Thursday, 22 October 1998

Julian May: The Adversary (1984)

Edition: Pan, 1984
Review number: 141

In the final book of the Saga of the Exiles series, the rebel metapsychic Marc Remeillard plays a large part; the title of the novel itself is one of his nicknames. His children, and the others of their generation, inhabiting the small settlement set up by the rebels, have gone to Europe, with the intention of setting up a copy of the time gate at the Pleistocene end so that they can return to the future. They were too young to have been involved in the rebellion, and hope for acceptance by the Concilium which rules the human polity.

Marc, however, has his own plans for them The roots of his disagreement with the Concilium were his plans for Mental Man, an entity purely of the mind. He wanted to accelerate human evolution to achieve this, using his own genes as a basis (as a member of the strongest human family of metapsychics, with a unique gene giving self-rejuvenation, he was a not unreasonable choice). But the death of his wife in the fighting occasioned by his refusal to accept the Concilium decision to discontinue his research led to a psychological infertility (his germ plasm no longer appeared to be fertile). Thus his plans relied on the availability of germ plasm from his children, hence his determination not to let them travel six million years into the future. He has been unable to bring himself to tell them, partly because he doesn't know what he would do in case of refusal, and partly because he hopes he himself might recover.

Naturally, the various factions with political interest in the Many-Coloured Land all wish to explot this scenario for their own ends. This provides the main interest of the novel.

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