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Literature / Giants Series

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The Man On The Moon Was Dead
— Back cover blurb for Inherit the Stars

The Giants Series is a 5-book series by James P. Hogan. Scientists at a lunar base find a dead body hidden in a cave, only to discover that the body is 50,000 years old. The first book covers the research into where the body came from, and how it got there. Later books cover interactions with an alien species referred to as the Ganymeans (as they were first discovered on a ship that had crashed on Jupiter's moon Ganymede) and a hidden conspiracy that has controlled much of human history.

The books in the series are:

  • Inherit The Stars (1977): Hogan's first book, written for a bet.
  • The Gentle Giants of Ganymede (1978)
  • Giants' Star (1981)
  • Entoverse (1991)
  • Mission To Minerva (2005)

The first four books have been collected into two omnibus volumes called The Two Moons and The Two Worlds. A manga adaptation of the first book was published as Hoshi O Tsugu Mono.

Because so much of the series revolves around major revelations from the first book, marking spoilers below leaves the examples looking like Swiss cheese. For that reason, spoilers are unmarked.

The series provides examples of:

  • The Ageless: The Thuriens achieved this, and then found that it caused them to stagnate, so they gave up on it.
  • Alien Geometries: The Entoverse. The dimensions and shape of an object are affected by its motion, so (for example) constrained circular motion is impossible.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted by the crew of the Shapieron; we get to watch ZORAC learning English. Justified for the Thuriens and Jevlenese, through their monitoring of Earth, but they don't speak English directly - VISAR and JEVEX translate for them.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Justified Trope. The native Minervan land animals had no predators, so they were generally brightly colored; one is described as bright blue with pink stripes. Earth researchers finding a room decorated with them initially thought they had found a nursery with cartoon Funny Animals. Deconstructed later; when Earth predators were imported, it was a slaughter that gave Earth prey species enough time to grow their numbers to survive.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Ganymeans carried humans to Minerva and uplifted them slightly, and the Jevlenese posed as deities to manipulate their arch-enemies on Earth and other races.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Jevlenese, who have been trying to control Earth since prehistoric days.
  • Apocalypse How: Class X, as Minerva is destroyed along with the vast majority of the humans from its evolutionary line.
  • Artifact Name: In-universe. The Lunarians are so-called because the first example (Charlie) was found on the moon. The Ganymeans, similarly, were first found on Ganymede. Both of them, arguably, should be called Minervans, for the world they both lived on.
  • Artificial Gravity: A key part of Ganymean science, and taken to 11 by the Thuriens, who use it to generate microscopic black holes that they spin to create wormholes.
  • Artificial Intelligence: ZORAC is a genius compared to modern computers, and VISAR and JEVEX are orders of magnitude more powerful.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: In Inherit the Stars, Hunt and Danchekker particularly seem to specialize in this, but really the entire NavComms team qualifies. They start with a dead body in a spacesuit, and from that and a few other clues they reconstruct an entire civilization as well as the planet it inhabited.
  • Backup Bluff: The entirety of the Thurien "attack" in Giants' Star. Estordu realizes the truth just after it's too late.
    "It never existed, any of it. They were doing it through the Shapieron all the time.... We're running away from a single unarmed ship."
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Many religious and political leaders were working for the Jevlenese.
  • Benevolent Boss: Gregg Caldwell, head of NavComms and the person who hires Vic Hunt to manage the investigation into Charlie.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: The Thuriens let the Jevlenese think their destruction of the Shapieron succeeded, giving them enough rope to hang themselves.
  • Blunder-Correcting Impulse: Discussed and averted by the Ganymeans, as an example of how alien they are.
    [A Ganymean] could stand and watch another perform a task that he knew he could do better, and say nothing—a feat almost impossible for most Earthmen.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: JEVEX is able to prevent VISAR from getting any ships near Jevlen, because it can neutralize any portals VISAR attempts to open. However, the Shapieron predates the portal technology, and is self-powered and self-contained, so it can go in.
