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Marooned in Realtime [Paperback]

Vernor Vinge
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 9 2004 Peace War (Book 2)
Multiple Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge takes readers on a fifty-million-year trip to a future where humanity's fate will be decided in a dangerous game of high-tech survival.

In this taut thriller, a Hugo finalist for Best Novel, nobody knows why there are only three hundred humans left alive on the Earth fifty million years from now. Opinion is fiercely divided on whether to settle in and plant the seed of mankind anew, or to continue using high-energy stasis fields, or "bobbles," in venturing into the future. When somebody is murdered, it's obvious someone has a secret he or she is willing to kill to preserve.The murder intensifies the rift between the two factions, threatening the survival of the human race. It's up to 21st century detective Wil Brierson, the only cop left in the world, to find the culprit, a diabolical fiend whose lust for power could cause the utter extinction of man.

Filled with excitement and adventure, Vinge's tense SF puzzler will satisfy readers with its sense of wonder and engaging characters, one of whom is a murderer with a unique modus operandi.

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Review

"Splendid long-range sequel to The Peace War. A marvelous extrapolative tale, to which no summary can do justice, with a gripping blend of high-tech razzle-dazzle and good old-fashioned murder-mystery--all spiced with that unique and awe-inspiring new twist on the time-travel theme. Easily Vinge's best work, and highly recommended." (Kirkus Reviews)

"The scope and grandeur of the plot mark this novel as a high point in hard SF creativity. Highly recommended." (Science Fiction Review)

"Marooned in Realtime combines the expansive mode of hard SF with the narrow focus of the detective story, complete with a final orchestrated showdown. The result is exciting; you can hardly turn the pages fast enough." (Locus)

About the Author

Vernor Vinge has won five Hugo Awards, including one for each of his last three novels, A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999), and Rainbow’s End (2006). Known for his rigorous hard-science approach to his science fiction, he became an iconic figure among cybernetic scientists with the publication in 1981 of his novella "True Names," which is considered a seminal, visionary work of Internet fiction. His many books also include The Peace War.
 
Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin and raised in Central Michigan, Vinge is the son of geographers. Fascinated by science and particularly computers from an early age, he has a Ph.D. in computer science, and taught mathematics and computer science at San Diego State University for thirty years. He has gained a great deal of attention both here and abroad for his theory of the coming machine intelligence Singularity. Sought widely as a speaker to both business and scientific groups, he lives in San Diego, California.

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On the day of the big rescue, Wil Brierson took a walk on the beach. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranded May 20 2004
Format:Paperback
Taking place 50 million years after The Singularity -- a point in the 23rd century in which most of humanity disappears mysteriously -- The Peace War's sequel, Marooned in Realtime, centers around a murder mystery. Who killed one of the few remaining humans left on Earth by stranding the person outside of the bobbles -- a spherical stasis field in which time stops -- inside which everyone else was letting the centuries slip by?
Marooned in Realtime is certainly the equal of its predecessor, The Peace War...if not slightly better. In this book, there is genuine suffering as well as genuine hope...both human conditions conveyed by several different characters and both portrayed very well. Vinge makes the reader truly feel for the characters...even the villians.
Vinge also does a reasonably good job of conveying the far-future world...with its myriad of lifeforms and strange ways...as well as describing the peoples' reactions (good and otherwise) to this new world.
The only problem with the story was slight. I thought Vinge could have drawn the action scenes a bit better...I found them to be a bit tough to visualize. (Was that the point?) But overall, Vinge has once again created a marvelous story of a future humanity...one with its flaws and excesses...but also one which should inspire those today to leave our progeny something in which they may not only be proud, but in which allows them the best possible lives they can have...and then to do the same for those in which come after them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dropped Out of Time March 12 2014
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Wil was a detective closing in on an embezzler. His quarry panics and uses a high tech force field to “bobble” Wil, effectively ending his investigation. A bobble is an impenetrable, spherical force field that can be set to last for a specific period of time. Inside the bobble, time stops. Outside it marches on. Wil emerges from his involuntary confinement far in the future, where a small group of the also-bobbled try to work out what happened to everyone else on the Earth. Was it an alien invasion, careless self-destruction, transcendence to a new plane of existence…? It is a mystery.

Wil has two smaller mysteries to solve as well. The embezzler who trapped Wil, tearing him away from his family, was caught and put into a nearby bobble timed to emerge shortly after Wil. This was considered a just punishment for involuntary bobbling. But Wil’s enemy has been given a new face and name by the leader of the survivors. Wil is expected to abandon any plans for revenge because every surviving human being is needed to make their colony viable. Wil is reluctant to end his search.

The second mystery is also tied to bobbling. Marta, one of the colony’s leaders, is deliberately trapped outside of the colony’s next bobble-jump to the future. She spends 40 years as the only living person in the wilderness of Earth, before dying of old age. Marta’s companion is grief-stricken and furious. Wil is tasked to identify the murderer, using Marta’s diary and other decades-old clues. Everyone seems to be a suspect.

Complicated? Yes. But well-written and easier to follow than this brief summary. The interactions between members of the colony who originated in different eras are carefully thought out and produce interesting cultural conflicts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  53 reviews
95 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Subtle Loss July 25 2000
By Rodney Meek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
**This review contains spoilers!**

Ya know, I've really got to start reviewing more books that I loathed with a passion so that I can't be accused of just handing out five stars to every novel I ever picked up. Yet "Marooned in Realtime" has earned every accolade I could give it. Most books fade rapidly from my memory, providing a passing diversion at best. This one is deep, moving, wrenching, thought-provoking, tragic. If I could only keep, say, ten books, this would be one of them.

