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Bright Messengers Paperback – Apr 1 1996

3.9 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (April 1 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553573292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553573299
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #105,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Lee's first solo mission (his collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke yielded the three latest Rama novels: Rama II, The Garden of Rama and Rama Revealed) continues in the Rama universe, beginning on Earth in 2141 during a depression called the Great Chaos. Using visits by the bright messengers (who may be angels or aliens), Lee brings together the lives of agnostic engineer Johann Eberhardt and Sister Beatrice, a devout nun of the order of St. Michael of Siena. The ensuing venture to Mars, to the messengers' ship and to the beyond is classic SF?a tale that exhibits Lee's firm control of character and dialogue and, in the best tradition of the genre, one in which love and sex play major roles. Although the resolution of Sister Beatrice's struggle with chastity lacks any unique insight, she is otherwise a remarkable religious figure, both admirable and accessible. And in solidly fleshing out Johann's professional, filial and uxorial roles, Lee may well have created a new hero.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

An American nun and a German engineer share an otherwordly vision that leads them to a fateful encounter on the planet Mars, where a small group strives to create a new world out of the shattered remnants of a decaying Earth. This solo effort by the coauthor (with Arthur C. Clarke) of several novels in the "Rama" cycle focuses on the theme of spiritual reawakening and moral responsibility. Despite an unfortunate tendency to stereotype both cultures and individuals, Lee's maiden voyage maintains a compelling interest in the story's grand design. Fans of the "Rama" novel will appreciate the vision that unfolds in this new series.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If I had not read the Rama series, I would have been tempted to give this book 5 stars, although I probably would have resisted that temptation. The characters are well-written and fairly deep, and the plot is complicated yet coherent enough. What kept bothering me, though were the frequent parallels to the Rama books - parallel characters, parallel themes, and even parallel scenes. I could never decide if these parallels were stylistic and simply reflected the fact that Mr. Lee co-wrote the last three Rama books, if he was intentionally creating these parallels, or if he was just not original enough to really create a different story from the Rama story. If you have not read this book or the Rama series, I would advise you to read this one first, to avoid the overshadowing effect. Also, maybe I was dense at the time (or always), but I didn't realize that I was reading Part 1 of a sequel until almost the end, when I realized that nothing could get resolved in the fifty or so pages I had left. I hope the sequel answers my questions.
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Format: Paperback
This story is a faithful attempt to follow the RAMA universe as best as possible. However, being that this is Lee's first clean break from the successful RAMA collaboration with Clark, one can immediately see the change in writing style. I believe it was Gentry Lee himself who said "What it takes me 5 words to say, Arthur (C. Clark) can say in 3". This book is an excellent example of that very statement. He is very descriptive, and at times, to a fault. I often found myself wishing that this "Amusement Ride" would end soon, and that a point was somewhere near.
The science fiction within Bright Messengers leans much more to the overwhelming than to the awe-inspiring nature of the RAMA series. It is borderline unexplainable fantasy, rather than an attempt to remain within the "Known Universe of Understanding" that Clark is noted for. It is almost akin to sci-fi/fantasy style of Heinlin.
As for the ending... I won't give it away, except to say that I believe that the story is far from over, and that I would like an opportunity to see how it develops in the next book.
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Format: Paperback
Bright Messengers, while not having quite as believable characters as the Rama sequel trilogy, is a great book, and a must read. However, what most people ask is "Where the hell is 'Double Full Moon Night?'" Well, Gentry Lee got side-tracked with the Rama CD-ROM, and didn't quite finish it. He is once again at work on it, and is 70-90% finished. People have also asked, "What the hell does this have to do with the Rama series?" Okay, for those of you who didn't pay close attention, the baby born at the end is the same baby Nicole found at the end of the 2nd to last section of Rama Revealed. The creatures who constructed the ship, and the "zoo" on mars are the Octospiders, not the Ramans. The sequel will be about how the baby travels 120 years through time to Rama III. Presumably, then a 4th series of Rama books will detail what happens to Maria, Michael, Simone, Max, Eponine, Patrick, Nai, Benjy, Ellie, little Nicole, Marius, Kepler, and the eagle. I'm not sure what happens then, but I think it may have something to do with the "Prime Monitor", the super node at the center of the galaxy. E-mail me if you want to discuss this
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Format: Paperback
During the first half of the story, when everything is taking place on Mars, "Bright Messengers" is a wonderful tale. As the story reaches its midpoint, however, things begin to rapidly go downhill. . . .

In the second half of the book, the characters become implausible and the situations wholly unrealistic (or, more acurately, how the characters react TO the situations becomes unrealistic). Gentry Lee asks us to believe too much; I just couldn't swallow it.

The main characters accept being ripped from their former lives and essentially put in a prison with barely a wimper. It seems as though Lee just wanted the story to end. He rushes the plot and it comes down around his ears.

Agreeing with another reviewer here, "Bright Messengers" is very much like the "Rama" books Lee co-authored with Arthur C. Clarke: they're essentially "people" stories (i.e. not "action" or "suspense" stories). And, like those previous books, at times, it becomes tedious in the extreme ("Rendevous With Rama" was the only true masterpiece).

Overall, this is a decent book, considering how much sci-fi trash really is out there. Still, take a LONG break between the "Rama" books and this one; if you don't, you'll bore yourself to tears. We can only hope that the sequel will be better. . . .
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Format: Paperback
Gentry Lee's effort sans Clarke shows him to be an engineer, but not a craftsman, of the novel. While his assessment of 22nd century conditions on Earth and Mars is plausible, his characters lack depth and tend toward the 2-dimensional. Johann is undisguised in his representation of the secular analytic, and Beatrice is transparent in her role as mystic. While all good science fiction consists of mysticism and empiricism, the best sci-fi characterizations remain all-too-human mixes of both. Moreover, the plot meanders, leaving many loose threads--one might suppose this to be the invitation to a sequel. Unfortunately, the Bright Messengers sequel threatens to bog down in ungainly descriptions of alien "snowmen" and aquatic children whose presence is never explained. Aficionados of Donaldson, LeGuin, Simmons, or Herbert can leave this novel alone.
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