Just finished this. Was as thoroughly impressed as I was confused. Can anyone clear up some questions i have such as:
>the nature of the powers, where they come from and where they reside. (I know they are civs. that have advanced, but what path do they take to get there [metaphorically] )
>the location and path to the transcend and what is there
>the origin of the zones
>any more info on the Countermeasure and the Blight
also I am planning on reading The Forge of God by Greg Bear next, what do you guys think of this?
I also finished reading this today so I can try and give my own answers to these questions.
From what I can gather the Powers transcend only because they are in the transcend. The seem to be wiped out if they leave it. I know Pham Nuwen is an extension allowing a Power to operate beyond the Transcend. This is also what the Skoderiders are for the Blight. Early in the book there is a mention of there being a shift of a place in the Transcend shifting into the High Beyond while there was a meeting going on and most of the Powers in the galaxy were wiped out.
The Transcend is what we would call the galactic halo. Earth is right on the edge of the Slow Zone and of the Beyond and everything beyond that going outwards is the Beyond with three levels. Once the stars become very sparse and the edge of the galaxy is near and there is nothing further on the Transcend begins. It's naturally for civilisations to move there and that is what caused the issues with Straumli Realm as they moved in and were attacked by the Blight by bringing it to life after billions of years.
The origins of the Zones are unknown. There is speculation that the Countermeasure which the Out of Bound II is on a mission to collect is made by something beyond the transcend. The countermeasure has the power to change the Zones, which it does by several thousand light years in the end. You need to be of the transcend or at least have a relationship with the transcend like Pham Nuwen does to affect this change.
Interesting thoughts especially about the galactic halo/transcend.
So essentially what you are saying is that the Transcend is actually part of the galaxy? While reading I always assumed that the Transcend was simply what you ran into once you left the Galaxy.
In the book there is a small map at the beginning (pic related) that shows the three zones in the galaxy. With the Transcend not present, naturally i assumed it was the expanse outside of our galaxy.
I think it's part of the galaxy.The halo is a sort of misty thing in my mind which is anything outside of The Beyond and when you get out of the halo then you're no longer in the galaxy. That is where I think the Countermeasure comes from.
Pic related is now I see the halo in the galaxy. It extends quite far beyond the actual galaxy spherically which seems to be somewhat consistent with the image you posted. The Beyond in that images definitely stretches into what I would call the halo but there is a lot more of the halo beyond your image.
Did you also get the feeling that most species seem to develop in the slow zone and then move into the Beyond at a later date? Feels like they do when they talk of how planets tend to get recycled over time such as what happened to Sjandra Kei with the Dirokimes. Seems like a lot of civilizations do develop in the Beyond (like the Tines) but they are vastly outnumbered by ones coming out of the Slow Zone.
Are you saying that the Beyond is part of the halo while at the same time the Transcend encompasses the outermost reaches of the halo?
Originally I viewed the Countermeasure as a cheap deus ex machina given the sheer power of it to change the structure of the galaxy, but your theory about it coming from beyond the Galaxy does seem to make it more plausible.
Yes i did get that overtone as well. After the fall of Sjanda Kei I do recall that one of Ravna's concerns was that there might not be any humans left in the Beyond.
However there was a very subtle allusion which gave the impression that with the passage of time it would not matter, as humanity (along with millions of other races) would eventually trickle it's way out of the slow zone into the beyond once more.
So I think part of the Beyond is in the halo but it only makes up a very small part of the entire space of the halo. Your map, when looking down on the galaxy, shows that the Beyond goes round the edges of the galaxy but it still seems like there are a huge amount of stars outside this. Everything beyond this is, I think, the transcend and then once the transcend ends, which is where the halo ends, you get into where the Countermeasure probably came from. The origin of the zones are never explained so the Countermeasure could be something made by the creator of the zones. If that creator or species of creators (I guess they would be something going beyond a type 3 civilisation on the Kardashev scale) only works on the Milky Way or exerts similar forces on all galaxies, I don't know.
I do think that the transcend is quite sparse on planets (but maybe not stars) so creatures sort of have to line up and wait for a planet in a similar way to species coming out of the Slow Zone would have to wait for a planet to become available to share (Dirokimes were in decline and got to a point where they had basically lived their entire lives in dream states which is why they were receptive to sharing the planet with the Humans on Sjandra Kei). I think also Powers from the transcend have to judge you as worthy to transcend even though they aren't originally from there either.