cover image The Siege of Eternity

The Siege of Eternity

Frederik Pohl. Tor Books, $22.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86375-3

Two alien races battle for domination of the universe, and the Earth is caught in the middle. Federal agent Dan Dannerman thought he'd thwarted the alien invasion in Pohl's The Other End of Time (1996), the first volume of what looks to be an ongoing series, but now he discovers that he's been the victim of an elaborate deception. A radio message has been received from Starlab, the orbital space station from which Dannerman has just returned. Oddly, the person sending the message claims to be Dannerman and is apparently telling the truth. Then there's the matter of the alien bug that has somehow become attached to the back of Dannerman's head, and the sudden appearance of a spacecraft carrying three aliens, the duplicate Dannerman and four exact copies of his cousin Pat, with whom he recently explored Starlab. The alien invasion plot at the center of the novel is basically solid, but Pohl, one of the grand old men of SF (he published his first stories in the mid-1930s), has trouble maintaining the tension, and too many of the characters act like cartoons. Of some interest is Pohl's use of cosmologist Frank Tipler's controversial Omega Point theory, which argues that everyone who has ever lived will be reborn through scientific means at the end of the universe. Like many middle volumes in a series, however, the book leaves just about everything up in the air and comes to an unsatisfying ending. (Nov.)