L. Neil Smith's

Number 8, May 1996

Gimme a Ticket to Otherwhere!

A book review by Don L. Tiggre

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         James P. Hogan's latest book, Paths To Otherwhere, is a lot of things, but mostly, it's classic Hogan. The plot and character development, the building to crisis, the satisfying resolution, and -- above all -- the total immersion in the cutting edge of current science... More than anything else, this book is a hard-core science fiction.
         Hogan's stories are not space fantasy, not futuristic fantasy, not fantasy at all. He speculates about cutting edge science and tells an entertaining story as a way to get readers to think about it.
         So, if working through new ideas in science is not your cup of tea, or physics makes you break out in rashes, Paths To Otherwhere -- or any Hogan book -- is probably not for you. If it's incessant gun-battles, sex-scenes, or other thrills that keep you reading a book, Paths may not float your boat. Hogan's writing is not particularly sensual... Don't look to him for visual poetry dripping from every page. You'll find poetry, metaphor, gun-battles, and even sex in Hogan's writing, but none of these things define his unique storytelling.
         What does define this unique storytelling style? Speculative fiction, as the grand master used to say. Excitement about encountering new ideas. Excitement about science and the discovery of knowledge as adventures in their own right.
         If these things fire your imagination, then you'll love Hogan's writing. Paths is a tip-top effort by a master of making ideas exciting.
         So, what is Paths to Otherwhere about?
         It's about a very real problem in quantum mechanics, a very real theoretical solution (if that's not a contradiction in terms), and a very believable conflict that arises when The Bad Guys want to use the resulting technology.
         Be forewarned: Hogan's Good Guys are no plaster saints and his Bad Guys are not mystical embodiments of evil. Everyone in Paths behaves in ways consistent with their beliefs... And as we all know from our 'real' lives, anyone who believes anything is going to find someone that disagrees with her or him.
         This brings up an odd thing about Hogan's writing; as much as he seems to want to distance himself from anyone or any philosophy that claims to have The Answer(s), Hogan's writing always seems to illustrate the futility of coercive human institutions. Both in economics and on social issues, the constant message -- dare I say, principle? -- I get from Hogan is:

Laissez Fair!!!

         More details on the story?
         Read the book. Here's all you need to know:

Paths to Otherwhere
By James P. Hogan
Copyright, 1996.
Published by Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471
(Distributed by Simon & Schuster)
405 Pages
ISBN: 0-671-87710-0

"Don L. Tiggre is a grant-writer and a would-be author of fiction. He lives with his three sons, who teach him daily lessons in effective ways to resist tyranny. Having just barely survived 16 years of 'education', Mr. Tiggre is doing his best to study the human animal in it's natural habitats."

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