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Shipstar: A Science Fiction Novel Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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"The story is a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures."―Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm a life-long Niven fan and I have enjoyed Benford, especially his Galactic Centre novels, and so I was expecting more. I've tried to figiure out why Shipstar and it's forerunner, Bowl of Heaven, haven't worked as well as they might and I can only come to the conclusion that as collaborators they weren't able to quite gell.
The story isn't too bad, but it never reaches any really sort of inventiveness, we've seen all this before. And the plot is pretty ordinary. That said, there's somewhere to explore and one or two of the characters are more interesting than I previously thought.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the read, but not as much as I'd have liked.
I just hope that Niven has one more gem up his sleeve before he has to hang up his writing 'boots'; maybe a stand alone, written by him, exploring some very strange galactic location, or one final collaboration with Pournelle... One can dream.
Any sci-fi that pushes the boundaries of basic concepts gets my attention. Shipstar does that on many levels with theory made manifest, a crisp narrative, and reasonably well developed characters. The book is carried by the author's extrapolations into far future technology, the fringes of today's theoretical speculation.
This is a step function change-up on the static dynamics of the Dyson-sphere or Ringworld-like constructs. Shipstar is an ancient, dynamically integrated sun and semi-sphere relic ... thus ... the `Shipstar'. The relic is propelled through the galaxy using the star as the engine. The Shipstar has magnanimously collected whole civilizations into its near-Earth habitable construct where there exists sentient rules and hierarchy. The relic has the surface area of tens of thousands of Earths and remains only sparsely inhabited by the relic's strange collection of 'adopted' life forms.
The human ship that stumbles up on the relic is a deep space expedition that happens on the relic.Read more ›
Regardless, though, these two volumes are in fact one Big Smart Object, with a lot of what passes for the plot being discussions of how the Bowl (an incredibly massive object that cruises the galaxy) works, and how a jet from its accompanying star is generated and controlled. The characters fade into the background as the technical ideas flow, and then Benford and Niven add more and more aliens to the mix to further muddy the waters, and distance the reader from the supposed protagonists.
Then again, folks don't buy Benford/Niven books for nuanced characters and subtle shades of emotion -- those who have bought Benford/Niven books in the past, though, know what to expect.
But... the story is rather repetitive, which the authors telling you the same thing multiple times. The authors also seem to have forgotten what the characters learned on several occasions, as well.
There is lot of speculation on how things evolved in the book, but unfortunately, not only is that speculation beside the point, but in many cases, it does not reflect current thinking by evolutionary biologists. The books would have been much better without this... and shorter.
The authors also state that evidence of a technic civilization over 100 million years ago would be wiped out by subduction. Uh, basic geology disagrees with that. Not all tectonic plates will subduct. Just think about it ()minor spoiler): if all tectonic plates subducted, then we would not have any fossils of dinosaurs or anything before them... but we do. and lots of fossils.... even going back to the pre-cambrian. Some of those fossils are amazingly detailed, allowing us to see the impression of the skin of animals.
Given that Gregory Benford is a university professor, i would have expected a LOT better; e.g., if he just attended some introductory courses at the University where he works, he would not have made so many BASIC mistakes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Character Development was nill. Ended up not finishing the book because I just did not care about the characters. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Jim Robinson
First of all Greg Benford has no business writing SCI-FI. He should be writing Romance. He loves to fill his prose with flowery phrases that just take up space. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Van A Palmer
Great story. Ideas very good. Both writers are some of my favorites. Was not surprised it was all I expected.Published 2 months ago by b.conrad
I usually like Larry Niven alone, but this book is AWESOME!! IT WILL MAKE YOU WISH YOU COULD DOWNLOAD IT TO YOUR BRAIN!!Published 3 months ago by K. Peterson
A poor sequel to the original. I knew I was in trouble when, in the first couple of pages, instantly the humans now completely understood the alien language after finding a special... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike
Not a bad story. I'd recommend the book. But it wasn't the powerful, read-it-to-your-friends exciting story that some of Benford's and Niven's books have been. Read morePublished 4 months ago by David S. Brumley
I'm usually a big fan of hard sci-fi but this book was really focused on the physics of starship propulsion and navigation. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Diane Wallingford