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Tides of Light (Galactic Center) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Book 4 of 6 in the Galactic Center Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fleeing the mech civilization that has decimated the human population of the planet Snowglade, Cap'n Killeen leads Family Bishop to a distant world only to become embroiled in another human-alien conflict in which the sides are not so neatly drawn. This sequel to Great Sky River continues the adventures of a courageous group of survivors. Quick pacing and startling imagery produce a welcome mixture of action and speculation. Recommended.-- JC
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. and in 1995 received the Lord Prize for contributions to sciences. His research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel Timescape. Dr. Benford makes his home in Laguna Beach, California.
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Product Details

  • Series: Galactic Center (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446611549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446611541
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The "Great Sky River" series eschews the traditional science fiction device of portraying human beings as creatures apparently inferior to greater alien intelligences, yet having some indefinable superiority. How many stories, particularly as found in "Analog", have you read where humanity or an intrepid human explorer tricks superior (intellectually speaking) aliens by some sort of street smarts or idiosyncratic human trait ? Don't go looking for that smugness here. Fifty years ago John W Campbell challenged his writers to "show him a creature that thinks as well as a man only differently", but Benford has demolished the idea of mere equality in intellectual power between humans and aliens. The mechs and cyborg intelligences in this series are drawn as well as non-human aliens can be, their motivations and capabilities (as well as thought processes) are described without lapsing into merely "jazzing up" human characteristics. Benford's aliens are aliens in mind as well as physique and no reader can fathom their true nature. Benford's humans are hunter-gathers, appropriating technologies and materials they can not create themselves. William Tenn's description of humans as " rats in the walls" is carried to an extreme in "Tides of Light". Family Bishop merely dodges incomprehensible aliens and forces before fortune steers them to the next instalment. Benford has made an elegiac vision of the future, incorporating grandeur like Arthur C Clarke in "The City and The Stars" with a mysterious plot. The aliens are ALIEN and the humans are so different in physical nature amd cultural millieu as to be almost unbelievable. Strongly recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Author Benford is a professional physicist, and it shows perhaps the most in this fourth novel of the galactic center series. The others: "In the Ocean of Night" (1977), "Across the Sea of Suns" (1984), "Great Sky River" (1987), "Furious Gulf" (1994), and "Sailing Bright Eternity" (1995) also rely on his scientific background and poetic language, but "Tides of Light" is the one where he manages to put his hero on a classic free-fall trajectory through the center of a planet, a situation imagined in richer detail than you've ever seen it before.

The novels are grouped in two's - the third, "Great Sky River", introduces us to Killeen Bishop and his clan, human scavengers in the dominant central galactic machine civilization some 30,000 years in the future. "Tides of Light" continues the story of Killeen, now captain of the Bishop clan, landing on a new planet with fascinating new alien life-forms imagined in realistic physical and mental detail. These mechanically augmented myriapodia, large many-legged burrowing insect-like creatures, skilfully manipulate the most exotic physical element in the series: a planet-sized cosmic string. The myriapodia use their cosmic string to burrow through entire planets, extracting the metal-rich cores to weave artificial structures on the scale of entire solar systems.

Part of the fascination of the story is the state of the humans here - good at surviving, but fearfully low in skills and abilities, and filled with knowledge of decline from a much more prosperous state. Fighting not just the myriapodia and the machines, but fellow humans led by a despotic leader, Benford manages to couple exciting action with insights into human nature, singly and in groups.
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By A Customer on February 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Gregory Benford is one of the few authors who don't betray science in their science-fiction. No Star Wars or Star Trek-like anthropocentrist grotesqueries in his Galactic Centre saga : the human "heroes", led and pushed rather than self-guided through our ruthless Milky Way, are little more than feral hunter-gatherers confronted to all-emcompassing alien plots. And this, even as they are routinely described as using technologies far beyond any cyberpunk gizmo ; in fact, Benford's complex and consistent characters face mind-staggering challenges, their own cultural inheritance being one amongst many. Even the classical galactic-scale plots found in Dune or the Foundation series are utterly reduced to naught compared with the (very) long-term projects of the past and present intelligences competing in Benford's universe. Now go and read this book, along with the five others in the series !
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tides of Light - Gregory Benford [642 - Novel - SF - 09-22-2015]

"Tides of Light" is a direct sequel to his novel "Great Sky River" in fact you can go from the last page of one book to the first page of the other and pick right up on the story. In "Tides of Light" the first human settlers on the planet Snowglade espoused a live and let-live attitude towards the machine aliens - think intelligent road graders and mining equipment with automatic gun ships and tanks for defense. So much for peaceful co-existence - the machine aliens set out to transform the planet to an arid waste while exterminating the settlers. Through an intriguing sequence of events many of the human remnants of Snowglade escape on an ancient starship hidden by the 1st generation settlers. "Tides of Light" continues the fascinating story of survival and redemption on one of the strangest planets you may possibly ever encounter in a science-fiction story - think a molecule thick saw cutting the planet from pole to pole and up heaving rare elements for a starter.

"Tides of Light" is book 4 in Benford's Ocean/Galactic Center series. The encouraging news for readers is that you don't have to read books 1 and 2 - "In the Ocean of Night"(1972) and "Across the Sea of Stars"(1984) but you must, if you can read book 3 "Great Sky River"(1987) to enjoy and fully comprehend this novel. I have read all four books within the past several months and so I can make this statement with confidence. The overall general themes from books 1 and 2 are carried over but none of the characters and there are no cliffhangers to be reconciled.
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