  • The Captain: Garuth. He makes the tough calls, up to and including taking his ship and all of his people away from Earth because he feels it's the right thing to do.
  • The Casanova: Vic Hunt, starting around halfway through book 2. At the start of book 3, he's sleeping with his boss's secretary.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The neural links in the perceptron work perfectly for humans. This is a key for helping the Earthlings realize that the Thuriens have worked with humans before.
  • Clueless Boss: Broghuilio, leader of the Jevlenese. He thinks he's an incredibly clever leader for being able to trick the Thuriens - a race that is almost guileless. Earth humans proceed to run rings around him.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • The Shapieron just happens to slow down enough to shut off their main drive a few months after Earthlings have discovered the crashed ship on Ganymede, instead of at any other time; indeed, it's just after the Earthlings manage to accidentally activate a Ganymean emergency beacon, which sends the Shapieron to Ganymede instead of to Earth or the asteroid belt that once was Minerva.
    • The Shapieron arrives at Ganymede just as Vic Hunt happens to be up on Jupiter Five, getting a tour of the command center, so that he can be involved with the first contact.
    • The probe that went through the wormhole with the Jevlenese leaders just happened to end up in a stable orbit, just happened to survive 50,000 years, and just happened to be in a position to intercept the Earthlings' message to Gistar.
  • Cool Ship: Escalating through the series. Inherit the Stars has Jupiter Five. Gentle Giants has the Shapieron. Played with in Giants' Star with the perceptron, which looks like a standard Boeing 1017 aircraft but has the neural links Earth needs to communicate with Thurien.
  • Crapsack World: Minerva, before the Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Two opposed superpowers, both focusing all of their resources into getting their people to Earth while making sure their enemy doesn't.
  • Crossword Puzzle: A British-style cryptic crossword is used to sneak information to Ganymede.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Ganymean architecture seems to run toward this.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Step one of the assault on Sverenssen's house.
  • Deadpan Snarker: ZORAC and VISAR - apparently it's a common trait for Ganymean computers. Vic Hunt has a bit of it as well.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Niels Sverenssen. This appears to be a common, or at least not-unusual, technique used by the Jevlenese on Earth.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Many of these among the Jevlenese on Earth, including Sverenssen.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: A phone-repair truck, allegedly there to repair the Cut Phone Lines, is part of the attack on Sverenssen's house.
  • Determinator: Koriel, who we see in the prologue facing down the universe and snarling at it. This becomes the hat of humans compared to Ganymeans.
  • Distant Prologue: The prologue of Inherit the Stars is set 50,000 years before the rest of the book. The prologue of Gentle Giants of Ganymede is set 25 million years before the rest of the book.
  • Doing Research: This is basically the entire plot of Inherit the Stars. A group of scientists are given a body and told to figure out who he was, where he came from, and how he could have been found on the Moon - in a spacesuit - when his body is fifty thousand years old. The story of how they figure out the answers to these questions is an excellent example of the scientific method in action: research, study, experimentation, right guesses, wrong guesses, arguments, expected discoveries, unexpected discoveries, one or two intuitive leaps, and a heaping helping of pure luck.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The ultimate fate of Minerva, with part of it becoming the asteroid belt and the core becoming Pluto.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Lunarians saw this coming due to the ice age, and saw that their only hope was to relocate to Earth. Similarly, the Ganymeans saw this coming much earlier, and looked at alternatives, eventually deciding to abandon the solar system entirely.
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: Subverted, as the Jevlenese deliberately slowed human progress for many centuries.
  • Everybody Smokes: The books reflect the time they were written in with pretty much all of the characters smoking, including while traveling on planes and space ships.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Jevlenese assume that the "Cerians" (Earth humans) would do the same to them if the situations were reversed.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The USSR is still around long after it fell in real life.
  • The Finicky One: Danchekker starts off this way, but mellows a bit over time after spending time with Hunt.
