Story employs a variety of stock tropes, as you would expect in a space opera. There are a few things, however, that were new to me:
- To be able to take shock of 10g acceleration during interplanetary travel, you "liquify" the human traveler! For star travel, you further "gassify" the protoplasm to better prepare for bigger shocks. And for inter-galactic travel, you further transform the gas into a living radiation being (radiation idea is, of course, quite old.)
- An alien signal that hypnotizes the human receiver to use him as a zombie or interacts with him in an individual-specific way is quite old. Author, however, puts it to novel uses I'd not seen before.
Story summary.A "macroscope" is two devices in one: a sort of infinite-resolution telescope with range across the galaxy; & a receiver of (alien) "broadcast" signals on various "macroscopic" bands. There are a variety of broadcasts available in aether, but two play a key role in the story:
- "Destroyer" fries the brains of anyone smart enough to comprehend the broadcast!
- "Traveler" seems to provide a lot of extremely useful information, provided you can get past "destroyer" (because "destroyer" signal is far too strong).
Fact sheet.First published: 1969.
Nominated for Hugo Award 1970 in novels category.
Related: Stories of Piers Anthony.