Volume 30, Number 2, Winter, 2012


By James P. Hogan

BAEN, 2011
Reviewed by Chris Hibbert

James P. Hogan’s Migration is a funny mix of high-tech space traveling futurism and down-home country folks. The bulk of the story takes place on Aurora, an interstellar ship on the first part of its journey, but it starts out on a mostly back-country world. We get to see some local politics and Korshak, a quick-thinking sleight-of-hand magician, who takes advantage of the local ruler’s gullibility as far as he can. Korshak has a fan and friend who is on the recruiting team for Aurora, so he manages to escape his pursuers and jump into a world unlike everything he’s used to. But he’s an adaptable guy, so he learns to be useful in the new environment.

Korshak has to use his wits to rescue Aurora from sabotage by a subversive faction that has recruited Kek, a robot, to help them. We get the standard tour around the society as Korshak chases Kek from place to place. Some of the sub-societies are interesting, including one group trying to live at a subsistence level on this generation star ship. But Hogan makes it completely plausible.

Early on, the recruiters are interviewing a ne’er-do-well the local authorities would like to get rid of. He responds

If it’s military, or some kind of troublemaking to provide an excuse for protective intervention somewhere, the answer’s no, but you don’t look like a military recruiter. [That] doesn’t solve anything. Just causes a lot of hate and reasons for revenge, and makes problems worse. The wrong people get rich.

Who do you think should get rich?

Well, the way I see it is, nobody’s born with anything. So whatever they get on top of what they produce themselves must come from other people. And the only way other people are going to give it to them is if they get something worthwhile back in return. So the ones who should end up with a lot to show are the ones who can do things better when it comes to providing what other people need.

But Hogan isn’t consistently pro-commerce. The bad guys who have brainwashed Kek call themselves Dollarians and their high officials have titles like Banker. It’s a fun story, but though it was nominated for the Prometheus last year, it wasn’t selected as a finalist. The side trip into Kek’s attempt to be more human, (which ends up with him getting involved with a cult) is worth the trip.

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