  • First Contact: The plot of the second book, with the Ganymeans. And the third book, with the Thuriens. And the fourth book, with the Ents.
  • Flying Car: Common background elements on Earth. Early in the first book, the protagonists rent a flying car to get from San Francisco to Portland, and then take it down to Houston.
  • The Future Will Be Better: The world at the beginning of the series is a peaceful place where military forces have been disbanded.
  • Gargle Blaster: The Ganymeans bring along their own form of alcohol, referred to as GTB - the Ganymean Time Bomb, named because the effects don't really kick in until a couple hours after drinking. The GTB and Coke is invented shortly thereafter, to the mutual enjoyment of both species.
  • Gaslighting: The goal of the Internal Retcon, making the Jevlenese leadership think they're going mad and forcing them to act before they're fully prepared.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: The Thuriens truly have no idea what the Jevlenese are up to. Even the idea that the Jevlenese might be up to something underhanded is completely foreign to them.
  • Handsome Lech: Niels Sverenssen, who seduces a member of the Bruno staff to sneak his extra messages into the transmitter.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Verikoff, after being caught, turns against the Jevlenese and helps distract JEVEX long enough for VISAR to take control.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: The Ganymeans are herbivores, and very welcoming people.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Ganymeans, their descendants the Thuriens, and the Jevlenese they gave technology to. Ganymean technology includes intelligent computers and faster-than-light drives, and Thurien technology goes up from there.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sverenssen and his group at Bruno can't help but mock Norman Pacey and tell him what they're going to do to sabotage him, giving Sobroskin time to track down the faked dossier and minutes and replace them with the real ones.
  • Human Aliens: The Jevlenese, humans with access to Ganymean technology.
  • Humanity Came From Space: Crossed with Transplanted Humans - hominids from Earth were brought to Minerva and evolved into homo sapiens there, then some of them returned to Earth.
  • Humanity Is Insane: The view of at least some of the Ganymeans and Thuriens, because they come from a much less aggressive species on a world where predation was unknown among land-dwelling species.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Ganymeans are in awe of how quickly Earth humans advanced, and Lunarians were even faster.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played with. Initially, it appears that Lunarians (Minervan humans) were even bigger bastards than Earth humans. Then it comes out that we were manipulated into being bastards by the Jevlenese. Then it comes out that the Lambians - ancestors of the Jevlenese - were taken over by time-lost Jevlenese as part of a time loop. Then it comes out that Jevlenese leadership being bastards is due to being taken over by beings from the Entoverse, ultimately subverting the trope.
  • Humorless Aliens: Totally subverted. The Ganymeans have a good sense of humor, and their computers tend toward the Deadpan Snarker.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The solutions to the crossword puzzle by which Vic Hunt sends instructions to Jupiter Five are almost all puns.
  • Idiot Ball
    • Much of the plot of the third book could have been bypassed if the humans hadn't been idiots at the end of the second book. The humans send a message on the path to Gistar, telling them about the Shapieron. They get a response back almost immediately. Then they spend 2 days decrypting it before sending a message to Ganymede that they've gotten a reply. The Shapieron had left 17 minutes before the message arrives at Ganymede, meaning they had 2 days to send a message to Ganymede saying, "Hey, we got a response, when the Shapieron gets there can you let them know?"
    • The Thuriens let the Jevlenese take over all surveillance of their hated enemies, the Earth humans who are the descendants of the Cerians.
    • The Thuriens also let the Jevlenese pose as gods for other species that haven't yet achieved space travel, and can't imagine why this could be a bad idea.
