The Gripping Hand
Copyright 1993 by
I first read this in 1995 and most recently in May 2001.
It's 25 years after the Motie civilisation was first discovered in
"The Mote". The blockade still survives, obliterating Motie ships as they
exit the wormhole into normal space.
Rob Blaine and Sally Fowler run the Blaine Institute which continues to
study the Moties and their children grew up with the three Motie
Horace Bury and Kevin Renner continue to the Empire's secret work,
but have become increasingly concerned that either the Moties have
already escaped, or are about to. Both of them know the horror that
could result if the Moties population pressure could no longer be confined to the Mote system.
This is super stuff. Rereading "The Mote in God's Eye" in 2001, I was slightly disappointed -
although it is still, in my view, the best space opera - alien contact
novel, I found it a little teenage, starship-trooperish. "The Gripping Hand" does
not have that problem, it's certainly a more mature and accomplished work.
It has the most enthralling space battle I've ever read. So exciting,
in fact, that I paused long enough to dredge up Hawkwind's "In Search of
Space" album, cranking up the volume for "Master of the Universe". With
this masterpiece reverberating away in the background, plus tobacco and
a shot of Cuevo 1800 I was able to continue reading in the spirit that
the book quite clearly demands.
Finally this little "Pocket Book" did not fragment while reading as its
predecessor did. Surprising, ne? But of course the reason it didn't
fragment was that I cleverly refrained from opening it up more than 50
degrees. Of course that made it rather hard to read (especially after
the Tequila) but at least it will last to be read one more time. Even so it is an astonishingly bizarre idea to bind books so that they, if opened
fully, fall apart while being read.
Loaded on the 26th May 2001.