The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Paul J. McAuley’s Eternal Light continues the story of Dorthy Yashida, a young Japanese woman with extraordinary psychic abilities, that began in his first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars (1988). A terrible war and exodus by an alien race, the Alea, from the center of the galaxy millions of years before the time of the novel serves as the catalyst for the books events.

The Alea and humanity fought a tragic war that ended in the slaughter of the aliens. In an effort to evaluate a potential threat to Earth, two expeditions race to a rogue star heading toward the solar system. The expeditions eventually are transported to the center of the galaxy, where they confront and defeat a threat to the universe. Fifty years later, the survivors return to find a greatly changed Earth and try to adapt to the new order.

The novel begins when Dorthy Yashida is kidnapped by Talbeck Barlstilkin, a rich man who desires to build a personal empire by discovering the secrets of the rogue star traveling faster than the speed of light toward Earth. Talbeck forces Dorthy to join his expedition, but they have to be rescued by a Navy ship, the Vingança, after they are trapped in orbit around a neutron star. Traveling aboard the ship, Talbeck and Dorthy finally reach the rogue star and start to investigate a gas giant and its moon that orbit the star. The moon was created to serve as a gateway to the center of the galaxy. It is riddled...

(The entire section is 543 words.)