The Giants Series consists of four separate but connected books by the talented author James P. Hogan - the first three of which have been made available in a combined format titled 'The Giants Novels.' They are especially suited to those who enjoy reading details surrounding scientific discovery and who favour intellectually-stimulating writing. The plots invariably contain mysteries that require solutions, and lots of science or, at the very least, future-science.
The chronological order of the stories is:
- Inherit the Stars (1977)
- The Gentle Giants of Ganymede (1978)
- Giants' Star (1981)
- Entoverse (1991)
Inherit the Stars
The stories begin after the earth has solved most of its social and political problems and has used some of the released resources to energize its space exploration efforts. They have established moon bases for the purposes of scientific discovery and experimentation. The bases are well established when a corpse is discovered in a previously-unexplored crater. The body is human, though it had large eyes, plenty of body hair, and fairly long nostrils. The corpse, nicknamed 'Charlie,' is outfitted with an unusual spacesuit. He died after sustaining injuries and is over 50,000 years old. The search for who and what Charlie is, and discovering his origin, may mean a complete rewrite of man's history.
The discovery on the moon of whole, dust-buried bases (containing bodies of other male and female 'Charlies') damaged by warfare and ostensibly belonging to Charlie's people, provides information that proves the 'Lunarians' (as the 'Charlies' are now known) were absolutely, 100% human, and had to be of earth descent (though they could not be from earth).
Providence offers up some potentially connected and important evidence in the discovery of a huge, crashed space-vessel on one of Jupiter's frozen moons; but it turns out to be an even older and more confusing find. The occupants, Giants, are much larger, non-human, humanoids; and their cargo consists of samples of flora and fauna from Earth's even more distant past - about 25 million years more distant. Some are dead, frozen, and severely decomposed (like the alien occupants), whereas others are expertly preserved like high-school dissecting projects, before the crash.
Eventually, it is the older, seemingly-unconnected Ganymede wreckage that provides enough clues to finally bring all the pieces together.
The Gentle Giants of Ganymede
The Giants are returning, but they're not the same ones that crashed. These are more, slightly older Giants, and they think that they are coming home. They are in for a rude awakening, and are (though extremely polite and civil) positively aghast at who and what they find manning the solar system.
They are equally stunned by things like our big-bang theory, saying that only a race with our violent history could imagine such a theory. Their race has always been absolutely peace-loving; but for some very peculiar reasons.
As luck would have it, the Terrans now know even more about the fate of the Giants' ancestors than do the returning Giants. With a little cross-species information-sharing, and with the aid of their sentient, onboard computer (Zorac), we fill them in and point them in the right direction.
A message is sent on ahead, just as the gentle Giants prepare to disembark on a journey to meet others of their kind. As the Giants sail off to their destiny, they barely miss a most improbably quick reply to their just-transmitted message. Their arrival is welcome and warmly anticipated.
Just when it seems that man understands the total truth of his origin and his place in the scheme of things, up rears the menace of the dark side of human nature, coupled with the indomitable human spirit.
The descendants of the Giants' race need to communicate with the primitive Terrans. Someone has been meddling with earth's progress, and feeding them a false history of our planet. The insidious and treacherous nature of the interference points to a race, unlike the well-met Giants who are still en route to the Giants' Star. After surviving against tremendous odds and horrible deprivations, and rejoining their kind, our recently-made, peace-loving friends need our help to protect them from - of all people - humans.
It is only with the combined efforts of the current and advanced Giants (with their sentient, multi-planetary system computer, Visar), the returned ancient Giants, and the modern day Terrans that peace may yet prevail in an always uncertain universe; for the Jevlenese (and their own sentient, multi-planetary system computer, Jevex) want the universe for their own.
It's one antiquated, unarmed ship, and the inventiveness of a few humans, against a series of advanced worlds' weaponry and treachery.
Communications between the races have become commonplace, and the Terrans hitch a ride on a starship, experiencing an alien culture first-hand. The Jevlenese have become a different sort of problem, acting almost as if they were possessed. Their all-too-human disposition towards deceit and deception is far beyond the comprehension of the Giants. The Terran delegation leaves earth to help with political problems involving disgruntled minorities and fanatical leaders with which the aliens are hopelessly unequipped to deal.
They discover the villains behind all the previous troubles: a race of beings utterly unlike either Terrans or Ganymeans. The 'Ents' are sentient life forms that have evolved within the 'data space' of the Giants' supercomputer system - along with a world that they perceive as complete: with plants and animals, oceans, continents and even a peculiar cosmos.
This is a universe that derives its constraints from the system-programmers and bears no relation to the laws governing the interactions of objects and forces in the known universe. In this realm, magic is possible, but the notion of material objects and space possessing properties that remain the same over time and distance is unheard of; and the idea of devices or machines capable of performing repetitious and reliable functions would appear equally strange.
Crossovers are possible, thanks to VR technology, and the final resolution becomes a tussle between their 'magic' and ours.
For science fiction (acknowledging that the genre generates more than its fair share of rubbish), the series contains incredibly full and rich characterisations and a believable future technology. Additionally, the plots have more interesting twists than a bag of pretzels.
Loose ends are only left to provide opportunities to tie them up all the more neatly later. The message is largely one of 'guess we can make this whole universe and peace thing work, if we really want to.'
This is a series written for the science-fiction lover and science-lover alike. Anyone who does not cringe each time they read the word 'space', should find much here to enjoy .