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Heaven Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446611034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446611039
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,373,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the distant future, a starfaring Neanderthal woman sits on a dock on the planet No-Moon, waiting to trade with the aquatic alien known as Second-Best Sailor. Her trading partner is late for their meeting, but that's not why Smiling Teeth May Bite is uneasy. May, like all Neanderthals, possesses a strong empathic gift and an impressive pattern-recognition talent. And her powers warn her that a grave, unnameable danger is heading for No-Moon.

The threat is worse than May can imagine. The starships of the Cosmic Unity fleet are hurtling toward No-Moon, bearing religious missionaries disseminating the Memeplex of Universal Tolerance throughout the galaxy. If the inhabitants of a new world decline to convert to Cosmic Unity, their decision is not tolerated.

Most readers won't be surprised by Cosmic Unity's bloody-minded missionary zeal, but Heaven offers some great surprises in its big ideas and its richly imagined alien races. Reminiscent of Hal Clement and Bruce Sterling, Heaven is a fun, thought-provoking, impressive example of classic sense-of-wonder science fiction. Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, considering the authors: Dr. Jack Cohen is a reproductive biologist and SF alien design consultant, and Dr. Ian Stewart is a professor of mathematics. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Intellectual playfulness and lively writing propel British authors Stewart and Cohen's second SF novel (after 2000's Wheelers), with its exuberant picture of a galaxy full of wildly different intelligent beings. Space is also littered with the potentially dangerous relics of the Precursors, an extinct race whose science was so advanced that it resembled magic. To keep these tools or weapons out of the wrong hands, the church of Cosmic Unity tries to join all races in peaceful cooperation. That's how Servant-of-Unity XIV Samuel sees the situation, even though nomadic Neanderthal star traders and aquatic natives of the planet No Moon distrust Cosmic Unity's methods. By the time Sam realizes that Cosmic Unity's version of heaven resembles a hell designed by Hieronymus Bosch, a lot of suffering has occurred and more is on the way. Since this is basically a novel of ideas, readers will forgive some underdeveloped characters and actions, as the authors focus on big, juicy chunks of extrapolation. Apparently the reverse of the old saying is true: for evil to triumph, it's only necessary for good men to try to do everything. Since that's an unfortunately timely message, the book is not just a satisfying brainteaser but actually might make readers think.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
About the best science fiction that I have read lately.
Roger Bagula
I would recommend this book as a perfect approach to understanding the interwoven nature of the world, universe, galaxies and more.
Jesse Mathewson
The characters are likeable but not much time is spent on character development.
Rachel Thern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Thern on February 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At the beginning of Heaven, a group of characters of various species are about to confront an unknown threat, a religion that presents itself as benevolent but leaves clues that it may not be. The religion, Cosmic Unity, with its centralized authority and its emphasis on the sacrifice of individual comfort for the greater good, has some similarities to both the Catholic Church and Communism. In Cosmic Unity's zeal to convert all sentient species in the galaxy, they have on occasion commited huge acts of violence against species that resist. Their version of the Golden Rule involves inflicting what they "know" to be in other's best interest, rather than what others would want for themselves. The authors blame these acts on church members' adherence to a virulent and flawed "memeplex" (as they call it), rather than on personal ethical failings, which could be argued either way.

The characters are likeable but not much time is spent on character development. The authors' strength is imagining the biology of many different species that could exist in the galaxy. Their weakness is in imagining different kinds of psychology. It doesn't make sense that a religion started in part by humans would appeal across such a wide spectrum of life forms while humans' closest relative, Neanderthals (rescued from Earth by sentient ships) would be the strongest holdouts. It is also not believable that so many beings would tolerate a religion where they are kept in the dark as to what the central authority is doing. The authors want to present the idea that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" when it could as easily be in this case "power corrupts".

Despite a failure of believability it's hard to totally dislike a book which has, halfway through the story, a scene in which a squid lost in a desert meets a sentient pond and they discuss the mind-body problem.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on June 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Heaven," by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, is a science-fiction novel of ideas. Its philosophical themes include the mimetics of religion, quantum-mechanical entanglement, and the ecology of mind. But this is no dry academic exercise: it takes the reader on a wild ride with an exciting plot, psychologically plausible characters, and a galaxy full of truly amazing aliens. If you are looking for well-written speculative fiction that tickles your brain cells, you'll really love this book!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on May 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
HEAVEN is about religion & ecology. Reminiscent of how the Spanish conquerors of the Incas & Aztecs decided that it was much to the Indians' benefit to be killed to save their immortal souls. Stewart's & Cohen's far distant future saga is the story of one such war, & how the parts are definitely fragments of a greater wholeness.
Rebeccasreads recommends HEAVEN as a riveting & enthralling science fiction story & like no other place you've ever imagined!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Johnston on September 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
An interesting second full-length fiction outing by the duo of Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, showing the same inventive form and easy style of their previous novel Wheelers, the Science of Discworld books that they co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, and their popular science works on chaos theory and alien evolution.

In Heaven the squid-like inhabitants of No-Moon are peacefully enjoying sailing their oceans and trading with visitors, blissfully unaware that the memeplex of Cosmic Unity has decided that their world is next to receive the bounteous Good News of peace and universal tolerance. At this point the real dominant intelligence of No-Moon takes a hand...

A skilled mix of character-driven and broad scale space opera, Heaven is full of the science-backed invention that has become a hallmark of the authors. Recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A spacial Jihad of a non-benevolent Cosmic Unity religion hits the world of Nomoon where a reef-coral intelligence rules. The resulting struggle brings together a band of races that resist being told what to think or believe by others. Things like an intelligent pond ecology and an aware galaxy turn the tide for some pretty alien thinking.
For a novel that takes place as much as 14 generations in the future
in a far area of space with Neanderthals as main characters,it is in the English tradition of hard science fiction that Clark started.
About the best science fiction that I have read lately. Some very strange ideas are brought up here.
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