"Hogan skillfully draws the reader into a fascinating philosophical and theological debate, without ever forgetting he's supposed to entertain and tell a good story."-Newsday ****
Long ago, an alien "searcher" ship flew too close to a star gone nova. Though heavily damaged, the ship landed on one of Saturn's moons, Titan.
Attempting to fulfill its original function of seeding suitable planets for exploitation, the ship creates an bewildering society of self-replicating machines that gives rise to a bizarre ecosystem and culture with intelligent beings and organically grown houses. ****
The intelligent beings are known as Taloids and they have developed their own brand of religion around a mythical figure, a creator of machines, and hence, life. ****
When humans descend from the sky, the Taloids see them as those creators.
However, powerful financial and industrial interests are all set to exploit the moon and the Taloids to maximize Titan's vast production potential and the future for the Taloids looks grim. ****
But they find a champion from an unexpected source. Karl Zambendorf is a "psychic" who has wrangled a place aboard the human mission to Titan. And when all of man's forces are conspiring to ruthlessly exploit Titan and the Taloids, Zambendorf becomes their champion and in the process challenges not only the religious imperatives of the Taloids, but the core of our own beliefs as well.
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Read an Excerpt
Code of the Lifemaker
By James P. Hogan
Baen BooksISBN: 0-7434-3526-5
Chapter OneKarl Zambendorf stood gazing down over Seventh avenue from the window of his penthouse suite in the New York Hilton. He was a tall man in his early fifties, a little on the portly side but with an erect and imposing bearing, graying hair worn collar-length and flowing, bright, piercing eyes, and hawklike features rendered biblically patriarchal by a pointed beard that he bleached white for effect. Although the time was late in the morning, Zambendorf's breakfast tray on the side table beside the window had only recently been discarded, and he was still in his shirt-sleeves from sleeping in after his team's late-night return from its just completed Argentina tour.
A prominent Argentine news magazine had featured him as THE AUSTRIAN MIRACLE-WORKER on its cover for the previous week's issue, and the hostess of one of the major talk shows on Buenos Aires TV had introduced him as "Perhaps one of the most baffling men of the twenty-first century, the scientifically authenticated super-psychic..." Thus had Latin America greeted the man who was already a media sensation across the northern continent and Western Europe, and whose ability to read minds, foretell the future, influence distant events, and divine information inaccessible to the human senses had been proved, the public was assured, by repeated tests to be beyond the power of science to explain.
"Karl, I don't like it," Otto Abaquaan said from behind him. Zambendorf pursed his lips and whistled silently to himself while he waited for Abaquaan to continue. The exchange had become a ritual over the years they had worked together. Abaquaan would voice all the reasons why they shouldn't get involved and couldn't afford the risks, and Zambendorf would explain all the reasons why they didn't have any choice. Abaquaan would then reconsider, and eventually, grudgingly, he would concede. Having disposed of the academic issues, they would then proceed somehow to resolve the crisis. It happened that way about once a week. Abaquaan went on, "We'd be out of our minds to get mixed up in it. The whole situation would involve too much of the wrong kind of exposure. We don't need risks like that."
Zambendorf turned away from the window and thrust out his chin. "It was reported as if it were our idea in the first place, and it received a lot of news coverage," he said. "We can't afford to be seen to back down now. On top of that, it would destroy our credibility not only with a lot of the public, but with GSEC... and GSEC can do us a lot of good, Otto. So the situation didn't work out as we expected. What's new? We're stuck with it, but we can handle it."
Otto Abaquaan, a handsomely lean and swarthy Armenian with black hair, a droopy mustache, and deep brown, liquid eyes, rubbed his nose with a knuckle while he considered the statement, then shook his head and sighed. "Why the hell did you have to get us into it, Karl? You said the GSEC Board would never take any notice of a turkey like Hendridge. That was why the rest of us agreed to go along with the crazy idea-because there would be all kinds of good publicity opportunities when GSEC turned it down... you said." He threw out his hands and sent an exasperated look up to the ceiling. "But now what have we got? Mars! ... as if we didn't have better things to do than go fooling around on Mars for six months. Is there really no way we can get ourselves out of this?"
Zambendorf shrugged unconcernedly and showed his empty palms. "Certainly-we can call the whole thing off and admit to the world that we never really expected anybody to take us seriously... because that's how they'll see it. And as for better things to do, well, maybe we could spend the time in better ways and then, maybe not. Who knows? When was the last time a psychic operated from Mars? The situation might turn out to have opportunities we never thought of."
"Very philosophical," Abaquaan commented, with less than wild enthusiasm. It was all very well for Zambendorf to talk about grandiose schemes and opportunities; it would be Abaquaan and the rest of the team who did the legwork.
