This is an odd book. It starts with a long prologue that gives the evolutionary history of a machine race on Saturn’s moon Titan, from its inception with a damaged Von Neumann factory ship to mutation, sexual reproduction, competition, and the rise of diverse species and intelligence. Then it sets up a first contact situation between humanity and these machines. We in our spaceships, and they struggling to move past their own equivalent of the stone age.
There are also twin battles going on between science and mysticism. For the robots of Titan, there is a nascent movement towards science and observations, all the while struggling beneath an oppressive religious doctrine handed down in the sacred scribings of the Lifemaker. Meanwhile, amongst the humans, we have hardened scientists trying to expose the trickery of a new-age psychic who is in truth an incredibly talented con artist.
It was an interesting story, and I eventually enjoyed most of the characters, though the psychic bugged the hell out of me at first. I did find some of the storytelling mechanics hard to follow as we jumped from one setting to another and one POV to another with little visual or textual clue that it was happening. I wonder if this might have been the fault of the transfer to ebook, since this is an older book that came out on paper back in the 80’s. Either that, or it was just the way it was written.
It was a good ending in that everyone got what they deserved, so I came away pretty happy.