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City at the End of Time Hardcover – August 5, 2008
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Multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winning author, Greg Bear is one of science fictionâs most accomplished writers. Bold scientific speculation, riveting plots, and a fierce humanism reflected in characters who dare to dream of better worlds distinguish his work. Now Bear has written a mind-bendingly epic novel that may well be his masterpiece.
Do you dream of a city at the end of time?
In a time like the present, in a world that may or may not be our own, three young peopleâGinny, Jack, and Danielâdream of a doomed, decadent city of the distant future: the Kalpa. Ginnyâs and Jackâs dreams overtake them without warning, leaving their bodies behind while carrying their consciousnesses forward, into the minds of two inhabitants of the Kalpaâa would-be warrior, Jebrassy, and an inquisitive explorer, Tiadbaâwho have been genetically retro-engineered to possess qualities of ancient humanity. As for Daniel: He dreams of an empty darknessâall that his future holds.
But more than dreams link Ginny, Jack, and Daniel. They are fate-shifters, born with the ability to skip like stones across the surface of the fifth dimension, inhabiting alternate versions of themselves. And each guards an object whose origin and purpose are unknown: gnarled, stony artifacts called sum-runners that persist unchanged through all versions of time.
Hunted by others with similar powers who seek the sum-runners on behalf of a terrifying, goddess-like entity known as the Chalk Princess, Ginny, Jack, and Daniel are drawn, despite themselves, into an all but hopeless mission to rescue the futureâand complete the greatest achievement in human history.
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While this novel is brilliant, it was ultimately boring due to its slow, repetitive plotting and its use of well-worn ideas which have been seen in numerous novels previously (including novels by Greg Bear himself). This novel often plods along for scores of pages at a time without anything interesting happening or any advancement in the plot; hence, I was rather bored most of the time. If Mr. Bear had distilled this novel to approximately half its length it would have been much more satisfying. Lastly, I hate that Mr. Bear resorted to a deus ex machina ending (I HATE such endings). I appreciated Mr. Bear's clever use of mythology and symbolism. I also appreciated his writing style in this novel (it reminds me of Samuel R. Delany at his best).
In the end, "City at the End of Time" was brilliant, but boring. Although it was disappointing, I shall continue to buy every Greg Bear book that is published. He is a great writer: I am always hoping he will hit it out of the park (so to speak) one more time again.
But I got to tell the City at the End of Time totally captivated me. The first time I was exposed to it was through the audio book (which I also highly recommend). But audio books for all the drama of the spoken word still limits you in that you really have to listen. Well duh right? But what I mean is that if you miss something you have to rewind yadi yada and try to pick up what you lost.
But with the printed work you can actually dwell of something. Really get your head around it. There is a LOT to get your head around in City. These are some of the most amazing concepts. I won't ruin for you. But read the damn book. If you like anything he has written, I have got to believe you will love this book.
I'm a cat lover. Hey I like dogs too, but I identify with cats. Cats play an amazing role in this book and not in the way you expect. There are fantastic heros. Astounding villains and gods and demons you have never seen before. And amazing cats!
My most favorite book about the end of all things. But is it REALLY the end? With Mr. Bear you never know. Thank you Greg Bear for this marvelous voyage into what may happen and the view of love and devotion and courage in the places you would least expect it. If you really like the unknown and unexpected and views of worlds never before seen you will love this this book. Watch out for the cats!!
The book resembles nothing so much as a long, unpleasant, mushroom-induced hallucination. It's creative, sure, and Bear does a great job bringing the strange world to life, making you feel the fear and strangeness the characters are experiencing. Unfortunately, I don't like Salvador-Dali-like fantastic craziness. I like stories to make a modicum of sense; that's one of the reasons I read science fiction. I expected this one to become clearer by the end, but it actually veered even more into the murk. It might make for a good, if morose, fantasy, but sci-fi lovers will be left scratching their heads.
Reasons: multiple story lines, none of which advanced very quickly; deficient characterization that left me pulling for no one; repetitive scene description--albeit beautifully-written--that seemed to do nothing so much as to provide padding.
There are far better--in fact, great (eg Forge of God, Darwin's Radio)-- Greg Bear books out there. Don't let this be the first one you read.