Thursday, July 11, 2024

In the Belly of the Whale

In the Belly of the Whale by Michael Flynn
7/16/24; 400 pages
CAEZIK SF & Fantasy  

In the Belly of the Whale by Michael Flynn is an epic science fiction journey that follows inhabitants aboard a colossal generation ship. This is a highly recommended final novel from Heinlein Medalist Flynn (1947–2023).

The Whale is a generation ship built within a hollowed-out asteroid that is set on a centuries-long journey to colonize the planet Tau Ceti and ensure the survival of the human race. Along with the hard science fiction elements involved with life aboard the unique space ship, Flynn closely follows the sociological changes that take place among the crew after generations spent on the ship.

After the Big Burnout, where a tenth of the ship has been basically abandoned, the original rules set in place for the efficient running of the ship and fair division of labor have now devolved into a stratification of the society with the privileged classes seeking power over everyone.  The differences in ideology, class, and cultural identity stirs up rebellion among the beleaguered crew, igniting the first whispers of revolution.

Admittedly, the list of personal at the start of the narrative was my friend as I tried to keep numerous names of characters and their stories straight. The main characters followed represent a selection of the diverse people across the society and include an detective, young lovers, politicians, and a non-commissioned officer, NCO. Once you can keep the unique names straight and come to know the characters, it makes following the plot a bit easier because you are no longer trying to keep characters straight.

There is no doubt that this is a dense novel, in scientific principles, language usage, the vision of the city in the ship, and the insightful examination of societal changes. It is a pleasure to read Michael Flynn's final novel as he is an intelligent writer who has always delivered a great story. Thanks to CAEZIK SF & Fantasy for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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