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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 22 September 2006
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This book revolves around the invention by a power hungry business fat cat of the WormCam - a wormhole camera. The development starts as a way of linking points in space so that everything can be witnessed in real time and just as people are getting used to this concept, the technology is developed further to link points in time. To be precise, to view any point, anybody, anywhere in history. And the technology is available to all.

Now humanity has to suffer the escalating consequences of knowing every secret ever kept and the horrific realisation that people of the future are watching them, now.

This is a clever book of unravelling horror. Not for those already pre-disposed to paranoia.
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on 7 September 2002
This book epitimizes the aspects of a thought provoking book. It is a rare to find fiction that that is concurrently scientifically, sociologically, historically, and politically intelligent. It takes a technological breakthrough and illustrates in a believable way how the world would react. In a more progressive minded world this would be an instant classic. I recommend this book very highly, easily the equal of any classic on the so-called human condition that I've read and enjoyed. The worst part of this book is that it has to end at some point despite it getting more and more interesting as you go on.
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on 9 October 2001
It is strange how two people's opinion of a book can be so different. Granted this book is not hardcore SciFi and may not appeal to the majority of 'techies' out there, but I must say that it is quite visionary in it's approach to the social impact of 'wormcams' and how society can be influenced so profoundly be such a technology.
All in all a great read, and certainly worth the price.
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on 24 March 2011
I'm a die hard Sci-Fi fan and therefore I know what I'm going to say will shock some people. I don't like Clarke's solo work that much. There I said it. Baxter on the other hand I do like, though I always read his novels and come away feeling quite depressed and somewhat lost in the bleak infinity of a hostile and cold future.

Baxter and Clarke together = Winning team. They compliment each other brilliantly, and I find that Clarke injects a bit of warmth into Baxter's beautifully scientific futures, where Baxter can sometimes create cynical and cold characters, Clarke seems to be able to soften them and they come out being far more human that either writer is capable of independently.

No spoilers here - This novel is not only a brilliant example of the collaboration between these two authors, it's also quite a startlingly visionary book. I first read it in 2000 (first publish date) and was blown away by the social and personal implications outlined in the plot, though felt fairly secure in the idea that the technology that brought about such changes was a long way away (if possible at all).

Now in 2011 I can see a direct comparison between social and corporate attitudes to the developing Internet and the 'wormhole cam' developed in the novel. Obviously the novel is just that, fiction, but I'm totally impressed how these two were able to write about the impact of a technology that at the time didn't exist as it now does, and although some of the more extreme effects of the fictional technology are clearly only things that can exist with that specific technology, I do feel as though they were writing about the Internet but under a different name to some degree - I'm sure this wasn't intentional, but it does show an excellent understanding of human nature on the part of the authors - Remember this was written before Twitter, Facebook, Before Google Earth/Maps, before smartphones that put the internet in your palm, before the online world was even nearly as all encompassing as it is now, before those things allowed news to get out from oppressed countries, before those things allowed front-line soldiers to tell us what it's like, before the average person at a computer could look through google street view and see streets on the other side of the world, before search engines could pull out personal histories and our digital footprint was possible to trace...

Anyway - review: This, in my opinion, is a seminal piece of sci-fi. It's exactly what good sci-fi should be. It's thought provoking, elegant, somewhat moralistic and at the heart of it all, a damned good story! As I've said, it's also quite visionary, and therefore I think it has a lot to say about social responsibility and choice in our present information age.

If you've read other Baxter/Clarke super-team-ups then you'll enjoy this one. If you've not, or had no experience of either (and therefore probably haven't read much sci-fi?), then it's best to think of this novel as something like a cross between an updated (possibly prequel to) 1984 and a great Spy/Detective novel with a decent amount of scientific-existentialism thrown in for good measure.
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on 10 September 2006
I felt I had to write this review to counteract Robert Holmes' fairly damning comments about the characterisations in this book. I loved the book both for the astounding vision of one possible future it portrays, and because it does manage, within its wide-sweeping history of the effects of a single scientific development, to portray a range of characters - some sympathetic, some not - and create reader interest in their future.

Write a science fiction without believable characterisation and you are left with such travesties as the supposed sci-fi classic, Tau Zero, where in the end, who really cared what happened? I struggled to bother finishing that book, in spite of the amazing "scientific" ideas it detailed.

