Literature: The Gap Cycle

The Gap Cycle by Stephen R. Donaldson is a five part Science Fiction Epic, borrowing heavily from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. The setting is in a dystopian future where Earth is dependent on the resources of deep space and governed by a man who is in control of both the police [UMCP] and the biggest company in human history [UMC]. Most of the plot is driven by an Evil Plan of the UMCP director, seeking to undermine the control of the UMC CEO. The storyline follows several branches and perspectives which are brought together as more and more information is revealed about what is going on behind the scenes.


Contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream / Fate Worse Than Death: Bio-retributive cyborgs are people not only enslaved with zone implants, but Body Horror cases where they've been completely altered. One poor woman has massive breasts that she cuts off against her will with a dull blade - on a nightly basis.
  • Axe Crazy: A small percentage of the population experiences mental disturbances called "Gap sickness" after going through hyperspace. Symptoms vary from individual to individual, but they usually add up to Axe Crazy.
  • Consummate Liar: Hashi Lebwohl makes no psychological distinction between saying true things and false things.
  • Fiction500: Holt Fasner owns most bigger Enterprises, the Police and buys the World Governments' support whenever he needs it
  • Freudian Excuse: Angus Thermopyle's childhood was not pretty, and he'll do anything to avoid being in a position of being helpless again.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Angus's surname is pronounced Ther-mo-pi-lay. He gets very annoyed when Nick calls him Thermo-pile.
  • Living Lie Detector: Warden Dios's prosthetic eye enables him to read IR emissions and detect signs of stress associated with lying. (As described above, Hashi Lebwohl has no such stress, so is unreadable.)
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: A few pages of exposition explain why: Humanity's prejudices and fears (especially fear of the Amnion) have ensured that people haven't changed their biology. Holt Fastner isn't happy about this.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Most of humanity's corporations and half of the government are ruled by the United Mining Companies.
  • Power of Trust: Becauase Morn trusts Angus, her rapist, Warden decides to trust him too.
  • Recycled In SPACE: In the Author's Note at the end of the first book, Donaldson says that the books after the first one are a retelling of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
  • Reforged into a Minion: After the events of the first book, Angus Thermopyle is turned into a mind-controlled cyborg.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The economy of the world seems built on mining deep space, despite the fact that the asteroid belt in the solar system alone would fulfil Earth's needs for millions of years. An asteroid belt is not a place where you actually have to manoeuvre between rocks to avoid collision, since it's still pretty damn empty. The world was clearly built to allow for the plot, not to be logical from the logical point of view.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Also asteroid fields are dangerous reefs and starships manoeuvre much like sea vessels. Averted with hyperdrives and g-related issues.