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Great Sky River (Bantam Spectra Book) Hardcover – November 1, 1987

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
Book 3 of 6 in the Galactic Center Series

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Arthur Morey has recorded over two hundred audiobooks in history, fiction, science, business, and religion, earning a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards and two Audie Award nominations. His plays and songs have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Milan, where he has also performed.

Kevin Baker is the author of one previous novel, Sometimes You See It Coming, and served as chief historical researcher for the recently published The American Century by Harold Evans. He is married and lives in New York City.

John Rubenstein won a Theater World Award, a Tony, and a Drama Desk Award for his performances in Pippin and Children of a Lesser God.

Vikas Adam has numerous credits in theater, film, and television. His fifty-plus audiobooks span genres and include The City of Devi, A Free Man, The Far Pavilions, Ender's Game Alive: The Audioplay, Dreams and Shadows, and Tesla's Attic. He's an Audie nominee and Earphones Award recipient. He has a BFA in theater from Syracuse University and a MFA in acting from UCLA, where he's a lecturer in the theater department.

Gabrielle de Cuir is a Grammy-nominated and Audie Award-winning producer whose narration credits include the voice of Valentine in Orson Scott Card s "Ender "novels, Ursula K. Le Guin s "The Tombs of Atuan", and Natalie Angier s "Woman", for which she was awarded "AudioFile" magazine s Golden Earphones Award. She lives in Los Angeles where she also directs theatre and presently has several projects in various stages of development for film.

Stefan Rudnicki is an award winning audiobook narrator, director and producer. He was born in Poland and now resides in Studio City, California. He has narrated more than three hundred audiobooks and has participated in over a thousand as a writer, producer, or director. He is a recipient of multiple Audie Awards and "AudioFile" Earphones Awards as well as a Grammy Award, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Ray Bradbury Award. He received "AudioFile" s award for 2008 Best Voice in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Along with a cast of other narrators, Rudnicki has read a number of Orson Scott Card's best-selling science fiction novels. He worked extensively with many other science fiction authors, including David Weber and Ben Bova. In reviewing the twentieth anniversary edition audiobook of Card s "Ender's Game", "Publishers Weekly" stated, "Rudnicki, with his lulling, sonorous voice, does a fine job articulating Ender's inner struggle between the kind, peaceful boy he wants to be and the savage, violent actions he is frequently forced to take." Rudnicki is also a stage actor and director. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (November 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553052381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553052381
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third in Benford's "Galactic Center" series, and the first of the novels to actually merit the name. The other books are "In the Ocean of Night" (1977) and "Across the Sea of Suns" (1984), set in the near future not far from Earth, and "Tides of Light" (1989), "Furious Gulf" (1994), and "Sailing Bright Eternity" (1995) set, as is this one, about 30,000 years later.

This is a time when humans have settled the central regions of the galaxy and have entered a period of decline forced on them by mechanical intelligences, robots who long preceded them. The middle two novels tell the story from the point of view of the

man Killeen Bishop, starting on the planet "Snowglade" where humans (heavily genetically adapted and plugged in to electronic devices) live as scavengers among mechanical constructions, a world near the galactic black hole's accretion disk. Benford's treatment of the human augmentations as something they take for granted and use with considerable skill is an interesting adaptation of "cyberpunk" ideas, though he does expend many words in the novel discussing the technical details.

Most of the machines ignore the humans or treat them as simple nuisances, but the terrifying, powerful and seemingly indestructible "Mantis" pursues and haunts the Bishop family from this novel to the end of the series, ostensibly trying to understand humans better, and in particular why they are so horrified by its sense of "art".

Another entity appears in this third novel and remains through the end - a "magnetic" life-form of vast extent, with roots in the black hole accretion disk and strands reaching to nearby stars. Benford's physics blends with poetry in describing this and many other wonders he imagines for the cosmos.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I reviewed in the Ocean of Night and Great Sky River in the series and felt that from these two reviews, the potential buyer can get most of what I think regarding the entire series. The whole series gets 5 stars but the flavor of the first book is very different from the other 5, with the last 4 having the most consistent story and the last book of the series bringing things full circle.

Great Sky River was the first book in the Galactic Center series I read back in 1987 when it was first released. I must say that Benford introduced me to the world of hard science fiction bringing to life and showing me landscapes of the center of the galaxy that before where flat and lifeless concepts buried in science books at the library.

Great Sky River is a tale of survival for a small group of humans who use tremendously advanced technology to survive in a location where humanity was perhaps not engineered to exist - the center of the galaxy. All throughout the series, there is this oppressing weight that the sky is falling (which it is) as a vast machine empire has crushed humanity everytime that humanity has started to stand up and become a threat/challenger to the machines but the machines are never able to eliminate humanity, some always remain - and this is the story of one group of people who literally fight for survival.

Albeit, Benford shows us a world where humanity as a race has peaked and which is is terminal decline at the relentless onslaught of an ancient and powerful machine civilization that controls most of the resource rich central part of the galaxy and its giant black hole.

*** Generic Review of Series ***
Collectively, this series of books written by Gregory Benford are known as the Galactic Center Saga.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Over the last 20 years or so I've attempted to read all of the great Sci-Fi. The first time I read this book was about 15 years ago and at that time I felt that it was the best Sci-Fi novel that I have ever read. Clarke, Hebert, Asimov, Card, none of them have ever written as original and compelling a story as this one. I recently read it again and it was just as enthralling as the first time. Buy this book!

The jargon is a little challenging, but it adds to the authenticity of the novel. Once you get the feel for it, will seem natural.

The plot is flawless. Man has populated the stars and in doing so, crossed paths with a race that is so advanced, man hardly rates a second look. Unfortunately, this species requires a dry, almost waterless world, so as a result, humans find themselves on the brink of extermination at the... hands?, of a heartless, ruthless species.

Constantly on the run, reduced to a mere vestige of their great past, humanity is again a tribal unit of hunter/gatherers, scraping out an existence beneath the... radar?, forced to utilize the alien technology to their own ends, man searches for hope on the edge of extinction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was the first book in the series I ever read and probably my favorite. I picked this up about 10 years ago and it gave me nightmares for years so I recently decided to re-read it. The background is a small group of humans on a planet which has gone "mech". To try and survive, humans increasingly replaced their bodies with robot parts. It's not enough: the machines are faster, smarter, and their motivations largely incomprehensible as they hunt the survivors down. Eventually, they come to understand part of the reason they are being hunted, cut to pieces, and brain dumped. It's not because humans are a threat; they are shown an art museum full of "deconstructed" and "reinterpreted" primitive human components where they add to the collection nicely. This was a very believable "hard sci-fi" novel which laid out a terrifying and bleak possible future. I also liked the way the "mechs" were made to feel genuinely alien and incomprehensible. In contrast to some other reviewers, I liked that the survivors had their own dialect and strange way of talking, I felt it added to the realism. Overall I would highly recommend it as a memorable and interesting read (though I was less impressed with the rest of the series). As a stand-alone novel I think this holds up well.
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