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Across the Sea of Suns Mass Market Paperback – 1 Aug 1987

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra; First THUS edition (1 Aug. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553266640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553266641
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.9 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,178,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gregory Benford (1941 - ) A leading writer of 'Hard SF', Gregory Albert Benford was born in Alabama in 1941. He received a BSc in physics from the University of Oklahoma, followed by an MSc and PhD from the University of California, San Diego. His breakthrough novel, Timescape, won both the Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards, and he has been nominated for the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula twelve times in all categories. Benford has undertaken collaborations with David Brin and Arthur C. Clarke among others and, as one of the 'Killer Bs' (with Brin and Greg Bear) wrote one of three authorised sequels to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He has also written for television and served as a scientific consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gregory Benford lives in California, where he is currently Professor of Plasma Physics and Astrophysics at the University of California, Irvine, a position he has held since 1979. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Fire boils aft, pushing the ship close to the knife edge of light speed. Read the first page
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By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
We have here the continuation of Nigel Walmsley's journey, starting from a research base on the moon and heading with alien technology deep into space, where humans suspect someone is trying to signal them from. Meanwhile, the earth is experiencing an incredible and unusual invasion - intelligent aliens seeded into the sea and a host of deadly parasites - that is played out in a survival drama on an island. This island drama is extremely well written, very subtle in all the things implied and what the few survivors are compelled to do; it alone is worth the price of admission.

Of course, the grand plan that Nigel is discovering, a titanic battle on an evolutionary scale between organic beings and machine intelligences, is the heart of the story. Benford is brilliant with the details he brings to this, in a long space flight where humans can change their sexes and engage in all sorts of petty intrigues (Nigel as the ever-disobedient iconoclast with his enhanced creative intelligence). It is an interesting vision that moves along quickly and is great intellectual entertainment. Where they end up is equally surprising, both in its outcome and where it points for the humans to try next, in what promises to be a long series.

Recommended as excellent hard scifi.
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By Jennifer Day on 3 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
Good story line and believable characters
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Excellent. This is real sci-fi. 25 July 2005
By Pipo Jones - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In reading science fiction of all kinds for over 25 years, I came across the best novels in the genre and also across some real stinkers. I've been a bit disappointed with my most recent sci-fi reads and have resorted to research reviews at to discover some "sure bets". It paid off. I recently discovered Benford's Galactic Center Series and although I wasn't terribly excited with the first book, this one, the second in the series is beyond my wildest expectations.

The range of themes Benford explores in this volume is ambitious, but he still manages to deliver a page turner that invites the reader into deep questionings in topics from first contact, to exobiology, to sociology, and even gender issues. What I have come to expect from science fiction (specially in hard sci-fi) is exactly what Benford put in this book: a good amount of speculation based on whatever scientific knowledge is available at the time of writing. And to his benefit, he does it in a way that fits the story arc and keeps you wanting more.

The narrative is linear, but progresses in two different fronts. In one, we follow the discoveries of the Lancer spaceship, which travels the galaxy trying to find life, or the remnants of life, in planetary systems that show potential. What they find is not very encouraging and leads one to hypothesize that biological life has been systematically eradicated from the galaxy by some advanced intelligence. The other front deals with what is happening on Earth as Lancer roams about and what a lot is happening! Alien life forms arrive on Earth and start to thrive in our oceans destroying existing marine life and attacking also large ships. It seems two different populations of being share our oceans and a survivor from a ship that was attack tries to make sense of their behavior. Top it off with human, petty political/military intrigue and you have a plot like that contends for the reader attention on equal footing with the galactic exploration. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
And I thought 'In the Ocean of Night' was good. 26 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was. But this is probably one of the top three hard sf books I have ever read. Following and building on the characters in the first book, 'Across the Sea of Suns' carries off a near perfect sequel and handily sets up the rest of the series. An amusing note... I acquired the book when it was first published and didn't notice the last chapter was missing. It wasn't until years later when a friend had bought the paperback and we were talking about it that I discovered the problem. What an ending... even if I had to wait several years to actually read it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A difficult read, but a big payoff for those willing to work for it. 20 April 2009
By SB - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The negative reviewers here in a way reveal something to be aware of in regards to this book. It is a difficult read. It is "science fiction" that not only features space ships and aliens, but also deep themes, challenging literary techniques, and significant amounts of hard science and theory.

