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10 Reviews
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read and a couple of niggles
I have been a long-time fan of Niven and have also read a lot of Benford, so I was looking forward to this book. I'm pleased to say that with a couple of reservatios I found the novel engrossing.

Like other reviewers I noticed some editorial issues, characters injured, fixed, and then injured again, timeline troubles and the 'infamous' abrupt ending. Although...
Published 22 months ago by RobR

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to move a Ringworld but infuriate your readers
Well two main thoughts cross my mind. Firstly Niven has now found how to actually move a Ringworld interstellar distances. Secondly it is infuriating to discover, only on the very last page of the book, that this isn't a self-contained novel after all. Nowhere in any of the book's publicity or cover was this indicated and I am sure that this will tick off a number of...
Published 12 months ago by P. J. Dunn


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to move a Ringworld but infuriate your readers, 26 Aug 2013
By 
P. J. Dunn "Peter Dunn" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
Well two main thoughts cross my mind. Firstly Niven has now found how to actually move a Ringworld interstellar distances. Secondly it is infuriating to discover, only on the very last page of the book, that this isn't a self-contained novel after all. Nowhere in any of the book's publicity or cover was this indicated and I am sure that this will tick off a number of readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor show, 20 Aug 2013
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
Ringworld fans will recall Louis Wu musing on the idea of controlling Ringworld's sun and moving the entire structure out of Known Space and avoiding the galactic core exploding. Niven and Benford have taken the idea of moving Ringworld and made a very uninteresting book. The Bowl is Ringworld with a lot of superstructure to allow the star to be use as a jet. There the interesting bits end.

The builders are not that effective and seem to slip up when dealing with Humans. One definition of a Mary-Sue character is when the opponents lose fifteen IQ points. QED.

The Human crew of the Earth starship have little to differentiate them and, as another reviewer said, they merged into one. The Aliens really were not that alien and the remaining crew on the ship seemed not to spend too much effort trying to communicate with the Bowl's owners.

All in all, not a great story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another **** series, 6 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
OK, book arrived well packaged on time, as usual with Amazon
I was disappointed to find that the book is part of a series.
Plus It is very similar to RIng world and God in Motes eye
Both of these were fantastic but to hash up a tempt!
If I had never read the above then I would have given it four stars but compared to ......,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read and a couple of niggles, 30 Oct 2012
By 
RobR (Nottinghamshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
I have been a long-time fan of Niven and have also read a lot of Benford, so I was looking forward to this book. I'm pleased to say that with a couple of reservatios I found the novel engrossing.

Like other reviewers I noticed some editorial issues, characters injured, fixed, and then injured again, timeline troubles and the 'infamous' abrupt ending. Although these issues possibly shouldn't have made it into the final draft once seen and understood they had little affect on my eventual enjoyment of this novel.

It's well worth a read and has all the things fans want from a Niven/Benford collaboration. Sense of Wonder, intersting aliens and an ever present sense of exploration - What's over the next hill, around the corner, down that canyon?

Old fashioned? Yes. Is that a problem? No.

Bring on the next volume, i want to know what happens.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable hard science-fiction novel that is diminished by the weak characters, 10 Oct 2012
By 
Killie (Armadale, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
"Bowl of Heaven" is a science fiction novel created collaboratively between Gregory Benford & Larry Niven. As both these authors are known as masters of the genre I was looking forward to reading it even though I have never actually read a novel by either of them before. What I found, was a hard science fiction novel, full of exposition and mystery that I found both interesting and intriguing.

The story itself follows the Sunseeker, a new starship that is aiming to traverse the cosmos to colonise a new world in a journey that will take centuries. All the crew except those needed to pilot the ship will be put into hibernation with these piloting teams being rotated every few years. However, during the journey two issues occur that force the on duty crew to wake up additional people from their hibernation chambers.

The first of these issues is related to the ship's speed which appeared to be slowing to the point that the food supply on board the ship may be unable to sustain the crew that are awake during the rest of the journey. However, the second issue is the most amazing; they have discovered a massive structure in the shape of a bowl that is heading in the same direction as them. It is therefore decided that the only hope for the crew is to land on this structure and try to find enough food and water to ensure they can complete their journey. Of course, when they finally manage to land on the bowl they soon discover other creatures living there, some of which don't appear to appreciate the intrusion.

The quality of the writing in novel is superb, with the reader feeling truly immersed in the strange new world that has been created. The descriptions were excellent considering the scale of what was being described and I had no issue visualizing the various structures, creatures and environments. This is all helped by some close and in depth attention to the science which ensured there was a realistic feel to the entire adventure. I really enjoyed how the authors used many aspects of science from Biology to Geology to help stretch out the mystery so that the reader was putting the puzzle together alongside the characters.

The biggest let down in the book was probably the characters though who really did play second fiddle to the environment itself and the various alien creatures. There was a severe lack of complicated personalities and the interactions themselves were all very soap operatic. This didn't really fit with me as the people were meant be highly trained scientists and professionals. I could have understood the authors making the characters into more simple caricatures had this been a pulp light science fiction novel but it is meant to be hard science fiction and therefore I had expected interesting and intelligent characters.

A final issue I had with the novel though was in regards to the ending which left nearly everything unresolved and unexplained. Personally, I was disappointed when I realised I wasn't going to get anything answered by the final pages as I didn't see anything in the synopsis or cover to highlight the fact that I would need to read two novels to get a complete story. It won't have been a major issue to some people, but it did spoil the final 50-60 pages of the book for me as I made a futile attempt to try and work out how the story could be neatly tied up.

Overall, this was a enjoyable hard science fiction novel that whilst not being that original, was well put together with some great elements of exposition and head scratching intrigue. The characters are the novel's weakest point, but the way in which Benford and Niven have created this wonderful and mysterious world more than makes up for it. On a personal level, whilst I am a little bit annoyed that I have to wait for a 2nd book I wasn't expecting, I will still be picking up the sequel so that I can receive some answers to the many mysteries that remain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth the effort, 24 Jan 2013
By 
D. J. Plews "davidj37" (Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
I gave up reading this half way through. The concept is silly. The only character (a minor one at that) that I had managed to like was killed off. The characters are all navel gazing with not much real action. They avoid the most obvious and safest actions when contacting an alien artifact/race. The aliens aren't really alien, filled with human emotions and motives. The science is shaky. But I can handle shaky science if its a good story and this isn't. I've read all of Larry Niven's books and a few of Gregory Bedford's. This is not a Larry Niven book.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Bowl of Heaven, more like Bowl of Hokum, 24 May 2014
By 
G. Vassie - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
Bowl of Heaven, more like Bowl of Hokum. As for the bird 'Folk', I would invent a weapon which exclusively fires Trill, choke them to death then give them to KFC. And there are other books in this series....... bring me the ketchup.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic hard SF, 3 Mar 2014
By 
M. Weber "mg_weber" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Everything Benford writes is excellent, both from a hard sf and a literary standpoint. Niven is also excellent and this is my best SF read in years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm!, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
Think we've been here before. Reminded me a lot or the Ringworld series, but just slightly different. Interesting, but slightly disappointing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mind-boggling but disappointing so far, 6 Jan 2013
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Greg Benford and Larry Niven collaborate to offer us another mind-boggling concept. Unfortunately the story fall short, so far, from fulfilling its promises. As it is only the first half of a two-parter, I will give it the benefit of the doubt and reserve final judgement until its companion volume, Shipstar, is released.
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Bowl of Heaven
Bowl of Heaven by Larry Niven (Hardcover - 16 Oct 2012)
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