Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
Excellent. This is real sci-fi.
on July 25, 2005
In reading science fiction of all kinds for over 25 years, I came across the best novels in the genre and also across some real stinkers. I've been a bit disappointed with my most recent sci-fi reads and have resorted to research reviews at Amazon.com to discover some "sure bets". It paid off. I recently discovered Benford's Galactic Center Series and although I wasn't terribly excited with the first book, this one, the second in the series is beyond my wildest expectations.
The range of themes Benford explores in this volume is ambitious, but he still manages to deliver a page turner that invites the reader into deep questionings in topics from first contact, to exobiology, to sociology, and even gender issues. What I have come to expect from science fiction (specially in hard sci-fi) is exactly what Benford put in this book: a good amount of speculation based on whatever scientific knowledge is available at the time of writing. And to his benefit, he does it in a way that fits the story arc and keeps you wanting more.
The narrative is linear, but progresses in two different fronts. In one, we follow the discoveries of the Lancer spaceship, which travels the galaxy trying to find life, or the remnants of life, in planetary systems that show potential. What they find is not very encouraging and leads one to hypothesize that biological life has been systematically eradicated from the galaxy by some advanced intelligence. The other front deals with what is happening on Earth as Lancer roams about and what a lot is happening! Alien life forms arrive on Earth and start to thrive in our oceans destroying existing marine life and attacking also large ships. It seems two different populations of being share our oceans and a survivor from a ship that was attack tries to make sense of their behavior. Top it off with human, petty political/military intrigue and you have a plot like that contends for the reader attention on equal footing with the galactic exploration. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!