Gregory Benford expands Arthur C. Clarke's novella, Against the Fall of Night, into a novel-length adventure set billions of years in the future about human destiny among the stars.
This part of the book is a reprint of Clarke's Against the Fall of Night, which was written early in his career and shows it. It is fast paced (perhaps to a fault), and we're surprised at the naivete of all the characters at one time or another. However, it's fun for a light read and recommended.
The second half, written by Benford, is supposed to be a sequel, but bears absolutely no resemblance to Clarke's work. There are a number problems. Firstly, only 2 characters from Clarke's work survive, and they are relegated to supporting roles. Secondly, Benford makes the mistake of focussing on technology that is built 2 billion years in the future. This technology is used to fight the superbeing known as the Mad Mind, an energy-based species without physical form, but it's inherently silly to pit airplanes against a mental force. Finally, the "good" mentalic creature, Vanamonde, is ignored, even though its purpose from the first story is to fight the Mad Mind.
Thus, as a sequel, Benford's work is a disaster. Unfortunately, read on its own merits, it is no better. The main character is chased around and exposed to situations she doesn't understand, and she grows angry and frustrated at her experiences. We, as readers, share her anger and frustration. In the end, all that happens to her is a tour through the solar system. It's a whirlwind tour, however, so we are simply bombarded with images and it becomes boring.
I can generally rate books based on how long it takes to read them. The first half took a few days. The second half took a few weeks. Even television was more interesting! Therefore, the only reason to buy this book is if you can't find Against the Fall of Night by itself. If that's the case, I implore you - stop at the end of part 1!
It is a pity that Mr Benson didn't read either of them.
'Beyond the fall of night' takes some of the characters of ACC's book and reduces them. In fact, he appears to change so much of the original story that it is virtually unrecognisable. I find it difficult to believe that this is an 'authorised' sequel, since it contradicts much of what is written in the first book. The packaging of the book (putting the original in with the sequel) means that the contradictions are glaring (how come the moon was restored to completeness when it was destroyed by the weapon at Shalmarine?). The magnificence of the original novel has been lost in a hodgepodge of characters, ferris wheels and a pineapple spaceship. What?
Not recommended for anyone who has read the original. I think it was a mistake for Mr Benson to write this novel, and a mistake for Mr Clarke to let him.
Gregory Benford's "sequel" is incoherent mishmash. I kept jumping paragraphs hoping the story would get clearer. It didn't.
Forget this book entirely and get the original Arthur C Clarke story (Against the Fall of Night) combined with The Lion of Comarre.
I've never read a Gregory Benford story before and this turned me off so much I don't plan to read another.