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The Peninsular War: A New History
Charles J. Esdaile
Progress: 369/640 pages

An entertaining sequel to a sci-fi classic

The Fall of Colossus - D.F. Jones

D. F. Jones’s tale of a computer’s takeover of the world picks up five years from where his previous novel, Colossus, left off. Having replaced itself with a more advanced system of its own design, Colossus is now established as the unchallenged overlord of humanity. From its sprawling complex on the Isle of Wight, the computer has eliminated poverty and developed naval war games fought between automated battleships as an outlet for international aggression.  Having ended famine and war, a growing cult called the Sect worships Colossus as a god.  Charles Forbin, the creator of the first Colossus, now serves the computer and is reconciled to his rule, yet a resistance movement called the Fellowship conspires to bring Colossus’s reign to an end.

 

Among the leading members of the Fellowship is Forbin’s own wife, Cleo.  One morning while taking her son to a secluded beach, she receives a radio transmission from Mars offering to help destroy Colossus.  Though skeptical, she contacts Blake, Colossus’s Director of Input and the leader of the Fellowship.  Together they collect the information requested I the mysterious transmission, but Cleo is arrested by Sect and imprisoned.  With nowhere else to turn, Blake uses Cleo’s capture to enlist Forbin’s help to complete the instructions in the transmission and get the information necessary to destroy Colossus.  Yet as Forbin accomplishes his mission, it quickly becomes apparent that Colossus is not the only threat facing humanity . . .

 

Jones’s novel is an enjoyable sequel up to his first book, a minor classic of science fiction.  While plagued with some glaring continuity errors (and containing a rather disgusting "traumatized victim falls for rapist" subplot that dates the book even more than the technology references), it compensates for it by the author’s description of Colossus’s global management, with peace tempered by a secret police and experimentation and torture inflicted on dissidents as part of the computer’s effort to understand human emotion.  Fans of the original novel will find it an entertaining book, one that fulfills the speculations made at the end of the first book while setting the stage for the concluding volume in the trilogy.