The negative reviewers have mistaken certain literary and narrative techniques for "bad writing". Their own lack of experience with, or interest in, non-standard formal devices and methods makes them think the writer is unskilled. In fact, far from it, the author is an employer of sophisticated formal means and a highly oblique story-telling method, which these dullard reviewers are incapable of recognizing or appreciating.

That's not to say that if this is not your cup of tea, that you are stupid. I found this book challenging and sometimes frustrating. Many readers may grow fatigued: highly suspenseful and complex moments in the story are sometimes difficult to follow, as the reader is forced to decipher what is taking place by shifting through the subjective narrative told from the protagonist's viewpoint. As some reviewers have pointed out, at certain points the text is made up of strings of unattributed, undifferentiated, non-punctuated dialog, and it is up to the reader to plow through it while trying to figure out who is saying what, and to sift lines of significance from lines of verbal static.

In addition, nowhere in the book is the reader explicitly told exactly what is happening in the larger narrative. Rather, the reader must piece events together, guessing at some, and in many cases can be confused as to the true nature of events, or the correct interpretation of them, as the only sources of information are the subjective and jumbled thoughts of the characters, and their dialogs, which are usually recorded without commentary or interpretation by the writer.

All that being said, the payoff, for those who can make it through, is a unique and moving experience. The writer creates a grand theme that ties natural evolutionary processes to the fabric of the cosmos, the interaction of species and civilizations, the functioning of social groups, and the biology of individual bodies and minds. This theme is wrapped in a truly suspenseful story of humanity's first encounter with alien life forms and artificial intelligences, its first forays to other solar systems, and the massive and devastating conflict which results.

The book incorporates an incredible amount of science, but also an adventurous formal literary structure and technique, with a profound vision of the nature of life, evolution, and humanity's place in the cosmos.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Still one of my favorites 24 Jun. 2005
By Darren Burton - Published on
Format: Paperback
The best hard science fiction book ever written. Imagine that technology is viewed as a disease by a race of alien AI machines and humans are the mosquitoes (that spread the disease) that must be eradicated. Big concept science fiction.If you like Greg Bear, Dan Simmons, Neal Stevenson - this is going to be added to your favorite books list.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In the near future . . . . . 7 July 2004
By Robert M. Logan - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although Across The Sea Of Suns was first published twenty years ago, it is still good. Twenty years of evolving science, medicine and technology have not turned this book into an annoying or worse yet, humorous, science fiction. This is book two of the six book Galactic Center Series. I have not read the other five books in the series, but I have added them to my list of books I want read.
In 2064 the starship Lancer is launched to investigate near earth stars. A dozen years or so later, the Lancer approaches its first target. The life aboard the starship is described in enough detail to be interesting but is not plot-numbingly exhaustive. The relationships of the characters develop and change as the years pass. The crew faces challenges with both success and failure. While the Lancer travels through space, Earth is having its own challenges. Author Benford alternates between following Lancer and Earth. I thoroughly enjoyed the Lancer plot, but I found myself looking ahead to discover how many pages I would read of the Lancer plot before returning to Earth.
A one page star chart at the beginning of the book is helpful in following the Lancer's travels. A timeline at the end of the book is an interesting summary.
Warner Books published a paperback edition in 2004, so it will not be necessary to purchase a used copy of this book. I have not read the first book of the series, In The Ocean Of The Night, (yet), but if available to you, I would read that book before reading this one.
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