Convergent Series Mass Market Paperback – 1 Oct 1998
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"... in the manner of Arthur C. Clarke's Rama books".-- The New York Times
Top Customer Reviews
Summertide: baisically a preview to the series; introduces the characters and universe and has little to do with the Builders of the artifacts until the end. A group of humans and aliens travel to Quake, an earthquake prone planet that has its worse quakes at summertide... and due to the alignment of the rest of the system, this will be the worst in a few hundred thousand years. Chaos ensues.
Divergence: The characters start on a journey through the mysterious artifacts, which are showing signs of change that may hearald the return of their Builders. They run into a long-dead alien race that had dominated the galaxy until its subjects revolted. Chaos ensues.
These stories are pretty standard space opera in the Star Wars vain. Readable, enjoyable, but nothing special. However, the third book is much better, and the final instalment is outstanding. As long as you don't mind that it's really pretty standard, it's a good way to spend a weekend, and it leads into a third and fourth novel that are both worth the wait.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The hard thing about the "mysterious alien artifacts" theme is that if you've done the setup well the reader is wildly curious about the aliens and what astounding purposes their artifacts must have had, and doing a good ending is extremely challenging. It's hard to make the actual explanation as mind-bending and transcendant as the reader wants it, needs it, to be. The novels in "Convergent Series" are, unfortunately, an example of how the actual explanation of the enigma can disappoint.
Without giving the ending away entirely, it turns out that the aliens are basically pretty dumb. Their entire civilization was traumatized by one of those pseudo-profound questions that first year Philosophy students dissect endlessly in the pub, but that in fact evaporate under serious consideration. Their approach to working on the problem is utterly silly and implausible, and serves mainly as a plot device to get the characters to where they need to be for the next scene.
The book is certainly fodder for airplane reading if you have nothing else to hand. But there are lots better things out there...
The descriptive part of the narrative - the science, the alien artifacts - are well done. In my view, the book is let down by two weaknesses, wooden characters and the pace of the narration. None of the characters really stick in your mind; they all seem to be rather two-dimensional and ordinary. In this regard I suppose the comparison to Arthur C. Clarke is quite valid :-) Where the author falls behind in comparison with great books employing the same setting is primarily in the pace of events. Things start off slowly, seem to get even slower in the middle, and only towards the end does the pace really pick up. This may be OK for some people, but not for me.
I don't mean to give a completely negative impression here. The book is not bad, in fact it is among the better ones of its kind. Maybe my expectations were set a bit high, after having read some of the author's shorter work first. Read it, if you can borrow it. Then compare with "Ringworld" (Niven)and "Rendezvous with Rama" (Clarke).
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