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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Ouroboros Wave

Hayashi Jyouji

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To purchase The Ouroboros Wave

Title: The Ouroboros Wave
Author: Hayashi Jyouji
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 267 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: The Ouroboros Wave - US
The Ouroboros Wave - UK
The Ouroboros Wave - Canada
The Ouroboros Wave - India
  • Japanese title: ウロボロスの波動
  • Translated by Jim Hubbert

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Our Assessment:

B : solid, if often very technical/detail-oriented science fiction

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Denver Post . 25/12/2010 Fred Cleaver

  From the Reviews:
  • "The linked stories following from that idea are the kind of thoughtful adventure that were once the meat of the American science fiction magazines. (...) There are some recurring characters in these adventures but the scientific ideas are the core and passion that make the book so interesting." - Fred Cleaver, Denver Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Ouroboros Wave is the first in a series of books Hayashi has written around AADD -- "the Artificial Accretion Disk Development association". The premise behind this is that in 2100 a small black hole named Kali was discovered relatively close to the earth (only a few Astronomical Units (the mean distance between the earth and the sun) away) -- and that it was determined that it had a high probability of colliding with the Sun in: "anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand years". Eventually what they decide to do is shift Kali, so it orbits harmlessly at the fringes of the solar system, while also building an 'artifical accretion disk' around it -- basically a Dyson sphere -- that can eventually also provide the solar system with a near-endless supply of energy. In Hayashi's future, Terrans -- those who stayed based on earth -- are considerably more conservative than (and wary of) those who do most of the space-frontier work, on Mars and beyond (including most of the AADD, which functions differently as a community than the very hierarchical earth-bound one still does).
       The Ouroboros Wave consists of six stories, covering the period 2123 to 2171. Most of the stories focus on a specific event dealing with the AADD, and a cluster are set within five years of one another (2144 to 2149); the final story is the only one that spans a longer period (2146 to 2171). Some of the characters appear in more than one story, and there are references to previous episodes, but the cumulative effect is still only one of glimpses of the future, rather than of a whole. Nevertheless, Hayashi's technique is surprisingly effective -- yes, one wants to see and know more, but these episodes stand quite well on their loosely-connected own.
       Particularly appealing is that Hayashi does not try to stuff too much into his stories: these largely remain relatively small episodes, and though they are often significant Hayashi does not insist on hammering home their significance. A constant throughout the stories is a mysterious gravity wave that is detected -- but, for the most part, not properly understood or focused on by the scientists, a strange phenomenon that isn't their top priority. It is repeatedly suggested that this is sign of alien life, but Hayashi chooses not to foreground this: the gravity wave looms large but remains overshadowed by the other events in the stories (even as it often turns out to play a role in some of the events themselves).
       The first story -- the title story -- has a crew of workers near Kali explore the death of one of their colleagues, and then race to figure out what went (and continues to keep going) wrong in what is an interesting look at the nature of Artificial Intelligence. 'Hydra's Ice' is presented in alternating chapters (and with a countdown-clock) that describe a planned terrorist attack from the perspectives of the terrorist and of those chasing her, a cat-and-mouse game, with the clock ticking, of the fairly traditional sort (with a few clever science fiction twists) whose surprising payoff comes in its very unexpected resolution, as Hayashi takes a very roundabout way of showing how the AADD and the 'Guardians' in charge of security function. 'The Voice of Eingana' finds scientists from the AADD and from Earth together on a space research mission that turns into a completely different exercise when the last communication they receive is one that suggests Terran and AADD differences have escalated to outright conflict; here, too, Hayashi, presents the communities he uses in his stories in particularly interesting ways (and offers a nice twist or two).
       There's a great deal of technical detail in these stories that arguably bogs some of them down -- but which can also be appreciated for the fuller picture of the futuristic technology and conditions that Hayashi presents. Those not used to 'harder' science fiction may be a bit overwhelmed (or bored) by these bits, but even these can't detract from Hayashi's genuine storytelling talents. These are solid, understated (in science fiction terms, especially) stories in which he adeptly begins to put together a larger vision of the future and the cultures that will be exploring the cosmos -- all the while also slowly moving towards solving a larger scientific mystery (still barely more than hinted at here). One hopes that the rest of his AADD series will be made available in English, too; this is certainly a promising (and entertaining) foundation.

- M.A.Orthofer, 16 July 2013

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The Ouroboros Wave: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Hayashi Jyouji (林譲治) was born in 1962.

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© 2013 the complete review

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