was one of the few activities capable of relaxing him--and for a while he contemplated beginning a new career as a spaced-out folksinger. He imagined for a while that he might grow his hair long, wear a beard, and change his name to Adam X in order to symbolize the falseness of family as a conduit of intergenerational continuity. He decided soon enough, however, that such a career would be no less absurd than a career in corporate finance, and a good deal less profitable.
Sylvia applauded this particular decision heartily, but Adam's angst became, in Sylvia's eyes, a marital misdemeanor. She was eventually to divorce him on the grounds that he could not provide her with essential emotional support. "The trouble with you," she said, on the day she finally left him, "is that you're incapable of enjoying yourself."
Sylvia never remarried and remained permanently childless, living comfortably on the alimony which Adam paid her until she died in 2019, but whether she escaped the ravages of her own angst remains unclear. Adam always claimed, with a hint of residual vindictiveness, that she died an alcohol-sodden wreck; although he was an unusually honest and serious man, all other surviving documents suggest that she lived a rich life, within the constraints of her time, and died as happily as anyone can who accepts the necessity.

Copyright © 2002 by Brian Stableford
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    deep thought-provoking cerebral tale

    In the thirty-fifth century, scientists including historian Mortimer Gray awaken a twenty-second century human Madoc Tamlin from suspended animation. To his shock, Madoc learns that his revival was a prototype before the real effort of bringing back mankind¿s most important historical figure perhaps since the first Adam, Adam Zimmerman. When global capitalism collapsed as predicted by the Marxists only too late for the Communists early in the twenty-first century, Adam took over the planet and actually averted an environmental disaster way beyond biblical proportions. He saved the world with his actions leading to the development of the emortal post-human culture based on technology. Madoc realizes that emortality does not mean perfect cohesiveness and harmony as factions argue over elements and definitions of emortality. The six novels that make up Brian Stableford¿s futuristic history of humanity are incredible accomplishments that display what science fiction can achieve. The latest tale, THE OMEGA EXPEDITION, ties up loose ends while providing a deep thought-provoking cerebral tale that leaves the audience to think what is really mankind and how would immortality impact the soul? None of the sextet is a one-day read as the complexities seem inhuman for any person to have written, but worth the time for those fans who take delight in a brainiac novel and series Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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