The topic matter at hand truly could lend itself to very interesting story-telling, but in this text Bear does not seem to push hard enough. What it lacks is a penetrating insight needed to take expository texts into the realm of worthwhile fiction.
Also, I think that a chief problem in the plot arcs is that they do not cohere very well. Much is left out and context is often absent, with the result for me being that I really didn't follow the story - as it were - too closely. I found myself skipping/skimming over large portions of the text.
The "science is good" in the text, sure, but the "science is good" also in Scientific American. In the SF genre, good science absent good ploting means, ultimately, a less fruitful yield.
What perhaps irks me the most is that the actual payoff of the text is so asymmetrical with the tout & hype.
Put another way, if this is considered "masterful" science fiction, then we are in a dark period of science fiction writing. My view is that the science fiction genre, emblazoned as it used to be with irreverance and occasional iconoclastic brilliance, is now almost completely subject to creativity-dampening strictures of political correctness. Bear's work is almost a monment to P.C. in writing.
Put anoyther way: P.C. and S.F. are utterly incompatible. Since the publishing industry will not publish those texts which do not jibe with current notions of what's P.C., and since the American readership is evidently so docile and easily pleased, then we may predict an extended dark age for the SF genre.
However, to give Bear proper credit for not being completely P.C.Read more ›
Many of the devoted fans of Bear who read with relish Darwin's Radio will eagerly look forward to buying this book. For them, it will be a very quick and, perhaps in some ways, satisfying read. It will answer certain questions about "what happened next" and could even leave room for yet a third novel. It is otherwise a harmless novel that will not enlighten but not irritate a reading audience(...)