Demon is the final book of The Gaea Trilogy and it brings the story to a very satisfying conclusion. Author John Varley is easily the most whimsical of all science fiction writers for the past 30 years and even though this series begins with its feet on the ground, it ends up tearing a hole in the sky.
In Demon, the planetary brain, Gaea, has reconstituted herself as a 50 foot tall image of Marilyn Monroe. She has created new subsets of creatures designed to serve her needs as a movie studio, moving about the countryside, scouting locations, milling timber, building sets and so forth. There are even small creatures called Bolexes and Panaflexes that can film events as they happen. So Gaea now has a roving studio moving across the wheel making movies.
Gaea has also started a war among the powers on Earth and as the number of nuclear explosions mount, it becomes apparent that Earth is going to destroy itself. Gaea helpfully begins evacuating humans to her wheel and using them in many insidious ways. Among the bizarre creatures that Gaea has created, there are religious zombies, which attack anyone at any time.
Rocky has become Gaea’s enemy and lives by hiding, moving from place to place, making allies among the creatures on the planet, such as the Titanides, a centaur like race whose sex is determined by front sexual organs, but who also have both sexes in the rear. The Titanides are the exact opposite of humans and possess all the skills to have a peaceful and loving civilization, but they have become caught up in the struggle against Gaea and are strong allies with Rocky. Chris, who became romantically involved with a Titanide female in <I>Wizard</I> is now turning into a Titanide himself, gradually. Robin, who returned to her Coven, returns now with a grown daughter (Chris is the father) and a baby boy. Through some genetic trick, Gaea has somehow managed to make Chris the father of Robin’s new baby boy, Adam. They were both immaculate conceptions.
Also, Gaby’s spirit has returned to help Rocky in her war against Gaea, who is now clearly insane. Rocky sets about raising an army from the destitute humans arriving from the ravaged Earth and the battle is pretty well set up.
It should be clear from much of the synopsis above that John Varley writes great, big and vibrant female characters. This is also a feature of his bizarre short stories.
But the most prominent aspect of his writing is the creativity and whimsy that he brings to the art. When he exploded on the SF scene in the late seventies, he was a tremendous breath of fresh air in a field that had become a little stagnated. More recently, after gaps in writing, he has produced fun SF that hearkens back to the early days of SF, while still keeping it modern and entertaining.
In reading this trilogy, however, it is great to reminded of the vitality, the pure wacky spirit that made his early work so much fun to read.
I highly recommend this novel and the entire trilogy.