"'Philosophical,' my dear Otto, is the state of mind one reverts to when unable to change anything anyway. And that's the situation we are in. In short, we don't have a choice."
GSEC, General Space Enterprises Corporation, and NASO-the European-American military and civilian North Atlantic Space Organization that had grown from a merger of many of the former interests of NASA, ESA, and NATO-were funding expansion of one of the pilot bases on Mars to test ideas on the organization of extraterrestrial communities as a prelude to the construction of full-scale colonies. A GSEC director by the name of Baines Hendridge-a long-standing true believer in ESP and the "paranormal," and a recent convert to the Zambendorf cult-had proposed sending Zambendorf with the mission in order to perform the first-ever tests of clairvoyance and psychic communication over interplanetary distances, and to conduct ESP experiments in conditions free from terrestrial "interference." Zambendorf, confident that the GSEC Board would never go along with the idea, had reacted with a show of enthusiasm, partly because anything else would have failed the expectations of the faithful and partly to set the stage in advance for exploiting another "Scientists Back Off Zambendorf Challenge" story when the proposal was turned down. Baines Hendridge's influence had turned out to be greater than he had calculated, however, and the Board's acceptance of the proposal had left Zambendorf in a position that he could retreat from only at the cost of more public ignominy than his image could afford.
"I guess you're right," Abaquaan conceded after a short silence. "But I still don't like the idea of getting mixed up with a NASO space mission." He shook his head again, dubiously. "It's not like dealing with the public. There are some good scientists in that outfit... in a different league from the assholes we're used to handling. It's risky."
"Scientists are the easiest to fool." That was one of Zambendorf's favorite lines. "They think in straight, predictable, directable, and therefore misdirectable, lines. The only world they know is the one where everything has a logical explanation and things are what they appear to be. Children and conjurors-they terrify me. Scientists are no problem; against them I feel quite confident."
Abaquaan smiled humorlessly. "Confidence is what you feel when you don't really understand the situation." He raised his arm to glance at his wristset.
Zambendorf was about to reply when the call tone sounded from the room's comnet terminal. Abaquaan walked across to answer it. The screen came to life to show the smooth, clean-cut features of Drew West, Zambendorf's business manager, calling from another suite farther along the hallway. "Those NBC people should be arriving downstairs anytime now," West said. "You'd better be getting on down to the lobby." Clarissa Eidstadt, who handled the team's publicity affairs, had arranged for a short television interview to be taped that morning, for screening later in the day to mark Zambendorf's return to New York.
"I was just about on my way," Abaquaan said.
"Has Karl finished breakfast yet?" West asked. "Times getting on. We've got a full schedule this afternoon." "Yes," Abaquaan said. "He's right here. You want to talk to him?"
"Good morning, Drew," Zambendorf said cheerfully, stepping into the viewing angle as Abaquaan moved away. "Yes, I'm almost ready. How did you sleep?" He nodded across the room as Abaquaan let himself out the door.
"Hi, Karl. Fine, thanks," Drew West acknowledged. West had accepted the Mars situation matter-of-factly. Taking the team to the Andromeda galaxy would have been fine by him as long as there was money in it. "The NBC team's due here in about fifteen minutes, and there are a couple of things we need to go over before they show up. If you're through with breakfast, we'll come on down."
"Yes, why don't you do that," Zambendorf said. "We can talk while I finish dressing."
"See you in a couple of minutes, Karl."
* * *
Downstairs, at the hotel's side foyer in front of the ramp leading down to the parking levels, Otto Abaquaan pretended to study a New York street map while he memorized the details and registration number of the car that had arrived with the NBC van from which two men were unloading TV cameras and recording equipment. The smartly dressed, fair-haired woman who had driven the car was standing nearby, holding a briefcase and a sheaf of papers and talking with two colleagues-another woman and a man-who had come with her. Abaquaan guessed her to be the owner of the car and also the reporter who would be interviewing Zambendorf; but he needed to be sure.
NBC had neglected to advise them of the name of their reporter in advance, which was unusual and meant, possibly, that Zambendorf was being set up for something. An enquiry from Clarissa Eidstadt or from Drew West could no doubt have answered the question easily enough, but that would have wasted an opportunity of exactly the kind that Zambendorf and his team excelled at seizing. A gamble was involved, of course-Abaquaan might turn up nothing in the short time available-but one of the advantages enjoyed by psychics was that negative results were always soon forgotten.
A hotel valet drove the car away toward the ramp, and the woman and her two companions walked through into the main lobby with Abaquaan following them inconspicuously at a short distance. One of the clerks at the front desk raised his eyebrows enquiringly. "Can I help you, ma'am?"