    • The Jevlenese don't realize that the reason JEVEX is suddenly reporting a massive Thurien/Earthling joint military force is because VISAR has taken over JEVEX's core processing until it's too late.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Zigzagged. In Inherit the Stars, humanity has achieved strategic disarmament (ie, no more nukes or big armies) and world peace. In The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, the human predilection for combat of all kinds is a complete shock to the Ganymeans of the Shapieronnote , and makes them worry that humankind is incurably insane. However, the friendliness that the humans show to the Ganymeans reassures them, and they conclude that perhaps Homo sapiens is slowly evolving away from that insanity and into something more normal by Ganymean standards. In Giants' Star, the Jevlenese turn out to be planning a revolt against the Ganymeans, followed by wars of conquest throughout known space. Finally, the Ganymeans and the Earth-humans both discover that neither humankind's love of war nor the sudden disarmament are natural occurrences. Both were imposed on Earth's humans by the Jevlenese - who were themselves influenced by entities from the Entoverse. (It gets complicated. There's Time Travel involved.)
  • Infodump: Oh so many. The first two chapters dump information on the setting, then there's a dump on the Trimagniscope, and it only continues from there.
  • Inside a Computer System: The Entoverse is an odd one, as it's an emergent effect unrelated to the processing systems. VISAR and JEVEX's normal operations play it much straighter.
  • Internal Retcon: Once VISAR takes over JEVEX, JEVEX's reports on the state of Earth's military become this.
  • Logic Bomb: Verikoff's ultimatum to Broghuilio acts as one on JEVEX, making its systems stutter enough for VISAR to take over.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: VISAR and JEVEX can become self-inflicted versions, with people staying in virtual worlds of pleasure.
  • Names Given to Computers: ZORAC, VISAR, and JEVEX all get all-caps names, implying they're acronyms of some sort, but we never find out more. ZORAC may be inspired by Automatic Computer-type names.note 
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Thuriens show up and save the remaining humans, both Cerians and Lambians, after the destruction of Minerva. To keep them separated, the Cerians choose to go to Earth, while the Lambians (the aggressor side of the war) go with the Thuriens. Integrating the Lambians is difficult enough that the Thuriens are too busy to help when Earth captures Luna, causing devastation that regresses the Cerians back to Stone Age levels. Then they put the Lambians/Jevlenese in charge of surveillance over their arch-enemies.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Jesus alone of major religious figures is specifically mentioned as not working for the Jevlenese, although they did take over the church afterwards.
  • Odd Couple: Hunt and Danchekker, the brilliant-but-casual iconoclastic researcher and the equally-brilliant but extremely conventional biologist. They spend the first book at almost-constant loggerheads, then (thanks to some deft handling by their boss) begin to connect and realize that their similarities outweigh their differences - and moreover, that working together makes their work go a lot smoother. By the end of the first book they're working together with nary a whine or whimper, and eventually the relationship develops into a full-blown Odd Friendship.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Jevlenese leadership realizes that the entire Thurien/Earth attack is a fake...just as they get sucked into a distorted wormhole.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Subverted strongly; Hunt is knowledgeable in many scientific fields, but by the middle of the first book he is less a scientist and more a coordinator: he talks to the specialists, sees connections between their work and the work of other specialists, and makes sure that vital information gets shared between the different research teams.
  • One World Order: A benevolent one, where the United Nations acts as a unifying government after the world has given up on military forces. Individual governments still exist, however.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The Annihilator base at Seltar was using its radiation projector to do this to bases on Minerva. It's implied that these hits were part of what led to Minerva's destruction.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Ganymeans, and the Lunarians. Earthmen would have too if the Jevlenese hadn't deliberately fostered religion to hold back their rivals.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The Shapieron needs to do this on an interplanetary basis when their test causes the star Iscaris to go nova.
  • Powered by a Black Hole: The Ganymeans use spinning artificial singularities to power their ships. The Thuriens take it to a higher level, using the spinning singularities to create portals through space and time; large portals to carry people and ships, or tiny portals to carry information and power. They generate the immense amounts of power that their civilization needs with stellar-scale artificial black holes.
  • Precursors: The Ganymeans fit all of the characteristics of them until their descendants, the Thuriens, make contact with Earthlings, and it becomes apparent that they're still around.
