From Publishers Weekly
Fifteen years ago, Benford's Timescape set the tone for the subgenre of "hard" science fiction that deals with quantum effects and particle physics, the discoveries and theories of which often make their fictional expressions seem more akin to fantasy than to traditional SF. Now, with this sixth and concluding volume of his Galactic Center series, Benford, a physicist himself, takes the form to either its apotheosis or its death knell. Though replete with fascinating ideas and exhilarating events that are, for the most part, elucidated with skill, the novel contains several chapters that may confound even readers who have followed the adventures of Nigel Walmsley since his initial appearance in 1977. Walmsley begins by relating his escapades to Toby Bishop, whose family is proceeding toward its destiny in the long-standing battle between organic and mechanical life-forms. The Bishop family and Walmsley are aided or impeded by several other life-forms whose roles and goals in the quest for ultimate survival are central to the story. While a reader's tenacity?which is what sets humans apart from others in Benford's conception of the universe?is occasionally tested, this novel stands as a worthy conclusion to what now should be acknowledged as the most important and involving hard SF series yet written.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the sixth novel of his Galactic Center epic, Benford brings the series to a dramatic close with a peek into humanity's future 37,000 years hence. Nigel Walmsley, twentieth-century Earth's first starship traveler, who figured in the saga's first installment, In the Ocean of Night
(1977), returns to recount recent adventures inside the Esty, an anomalous shelter of space-time existing outside a black hole near the galaxy's true center. Walmsley's listener is Toby Bishop, the adolescent protagonist of Furious Gulf
, whose family and fellow humans have been decimated by an insidious, machine-based life-form known as the mechs. Together, Walmsley, Toby, and the remnants of Toby's family must find the means to outwit the mechs before they penetrate the Esty and destroy all trace of humanity. Benford makes up for his somewhat pedantic prose with a wealth of fascinating scientific speculation in a dazzling finish to one of the best hard-sf sagas ever written. Carl Hays