in the title of Paul Melko’s debut novel, posits a future in which
a sudden marked acceleration in technological progress occurred when
the majority of the human population formed itself into a mentally connected
synergistic "community". This resulted in a profound, almost
cataclysmic, change to the human condition; there’s an artificial
ring around the earth and the "community" of 60 billion people
has disappeared, either billions have died or they have sublimated into
something unknowable. Thirty years after this event, with structure returned
to what’s left of civilization, the human population is divided
into "pods" (genetically enhanced groups of two to five individuals
which act as one) and "singletons" (normal, but second class,
In this world, we meet the young Apollo Papadopulos, a pod of five training
to become a starship captain; suffice it to say that there are forces
attempting to interfere with this, things don’t go well and Apollo
has fight for his (her/its?) life. At this point, the novel becomes part
mystery and part adventure yarn, with strong sci-fi overtones.
The tale is told from Apollo’s perspective with other pods being
seen as composite entities rather than their constituent individuals.
However, Apollo’s voice comes from his/her individual members rather
than the presumed group mind, which makes his/her "oneness" a
little hard to accept; even so, Apollo makes an interesting and sympathetic
character that the reader can’t help but like and wish well. The "bad
guys" mostly have no redeeming characteristics which makes them
rather two dimensional.
The plot proceeds apace, interestingly but with no apparent resolution
in sight, until, deus ex machina, a sudden plot twist reveals all and
the story comes to a rapid end. I confess to feeling somewhat cheated;
this book had the potential to be so much more.