Vernor Vinge picks up on the milieu he created in an earlier book and expands upon the use of "bobble" technology. The bobbles are stasis bubbles that can be set for durations ranging from hours to centuries. Since nothing inside them experiences the flow of time, they can be used as a kind of one-way time travel ticket to the future. Simply set the parameters as desired, pop up a bobble around you, and see what the world's like in two centuries.

This is what a group of men and women are doing on a deserted future Earth, slowly making their way up the timestream to see what lies ahead, and hoping to come back into synch with the rest of scattered humanity. Vinge does a good job of introducing and developing characters, making you identify with or understand them. The key figure is from close to our time and acts as our point of view.

He is the one that has to investigate what could only be a murder, when the group bobbles up for another leap and one of their members is left behind. For the others, only an instant passes; for the stranded woman, years of isolation and loneliness go by, with her only hope being to live long enough for the bobble to dissipate and provide her salvation and succor. And...she doesn't make it. She spends months struggling in fear and grief, an arm's length and an eternity away from her friends inside the mirrored bobble, hoping, praying.

The tale of her struggle, told in a sort of flashback as the lawman reads her journals, is the heart of the book and is truly heartbreaking. Even knowing that she didn't survive, you find yourself hoping, as you read along with the investigator, that somehow it will all turn out all right. But it won't.

"Marooned in Realtime" is a minor and overlooked classic by an author who creates rich, vivid, intricately detailed worlds and characters and who excels in exploring the ramifications of advanced technology and social innovations. Vinge only bangs out a book about every three years or so, but they are well worth the wait. This is the best of them; give it a try, and you won't regret it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranded May 20 2004
By themarsman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Taking place 50 million years after The Singularity -- a point in the 23rd century in which most of humanity disappears mysteriously -- The Peace War's sequel, Marooned in Realtime, centers around a murder mystery. Who killed one of the few remaining humans left on Earth by stranding the person outside of the bobbles -- a spherical stasis field in which time stops -- inside which everyone else was letting the centuries slip by?
Marooned in Realtime is certainly the equal of its predecessor, The Peace War...if not slightly better. In this book, there is genuine suffering as well as genuine hope...both human conditions conveyed by several different characters and both portrayed very well. Vinge makes the reader truly feel for the characters...even the villians.
Vinge also does a reasonably good job of conveying the far-future world...with its myriad of lifeforms and strange ways...as well as describing the peoples' reactions (good and otherwise) to this new world.
The only problem with the story was slight. I thought Vinge could have drawn the action scenes a bit better...I found them to be a bit tough to visualize. (Was that the point?) But overall, Vinge has once again created a marvelous story of a future humanity...one with its flaws and excesses...but also one which should inspire those today to leave our progeny something in which they may not only be proud, but in which allows them the best possible lives they can have...and then to do the same for those in which come after them.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the FUTURE! March 27 2006
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A mystery, a tale of survival, the government of New Mexico, the Peacers, bobbles and millions of years in the future. Tinkers, low tech, high tech, ungovs and statists. Wil W. Brierson, a police detective from the 21st Century, had been shanghaied - forced into a bobble against his will. Now he, and the last remains of mankind and culture, were doing all they could to survive.

And one of the most important persons on Earth, the one with the plan to save them all, is murdered. So after millions of years he gets a new job. To solve the crime.

Set in a Earth far in the future, with advanced techonolgy, interesting characters, realistic problems and new animals the book is a great read. Dogthings, social spiders and fishermonkeys remind me of a Dougal Dixon book. And as Vernor Vinge is a fan of Mr. Dixon there is a reason for that.

I don't have the Peace War but I do have the short story The Ungoverned in which Wil stops the NM invasion of Kansas so I did know some of the background of his character and why the New Mexicans dislike him. This book is just great with the first book. In other words, it pretty much stands on its own.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-expanding detective story Aug. 9 2001
By Wes Edens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a whodunnit to beat them all--who murdered the human race? I had some problems with some of the ideas in the book--namely, that humans zapping ahead millions of years into the future would find themselves on an Earth that was compatible with human life every step of the way. That said, this was a terrific read. Vinge is a rare talent--he writes the hardest of hard SF with style and grace. The story is a vehicle to explore Vinge's concept of the Singularity. This is the idea that humanity is on the verge of transcending itself in one blinding step, through artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, or something yet to come. This book is hard to put down, and one of my new favorite SF novels of all time.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works in many different ways June 20 2002
By Gary Sprandel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Imagine bouncing forward through time, for millennium, in "bobbles" and the implications. For the mystery fan, there is a murder spanning millennium. For the technologist, there are implications of accelerating technologies, of maintaining personal databases and records through millennium. Vinge's computer science teaching shines through without stifling his imagination. Embedded systems with Intelligence Amplification (as opposed to AI) are explored, as well as wearable (err ..brain-networked) computers. For the historian, there are those groping with the singular change and loss of humanity, and the manner of people dealing with being marooned for millennium (see Albert Camus - the Myth of Sisyphus).
For all this is a great story. There are a lot of fun tidbits thrown in, like; "dragon" birds, who are evolving to set fires to get more to eat, people witnessing plate technonics, and interglobal network hacking (recall this was written before the internet!).
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