I am so impressed with this novel. As far as I know, and I have checked, this is a debut novel from Glen Hendrix. I have to stress DEBUT before I proceed with the review because it will start to sound as if I am reviewing a well established Science Fiction writer. There is a tendency for reviewers to give overly optimistic review ratings because it is so very hard to give a lukewarm one to a writer you have been corresponding with. I do not do this even though it is very stressful for me. I shudder when an author reads a review I have written but I have to be honest in my opinion.
Having said all of that….Glen Hendrix is STELLAR! Glen Hendrix is my new best friend! I am now the official Glen Hendrix fan club President whether he likes it or not! OK, OK, review time….
Transmat World opens in Jakarta, 2045 A.D. Daniel Fulbright, a businessman is wrapping things up and getting ready to leave his hotel room for the airport. The world has been made aware of an asteroid that will pass close to Earth but will not strike and since this has happened many times before it is basically ignored. Daniel sees the asteroid skipping across the sky then a blinding flash which immediately tells Daniel that this asteroid did not miss. What ensues is a very realistic and frightening race for Daniel and a few others he has rescued to get to a safe haven Daniel thinks will survive the devastation the impact will cause. You are completely immersed in this scene. Glen Hendrix understands the consequences of this type of disaster and he uses that knowledge to great success. I was left reeling.
Much to my surprise, we are then taken into the future of Earth and it’s recovery from the asteroid. More importantly, we are introduced to Vince Miller as a college student and his brilliant father who invents a teleportation technology called Transmat. This amazing technology can do wonderful things for all types of applications but it also results in the downfall of any transportation business as well as others and eventually a crash of the world market. Vince and especially his father become hated but Transmat technology is bigger than any hate and Vince goes on to lead the company to even higher success including his dream to use Transmat to explore space and eventually find sentient life there.
Then the author sends us back hundreds of thousands of years into the past and millions of light-years from Earth to another society which is somewhat more advanced than us but a more brutal society geared towards the hunt of lesser species on their planet. Among these people, the Kolpak, is a hunter who has become bored with his prey and commissions a robot to be made to challenge him. Through a series of events, this robot has unintentionally been given freewill and the intelligence of it’s creator. It gives itself a name, Maxlux, and decides it’s his duty to stop all higher life forms that kill those less than them. Then Maxlux builds a ship, a really big one and decides to travel the universe in search of more civilizations to stop and Earth is in his path.
In Transmat World, Glen Hendrix creates a civilization of robots that are human-like with their intelligence and emotions. You follow them and their struggle to free themselves from Maxlux and his mission. You also see the history of Earth evolve as the leader of the freed robots tries to prepare our civilization to combat Maxlux. It is fascinating and very personal. In spite of it’s far reaching timeline this book draws you in to the lives of human and robot alike. I became completely invested in the characters. More importantly, there is a lot of hard science in this story but Glen Hendrix made it approachable and completely interesting.
There is no way I can do this book justice with my limited writing skills. I can not stress enough how epic this novel truly is. I can compare it to the likes of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle with their brilliant books The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer which is the highest praise I can give.
Transmat World has been added to my all-time favorite books right alongside of those works of Niven and Pournelle. I cannot recommend this story enough.
Here is the book summary: Nine hundred thousand years ago in a galaxy right next door–the Greater Magellanic Cloud–an artificial intelligence is created to be a hunter’s prey. An accident produces a maniacal machine that destroys the civilization that created it and proclaims itself the Prime Mechanical and Supreme Arbiter of Known and Unknown Existence. With a space ship the size of the orbit of Mercury and an army of strikemechs, it prowls the Milky Way for sentient organics.
In the year 2045, the asteroid Isadora strikes off the west coast of Java, killing billions. Post-Hit Earth comes to realize the capricious nature of the cosmic weather forecast and begins to plan accordingly. Just when things are looking up, along comes Transmat (the first teleportation device) and the world’s economy collapses. The inventor is assassinated, leaving his son, Vince, to deal with a planet that hates him and a fast-approaching Supreme Arbiter.