  • Psychological Projection: Sverenssen and his fellow Jevlenese agents try to plant evidence that Heller and Pacey were carrying on, and had sabotaged the communication with the Thuriens, when Sverenssen was sleeping around and had been leading the sabotage.
  • Radio Silence: When the Thuriens contact Earth, they insist nothing about it go over radio transmissions of any sort, because they know the Jevlenese are listening.
  • Science Hero: Vic Hunt is a genius inventor and scientist who gets tasked with making connections between all the research groups.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The premise of Mission To Minerva, going back in time to prevent the Cerian-Lambian war in the first place.
  • Space Elves: The Ganymeans are an ancient, long-lived race of cautious nine-foot-tall vegetarians.
  • Stable Time Loop: The Jevlenese attempting to escape at the end of Giants' Star go back in time and become the leaders of the Lambians, starting the war.
  • Starfish Aliens: The psychological kind. The Ganymeans/Thuriens evolved in an ecosystem that had no predators, so they are completely lacking in the fight-or-flight instincts that shape human behavior. On top of that, for early Ganymeans, "caution" was the watchword, because even a minor injury could result in death by self-poisoning. On the other hand, the Ganymeans won't let anything stand in the way of acquiring knowledge - the Shapieron's original mission was to experiment with a method of controlling the solar constant — something no Earth-human would dare attempt, even as an experiment on another star.
  • Storming the Castle
    • The Shapieron, alone, against Jevlen.
    • American troops taking over Sverenssen's house, with Lyn's help distracting him.
  • Straw Political: In-universe, a minor character goes into virtual reality to pretend to prosecute straw versions of their political enemies. The character appears to be one to the reader.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Ganymeans can seem this way, with their computers able to perform nigh-magical tasks.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Broghuilio seems to think he is, at least.
    "Imbeciles! IMBECILES! You IM-BE-CILES!"
  • Technology Porn: The first couple chapters of Inherit the Stars. Hunt and Grey fly from London to San Francisco in about two hours on a suborbital flight, make a Video Phone call from Grey's briefcase computer to reserve a rental Flying Car, and use the rental to fly up to Portland and then down to Houston with autopilot and streaming video.
  • Time Dilation: The crew of the Shapieron spent 25 million years orbiting the Sol system, dilated at a million-to-one ratio.
  • Transplanted Humans: After the destruction of Minerva, the Thuriens transplanted the Cerians to Earth and the Lambians to one of their own planets, Jevlen.
  • United Space of America: The UN Space Arm as described is heavily American in nature.
  • Uplifted Animal: Downplayed, but all Earth animals brought to Minerva were genetically engineered in a way that accidentally increased intelligence. Including humans.
  • Video Phone: Of course. Hunt uses one built into his briefcase to reserve a rental Flying Car in the first chapter.
  • Walking Spoiler: The very name given to the series, even. The Giants are the Ganymeans, and knowing that there's another alien race involved makes the mystery of the first book a lot less mysterious.
  • We Didn't Start the Führer: Hitler was probably working for the Jevlenese, as were many other tyrants through history.
  • We Will Not Have Appendixes in the Future: The Ganymeans genetically modified themselves to remove their secondary circulatory system, which had evolved into a poisonous defense mechanism. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as they hoped.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Completely averted. JEVEX creates massive amounts of fake surveillance footage of the false Earth history it feeds VISAR and the Thurians. VISAR returns the favor with false Earth/Thurien alliance surveillance footage.
  • We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: NavComms.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The first book sets up Vic Hunt and Rob Grey as a team who have worked together for years. Hunt gets an offer to jump to NavComms and Rob Grey vanishes from the book entirely.
  • Zeerust: Relatively little, but there is some. Early on, a character uses a "briefcase computer" (laptop) to reserve a Flying looking up the phone number of a rental car place, manually dialing the number, calling the rental car company using the briefcase's built-in Video Phone, and talking to the attractive young woman at the other end.