Julian May's Saga of the Exiles
was first drawn to my attention back in 1984, when I was at secondary school. As it happened, I was on the second tier of 'friends-to-lend-books-to' of the guy who actually owned the book, so since he'd lent the first instalment out to someone else, I started reading Book 2 first.
There are four instalments
- The Many-Colored Land
- The Golden Torc
- The Non-Born King
- The Adversary
The basic premise is this - following the advent of metapsychic operancy in the nearish future, the human race is embraced by the Galactic Milieu, a confedartion of alien races, all of whom have mind powers to varying degrees of strength. The upstart humans, it turns out, have dazzling powers in this respect, despite the relative youth, and a power-struggle develops, with two brothers - Marc Remillard and Jack Remillard on opposing camps, fighting what becomes the Metaphsycic Rebellion. Marc lost, and disappeared, taking his band of rebels with him.
Now, not everyone is happy with how things work in the Galactic Milieu, but fortunately for the disenchanted, a French professor of theoretical physics has managed to construct a one-way time portal in France. It only works one-way (6 million years back in time), and it'll only work in one place (that particular valley in France), so although it's quite a neat thing, since application seems limited, it's left to gather dust.
Until, one day, a German hitchhiker turns up at his widow's door, begging to be let through to the Pliocene era, to make his adventure there.
Madame Guderian consents, and gradually word spreads out that there's this gateway to a primitive world, one without the Galactic Milieu and its laws, regulations and alien races, and this appeals to a large number of people for many different reasons.
Eventually, the Milieu itself takes over operation of the portal, and each week a group is despatched through the portal, to make their life anew in the Pliocene.
The Saga of the Exiles follows Group Green, a spectacular collection of individuals (Aiken, Elizabeth, Felice, Amerie, Claude, Richard, Stein, Bryan), as they land in the Pliocene and discover that a) not only was the Pliocene not
as unpeopled by exotic races as they'd hoped, and b) it's not going to prove the idyllic escape that they'd anticipated.
On the other side of the gate there's this dimorphic race, the Tanu/Firvulag (if those names seem slightly familiar, it becomes apparent that the tale manages to foreshadow some of the old English legends in both race names, legends and place names, although much of this eluded me on first reading), who have metapsychic powers, but only as allowed by their wearing of cybergenetic enhancing metal collars, known as torcs. Unbeknownst to them, these torcs also worked on humans - operants (those with active powers) weren't allowed to pass through the portal, but those with latent powers could have their abilities activated through the application of a torc.
Anyway, the tale itself spans four epic volumes, and follows the immense changes that Group Green manage to effect on the Pliocene landscape (both politically and, in one spectacular case, physically).
It's immense, and epic and fantastic.
Unfortunately, it also starts off reeeeeally
slowly. But persist with it, because once Group Green has made it to Castle Gateway on the other side of the portal, things start to kick off.
So, who else likes these?