Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Patterns of Chaos by Colin Kapp

In the uncertain shadows against a broken wall the figure of a young man lay in foetal position, only partially aware of the devastation which raged around him. Such consciousness as he bore was almost entirely consumed by a battle of equally desperate proportions deep within his skull. 
From Goodreads.

Patterns of Chaos was originally published in three parts in Worlds of IF in 1972.  It was serialized in three parts.  One of my favorite stories in the classic science fiction magazine was another Kapp story.  It was called "Mephisto and the Ion Explorer" from one of the last issues of that magazine.  I can't tell you what the story was about anymore but it remains in my memories as one of my favorite stories of that time.  I plan on reading it again.

How does "The Patterns of Chaos" hold up over time?  Click on "Read More" to find out.

One of the things that really stood out to me was the similarities between this novel and the New Space Opera movement.  It becomes obvious that writers like Alastair Reynolds have been influenced by this story or at least by ones similar to this.  

The fake personality implanted over a spy's real one is used in Reynolds' "Revelation Space".  The spy is sent to infiltrate what appears to be a superior enemy.  Forces have been put into motion in the distant past that will culminate in the time of the novel.  Even the method of communication with the spy is very familiar when you look at both novels.  

Of course Reynolds' novel is much longer and has more room to flesh out the story.  He also includes more of a horror take to his story.  As I read more of the New Space Opera movement I will be curious to see if the themes of this novel resonate through out the other writers' stories.

Getting back to the story at hand, I was impressed by the way that Kapp developed the chaos science.  He gave logical explanations for the theories behind this new "science".

Overall the dialogue was handled very well.  On a few occasions, Kapp strayed from the dialogue that was established earlier for the characters.  Fortunately it was only for a very short spell and he was able to get back on track for the rest of the story.

I would recommend this novel to fans of space opera in particular and science fiction in general.  "The Patterns of Chaos" is an intelligently written story that deserves to be brought back from obscurity.

1 comment:

adamosf said...

I have this serial in IF, but for some reason I never read it. Now you've given me an incentive to do so. Capp had another serial The Wizard of Anharitte the same year in IF. Have you read that one? I am actually trying to read or reread all my issues of IF and GALAXY (I have pretty much complete runs of both of them from their founding in the early 1950s, the older ones bought used over the years) and am SLOWLY going through them. There was a wealth of great stuff in this 2 magazines.