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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on June 29, 2000
Well, I can't fault Greg Bear for his imagination. He clearly has tons of ideas, many of which are wild and intriguing. His mistake was cramming them all into one novel, producing a hopelessly cluttered work in which so many threads are competing for attention that none of them is allowed any real development or substance. Early on, the book drops hints about the far-out ideas it contains, but devotes way too much attention to Cold-War squabbling which is boring and mundane in comparison, and hopelessly dated in retrospect. When it finally gets into the far-future stuff, the culture and technology are exotic to the point of caricature, more silly than awe-inspiring. It feels a bit like "Gulliver's Travels," but without a trace of Swift's satirical purpose. In fact, it's hard to see any real purpose underlying this story, other than to let Greg Bear unload his wild speculations. I read this book because I was interested in the physical concept of the Way and the technology of sculpting with spacetime; but this, like every other aspect of the story, is never explored with the detail it deserves. The characters have the same problem as the concepts: there are simply too many of them, and none is really given depth.
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on October 10, 2001
Friends and colleagues had hyped this book for years, so I finally bought it and slogged through its 500+ pages.
The book suffers from a common failing of "hard" science fiction: a lack of humanity. Bear does try by providing a three-dimensional heroine, but focus on her is constantly lost in anachronistic machinations of Cold War politics and nearly unintelligible Thistledown politics.
Also: Thistledown is never fully explained and never fully presented to us as an understandable place where humans or their descendents live; characters like the Jarts seem thrown in only to goose the plot; the explanation of time and universe travel was inadequate (how can a divining rod be the mechanism for finding Patricia's proper space and time?); and the romantic scenes, although appreciated by my prurient and adolescent mind, seem to be tacked on as an afterthought and unrealistic insofar as who chases whom.
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on January 14, 1999
Greatest sci-fi epic ever. Not! Complexity and emotion in the characters. Not! Well-written. Not! Sorry, but after slaving through this 150,000 word tome, I felt cheated. I could have had a V-8 :) The characters are shallow, wooden stick figures. Bear spends a lot of time creating a family for Patricia, then drops it like a, well, potato :) He didn't have the imagination to bring them back in at the end like any good author would have, and have events lead to psychological self-discoveries. You can get that much in a TV movie of the week! The sole positive is his apparent superficial study of relativity theory and topology, and his plot device of the Stone itself. But even that seems to degenerate from almost pseudo science to pure magic and fantasy muck by the "geometrically increasing" end. And he did what? Wrote a sequel? Yiyiyi!
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on September 1, 2016
Nothing seems to happen, found the story boring. I like more action than is in this book so far.
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on June 5, 2000
I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I got to the end of this book. First of all, it took an eon to read it. It was painfully slow with little climatic excitement for build-up. The characters from Eternity (which I loved) did not develop. It is hard to engage the reader in a world when the main characters are all disengaged. What can I tell you? Rather than read this book just imagine what happens to the people of Thistledown when the future meets the present, or the present the past, or whatever. I was so confused by the end I did not care. Actually, I love time travel and alternate reality stories. I think Bear missed an opportunity to give up hope for the future and hope for the universe here though. I wanted a kind of spiritual hope that would make me feel good and reflect upon all things positive in our lives. Instead, his Final Mind left me with a feeling of dread. Bear is too much a visionary for me. I found myself skimming paragraphs rather than trying to construct what he described. I agree with an earlier reviewer that you need a map and guidebook to get through this book. Anyway, read with caution, if you must read it at all.
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on April 25, 2001
I was drawn into this story by the character of Patricia Vasquez, a young mathematician whose brilliant mind might hold the key to understanding the Stone, an asteroid which suddenly appears above Earth in the year 2000, yet which seems to contain in its hollowed-out core the artifacts of a human civilization. Patricia was enough to get me past the fact that in the book the US is still involved in the Cold War, with Communist characters spouting predictable party jargon at every opportunity. But as the fictional world took more and more turns toward the bizarre, with less and less explanation or character development, I was lost. By the end I wanted to ask the publisher to send me the missing pages that would explain the 502 I had just read.
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on March 10, 1999
It seemed to take eons to finish this book. There is a relentless supply of details, presented in a dull and matter of fact manner. These quickly dominate the book and distract from the interesting story hidden within. Details are normally good, but here it is too much of a good thing. Any sense of wonder or amazement was so short lived that it became meaningless. Very early on it became a labor for me to continue reading. I had hoped things would pick up at some point. They didn't.
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This is such an obvious rehash of Clark's Rendevous With Rama, and not written half as well. Rock orbits earth, mission sent to investigate, herione is kidnapped, strange aliens encounters, etc., etc.
Character development is pretty thin also and there's a lot of technological jargon about singularities, etc. Fine if you're into the theory of black holes and such, but doesn't do much to move the store along.
Get the Rendevous With Rama series instead.
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on October 11, 2001
Interesting story beginning with the eploration of the classic "unknown object", followed by political conflict, at bit of fighting, aliens, and .. the end which is a anti-climax.
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