Star Child – James P Hogan (1997)
‘Must the Creator be greater than the Creation?
Taya had always lived in the World. her companion Kort had always been with her. She accepted these things, and why not? They were her world. But Taya wondered why everything she could see beyond the window was so different from all the things inside. She also wondered why the stars never changed if her world was really moving the way her metal friend Kort said it was… Could Kort be wrong? That would be very strange, because Kort knew everything, and he was sure they were moving – just as she was sure the stars were not.
Then, one day, the World was born anew.’
Blurb from the 1998 Baen paperback edition
Beginning with a novella from 1979, this volume continues with three more sequential chapters from 1997.
It’s a romantic post-Simak novel which, although it breaks new ground, is an enjoyable and compulsive read.
With regard to the plot:-
A young girl, Toya, lives aboard an interstellar ship, Merkon. Her only friend is Kort, a humanoid robot who patiently explains to her that the ship is in interstellar space and that they are en-route to a star, but that it will take a long time to get there. It appears that Toya is the only human on board. The machines apparently became self-aware during the journey and evolved several independent minds; a Mystic, a Thinker, a Scientist and a Sceptic, who together managed to deduce that someone had built them and from that discovered the record of DNA codes from which they built Toya.
However, Toya is not strictly speaking, alone. Not only does she have Kort, but a humanoid robot who is a an amalgam of the four original minds, but also another fifty children, babies in stasis, whom Kort awakes for Toya to mother and train.
Ten years later, the ship arrives at its destination, a planet with a human population at a medieval feudal level of society. The people have a prophecy that silver gods will arrive to bring peace to the planet as indeed, eventually they do. There are still mysteries however, since the origin of the ship Merkon is unclear, and there is archaeological evidence to suggest that an advanced technological society once covered the planet.
The truth is gradually discovered and the story of Toya, which started when she was nine years old, ends with her death as a very old woman, but a woman who has transformed a world.
It’s a shame that Hogan isn’t better known, since although his work is not cutting edge, it’s very readable. Hogan keeps the spirit of traditional SF alive, when perhaps too many are clamouring for the next new sub-genre or evolutionary development in the field.
Having said there, there was inevitably going to be a retro feel to the novel given that the first quarter was written in 1979. The rest of the book takes up where that left off and was no doubt constrained by the style.