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City at the End of Time Hardcover – August 5, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his triumphant return to large-scale SF, Nebula and Hugo–winner Bear (Quantico) links three young drifters in present-day Seattle with an unimaginably distant future. When the drifters answer an odd newspaper advertisement, they soon find themselves caught up in a war between mysterious and powerful forces. Two not-quite-humans, creations of a million-year experiment, have discovered that their ancient fortress/city, perhaps the last refuge of intelligence in a dying universe, is about to fall before the onslaught of chaos. They have been chosen by beings evolved far beyond mere matter to undertake a dangerous mission to preserve the universe's last vestiges of consciousness. Somehow the two groups engage in telepathic communication despite the eons that separate them. Something of an homage to William Hope Hodgson's classic The Night Land, this complex, difficult and beautifully written tale will appeal to sophisticated readers who prefer thorny conundrums to fast-paced action. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

In a post-human future, one city, guarded by reality generators and surrounded by the terrible maelstrom of Chaos, is the sole bastion of order. In our time, three people who can alter the course of fate, a murky past, and the dreams of a decaying city at the end of time are brought together by a newspaper ad and into the hands of collectors of their kind. Back in the future, the strange characters include keepers and the Librarian, who seek to protect history, and others who welcome Chaos. As the lines of fate and possibility collapse toward inevitability, the three fateshifters resort to the tenuous protection of a Seattle warehouse full of books as a storm that threatens to destroy everything approaches. If the trio survives and holds onto memory through the disaster, memory will begin again, the long decay of reality will end, and mysteries will be solved in the eye of the storm. Fascinating. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345448391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345448392
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Bear is the author of more than thirty books, spanning thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy, including Blood Music, Eon, The Forge of God, Darwin's Radio, City at the End of Time, and Hull Zero Three. His books have won numerous international prizes, have been translated into more than twenty-two languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Over the last twenty-eight years, he has also served as a consultant for NASA, the U.S. Army, the State Department, the International Food Protection Association, and Homeland Security on matters ranging from privatizing space to food safety, the frontiers of microbiology and genetics, and biological security.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Seel on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I very much wanted to like this book. It's not easy to summon up a believable city one hundred trillion years from now. Greg Bear's multiverse is collapsing into terminal degeneracy as the Chaos intrudes upon the last city - the Kalpa - on a twisted surreal earth.

In present-day Seattle, characters Jack, Ginny and Daniel possess "sum runners", mysterious Feynmanesque stones which will eventually be found to code the innermost ordering principles of reality. But our heroes have lost all memory of their origins, and spend their lives flitting between alternative realities of the multiverse, in endless flight from ill-defined threats.

Ten to the fourteen years out, the male warrior Jebrassy and female explorer Tiadba are groomed to leave the Kalpa for a one-way journey through the Chaos to the mythical city of Nataraja - somehow this is the Kalpa's last and best hope. Jebrassy and Jack, and Tiadba and Ginny, are psychologically linked through the Terayears and will physically meet at the novel's climax, when the universe may, or may not, be cyclically renewed.

Bear has ransacked Greek, Hindu and Buddhist mythologies for this story, along with a light dusting of quantum mechanics. Typhon, the personification of Chaos, is the Greek Satan-like figure; Nataraja is the dancing posture of the Hindu God Shiva, lord of destruction/transformation; in Buddhism, a great kalpa is 1.28 trillion years long.

OK, so does it all work? I personally found it hard work. The book is dense with repetitious description of chaotic landscapes, which sap the reader's patience. For much of the time the main characters are engaging in relatively mundane activities or trying to get from one place to another in situations devoid of much tension.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In some ways, this book harks back to some works like Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, dealing as it does with an incredibly vast sweep of time and across the bounds of the entire cosmos (and beyond). At the same time, embedded within it are some of the latest thoughts and theories about just what makes universe be what it is, from quantum entanglement, the many universes concept, to observer based determination of what the world is and will be.

It starts in the incredibly far future, and the described situation at this starting point is intriguing as we see what's left of humanity (or human-like beings) confined to a small area and fighting a losing battle with Chaos. This early section may be the best part of this book, as everything is weird and new, and hints at the history and genesis of the current situation are dropped into the descriptions of this very odd environ, making for an absorbing interaction between reader and words.

Interspersed with this far-future world is the second major thread of this novel, as we return to the world of today and follow three very unique individuals as they try to figure out just where they fit in the world, why they are being hunted (and by what), what they can do with their special abilities, and just what the connection is between these people and those of the far future.

Up to this point, all very good. But as we proceed deeper into this work, problems appear. First is the language used to describe the Chaos.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kamila Z. Miller on November 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It took me a bit to warm up to this novel, as it does with any that switch point of view characters often. Also, similar to Jay Lake's "Trial of Flowers" I had a tough time trusting the author enough to become involved with the many unsympathetic characters. And yet, like the Jay Lake work, I was fascinated by them. Predatory, sometimes weak, they nonetheless all developed a (sometimes macabre) charm that made me care about what they would do next, and those characters surprised me at times. The descriptions were hazy, but I filled them in from my own imagination, sometimes based on my reading in physics. I was always delighted when something familiar, either in physics theory or from myth, presented itself. And therein lies the beauty of this work. I guess I've grown tired of having everything spelled out for me. I liked moving in realms that left enough to my imagination that I could be an active reader.

It did have some repetitive elements that detracted from the overall experience, but looking at it from a structural standpoint I'm not sure that the repetition was avoidable. I would have liked to have seen more variety nonetheless. I think, like the characters, at some points Mr. Bear grew fatigued with the immensity of the universe and the contortions he put it through. Also, much as I like some of the heroes in this work, the importance placed on these elements/sets of things seemed a little too transparently aimed at me as a marketing tool rather than making actual sense. But I was willing to buy into it so that I could discover the true nature of the Chaos, Typhon, etc. or at least get enough hints to develop my own satisfying ideas about those things.
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