"Yes. My name is Marion Kearson, from NBC. I arranged with the assistant manager, Mr. Graves, to tape an interview in the lobby with Karl Zambendorf. Is Mr. Graves available, please?"
"One moment. I'll call his office."
That answered one question. Time was now crucial if the gamble was going to pay off. Abaquaan turned and walked quickly to the line of comnet terminals at the rear of the lobby, sat in one of the booths, closed the door, and called a number in the Vehicles Registration Department of the State of New Jersey. Seconds later a man with pink, fleshy features and a balding head appeared on the screen. "Hello, Frank. Long time no see. How're things?" Abaquaan spoke quietly but urgently.
The face frowned for a moment, then recognized the caller. "Say, Harry! Things are good. How's the private-eye business?" Abaquaan never made public appearances and hence could command a long list of aliases.
"It's a living. Look, I need some information fast. The usual deal and terms. Any problem?"
Frank glanced about him with an instinctively furtive look. "Can I ask what it's to do with?"
"Nothing to lose any sleep over-a domestic thing. I need to find out who owns a car that's been seen in a couple of places. The usual suspicious husband routine."
Frank licked his lips, then nodded. "Okay. Got the number?"
"New Jersey registration KGY27-86753."
"Hang on a minute." Frank looked away and began operating another terminal offscreen. Abaquaan produced a pen and notebook, and then sat drumming his fingers on the side of the terminal while he waited. "Well?" he asked as Frank at last turned back to look out of the screen.
"It's registered under the name of a Mrs. Marion Kearson, 2578 Maple Drive, Orangeton," Frank said. "You want details of the car?"
"I've got a description. Has it been reregistered at the same address for very long, and is there any accident record?"
"Renewed successively for the last three years. No accidents."
"Any other vehicles registered at the same address? What information do you have on the drivers?..."
* * *
"Very well, we'll be down in a few minutes," Drew West said to the screen of the terminal in the living room of Zambendorf's suite. He cut the call, turned, and announced, "That was Graves, the assistant manager. He's with Clarissa downstairs. The NBC people are all set up and ready when we are."
Dr. Osmond Periera, middle-aged, wispy haired, wearing a bow tie with a maroon jacket and smoking a Turkish cigarette through an ornate silver holder, resumed talking from the point where the call had interrupted. The introductions and author profiles in his best-selling pseudoscience books described him as Zambendorf's discoverer and mentor; certainly he was among the staunchest of the disciples. "One of the most intriguing possibilities on Mars will be the opportunity to verify that extrasensory information does indeed propagate in a mode not constrained by any form of inverse-square law. Although experiments on Earth seem to suggest that the field strength does not diminish with distance at all, my feeling is that until now the scale has simply been too small to reveal significant differences. After all, even though we are venturing into a completely new phenomenological realm, we mustn't allow ourselves to lose our sense of realism and scientific plausibility, must we?"
Zambendorf blinked and rubbed his nose with the back of his hand. Periera's ability to invent the most outrageous explanations for Zambendorf's feats and, moreover, to believe them himself totally uncritically and without reservation, constantly amazed even Zambendorf. "It's an interesting thought," he agreed. "Another possibility is that the remoteness of negative influences might well have a beneficial effect on repeatability."
Periera brought a hand up to toy unconsciously with his bow while he considered the suggestion. It was intriguing-certainly something that hadn't occurred to him before. "I could design tests to be conducted through the voyage for investigating any correlations with distance," he mused. "That might be very informative."
"Yes, why don't you do that," Zambendorf agreed.
Periera turned to Baines Hendridge, a dark-haired, clean-shaven man with a collegiate look about him, who was wearing his usual intense expression. Hendridge had come to the Hilton early that morning to convey personally the news of the GSEC Board's decision concerning the Mars project, and to invite Zambendorf and colleagues to lunch with some of the other directors. "It is a well-established fact that manifestations of paranormal phenomena differ from observables at the more mundane, material level of existence in that their repeatability is affected by the presence of negative or critical influences," Periera explained. "The effect is predictable from elementary quantum mechanics, which proves the interdependence between the observer and the observed." Hendridge nodded as he absorbed the revelation, and looked even more intense.
The call tone sounded from the room's terminal. Drew West answered, and a second later Otto Abaquaan's face appeared on the screen.
Excerpted from Code of the Lifemaker by James P. Hogan Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Hogan really gives a new perspective to the nature of life. The novel brilliantly examines the questions of religion, science, and the explotation of both by those in power . Also, Hogan doesn't cop out on the scientific details. This work will definitely not disappoint.