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Time travel, parallel universes, megastructures in space and the continuation of aggressive territorial behavior in space are thematized. I can think of no sensible way to review the book without spoiling it, and can only suggest that, if you also missed it, and have liked other Bear books, you give it a shot. Maybe if you liked Banks’ The Algebraist or Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn you’ll like this – similarly bloated balderdash disguised as serious science fiction.

They inform both conflicts: the tension between the Russians and the Americans, which culminates in an invasion of the Stone that goes pear-shaped faster than you can say, “an invasion of the Stone that goes pear-shaped”; and the meetings between the 21st-century humans and their alternate-future counterparts from Axis City. If the Soviets believed the Americans were learning secrets that would give them an edge, tensions might escalate out of hand. If so, I remember starting it and being taken through a room-by-room tour that was lots and lots of Tell and very Little Show…and it just seemed to go on and on and on to no discernable purpose. Greg Bear is not the superb master of characters and political speculation in which Ursula Le Guin - Left Hand of Darkness excels, nor is he a smooth story teller such as Ray Bradbury. At the opening of the novel, in 2005, Judith Hoffmann, head of the commission that coordinates the exploration of the Stone, recruits a theoretical physicist.

It seems to him that the author just makes us discover what he wants to be the case at an unnatural rate so he doesn't sacrifice pacing. He carries the story well, it has good pace and is incredibly well thought out for a large scale piece. Dialogue is clunky and unrealistic, there are some really absurdly penned sex scenes, and his description of the characters is formulaic.

At the time of the writing of the novel, a continuation of the cold war in space was still a possible option. Re-reading this book I felt like I was entering through the bore-hole for the first time and experiencing the asteroid anew. As time is not an issue, let’s not brief her fully ASAP so she can get to work, but let her experience this strange hollow asteroid herself, browse its libraries, appreciate its interior design computer programs. First encountered Bear in reading the Mongoliad series which is co-authors with Stephenson and others, and liked it. Math genius running around with a device to check the local value of π doesn't make for hard sci fi.In the 80s, politruks, the political officers tasked with keeping up the morale of the troops and keep them in line with the communist doctrine were largely washed-out corrupt thugs who didn’t care about the doctrine. If you enjoy the site please consider a small donation towards the cost of the upkeep and development of SFBook. For example, Patricia is supposed to be a brilliant mathematician whose theories precede those that enable the construction of the Stone’s seventh chamber and the Way. To make matters more confusing, some of the politicians kept switching allegiances or revealing their true motives even before I got to understand their original pretense, and thus fully appreciate the switch they pulled. I came up a bit short there, as there really isn't much of a plot, at least, not in the first 400 pages.

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