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Sailing Bright Eternity Paperback – September 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Fifteen years ago, Benford's Timescape set the tone for the subgenre of "hard" science fiction that deals with quantum effects and particle physics, the discoveries and theories of which often make their fictional expressions seem more akin to fantasy than to traditional SF. Now, with this sixth and concluding volume of his Galactic Center series, Benford, a physicist himself, takes the form to either its apotheosis or its death knell. Though replete with fascinating ideas and exhilarating events that are, for the most part, elucidated with skill, the novel contains several chapters that may confound even readers who have followed the adventures of Nigel Walmsley since his initial appearance in 1977. Walmsley begins by relating his escapades to Toby Bishop, whose family is proceeding toward its destiny in the long-standing battle between organic and mechanical life-forms. The Bishop family and Walmsley are aided or impeded by several other life-forms whose roles and goals in the quest for ultimate survival are central to the story. While a reader's tenacity?which is what sets humans apart from others in Benford's conception of the universe?is occasionally tested, this novel stands as a worthy conclusion to what now should be acknowledged as the most important and involving hard SF series yet written.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In the sixth novel of his Galactic Center epic, Benford brings the series to a dramatic close with a peek into humanity's future 37,000 years hence. Nigel Walmsley, twentieth-century Earth's first starship traveler, who figured in the saga's first installment, In the Ocean of Night (1977), returns to recount recent adventures inside the Esty, an anomalous shelter of space-time existing outside a black hole near the galaxy's true center. Walmsley's listener is Toby Bishop, the adolescent protagonist of Furious Gulf , whose family and fellow humans have been decimated by an insidious, machine-based life-form known as the mechs. Together, Walmsley, Toby, and the remnants of Toby's family must find the means to outwit the mechs before they penetrate the Esty and destroy all trace of humanity. Benford makes up for his somewhat pedantic prose with a wealth of fascinating scientific speculation in a dazzling finish to one of the best hard-sf sagas ever written. Carl Hays --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I will read more of Greg B.'s books and look forward to more of his in the future.
One commenter takes umbrage with reading through to the end of the series if even the first book was a problem: to that, I take issue. I like Gregory Benford and with each novel I was hoping for some amazing new discovery. Sadly by the end I was laughing to myself as I flipped through pages of vague tensions and too-dense descriptions of things that I can barely imagine.
I frankly could not possibly care less what happens to clan Bishop; I did like Nigel though & wish I could have seen more of him and what he did. Also the Myriapodia.
As a few other reviewers have noted, this is really an epic tale, fantastic in its scope - but not in its execution.
So, if you've read the first four, you might as well read the last one. It's not pretty, but: it at least is the end!
Benford has created a series that skillfully interweaves so much from the canon of western science fiction, history, and literature, wrapped up in the most epic and imaginative hard SF saga I have ever read. The setting and structure of this book and the series in general allow for lots of beautiful descriptions packed with allusive literary digressions, odd nods to the absurdities of human societies and technological monstrosities, slapstick comedy, sometimes stunning depths of emotion, vision, and wit, and many interesting moments where ordinary humans find themselves grappling in close contact with numerous 'other' intelligences whose motives are often inscrutable.
Due to the sprawling nature of the book, the pace of the adventures that the characters are on often do seem to get somewhat lost as they head down various side-tracks. One of the quirks of the series is that the characters are often lost and fighting against a foe they can barely see or understand, whose superiority is absolute, in a universe whose daunting vastness leaves them aimlessly wandering and struggling to survive. I found the struggles of the various characters quite compelling and touching, and the ultimate conclusion seems quite appropriate and fitting to the tone of the series.
I would highly recommend this series to anyone who has read and enjoyed Asimov's foundation, the Dune series, and/or Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos. I feel this is in many ways superior to all of these classics and brings the 'epic' science fiction saga to a grounded, believable and humanistically relevant state.
The literal deus ex machina of the end of the series comes out of the driving force of the plot for the last several books, conflicts as old as religion and literature, man's desire for immortality or at least some meaning and peace in an uncertain and often cruel world, and Benford manages masterfully to build and weave allusions to these concerns throughout the series. This is what a reader should look for, not simply a satisfying, well-paced adventure with SF tropes thrown in. If you're expecting the latter read the Hyperion series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hopefully, this is the last in the series of books about the doings in the "Galactic Center" and it is a confused mish-mosh of ideas that...Read more