In contrast, I enjoyed every page of "The Light of Other Days". The effects Mr Baxter and Mr Clarke envisage of having no social privacy are thought-provoking and in many cases convincing, whilst the initial use of "wormcam" for intrusive papparazi journalism is both a damning comment on society today and very believable. I love the way that the human race grows in mental stature over the course of the book as a direct result of controlling their own access to the truth. An optimistic vision that is a welcome change from much of the doom and gloom in today's sci-fi.

There is nothing here that would cause unacceptable offence to any religion in my opinion. It is a fictional, speculative book that contains sufficient believable science and likable characters to be a gripping and thought-provoking read. It makes no claims about the veracity of the supposed "absolute truths" described.

Highly recommended in my opinion, and a must for any fans of ACC.
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on 14 May 2013
This book had great potential, but sadly it wasn't utilized. The first point of failure is the lack of character build up. There is no bond nor history formed between characters and readers making it difficult to care where the story takes them. There is no plot or structure and you will spend longer reading about the implications of looking into the past then actually enjoying the possible histories being shattered. With a limited plot and no suspense to keep you reading, this book becomes a chore. I resorted to speed reading only to find the ending as disappointing as the rest of it. The concepts introduced in this book open massive and exiting plot potentials that were not explored.
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on 8 September 2013
Firstly I should say I'm not a hardcore connoisseur of SF; I have never read Clarke before and my experience of Baxter extends only to Evolution and the Mammoth trilogy, so I cannot comment on how these compare (favourably or unfavourably) to the authrors' other similar works. However the more of these kind of books I read the more I am absorbed by them, so perhaps more accurately I am only at the beginning of a long journey into the depths of SF!

To get the negatives out of the way first, I do agree with some other reviewers that characterisation does not seem Baxter's strong suit, and that I certainly didn't feel much degree of emotional empathy for specific characters in the novel. I suppose if what you want is a hero character you can really connect with then this isn't your kind of book. However for me the distant characters detracted little from my enjoyment of the book. I didn't feel like rooting for the characters was really the point of the novel; I would even say that the authrors' treatment of them, intentionally or not, contributed to the wide-reaching view of human society he projected, rather than reducing it to something like 'the story of Kate' or one of the others. The presence of such characters, in my opinion, is merely as tools to add some background fabric to the novel and give it directionality; a point to return to as it progressed, like an anchor for the reader admidst the other far-flung contents of the book. I actually found this a refreshing change from books that try to reveal an epic concept via the blow-by-blow emotional experiences single character, which just makes the whole thing sound too egotistical and contrived for me. Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that in a book which at different times has you seeing human lives as tiny and insignificant and at others viewing humankind as a whole like a single entity, it seemed acceptable to me that no one character jumped out as more deep and attractive than any other.

The rest of the book I loved. I can understand why the style might seem too 'choppy' for some readers, jumping forward months at a time without warning and switching between different people, places, times, applications of the 'WormCam'... all seemingly at random. But I felt like this actually worked as a representation of the broad reaches of such a hypothetical technology. It gave the impression of a chaotic world in which the new WormCam technology was being applied in every direction at once, and it also represented how people's interests differ - what's the first thing you'd want to see? It probably isn't the same as the next person's priorities. In some ways it's like an analogy for the spread of the internet; once it took off and became public domain, its uses were applied in a million different directions at once. I'm not sure how else the authors could represent a similar phenomenon with the WormCam WITHOUT jumping from snippet to snippet to give this impression of chaotic advancement - to create separate books to delve into each of these ideas would ruin the effect of many things happening simultaneously, of the overwhelming flood of information and truth that would come crashing down all at once in a world newly introduced to their proposed WormCam technology.

The crux of my feeling is this. To me there are two kinds of great reads. First there are the 'can't put it down' books, which tend to be fast-paced, unpredictable, full of suspense and action - in other words, the page-turners you devour in one sitting because every chapter is a cliffhanger. And they are great, but once read the details are soon forgotten. Then there are the books with the massive concepts, the ones that broaden your thinking - slower, methodical, ones you have to take your time with to assimilate the ideas as if patiently training the mind to think in a new direction. These latter are the ones you find yourself thinking about at odd times during the day, and that you finish the very last paragraph of then sit in awe for a moment, and often return to in thought for weeks or months afterward. The books you feel changed by. The best compliment I could give this book is that for me it is seated firmly in the latter category. I gave me the feeling I have come to associate with Baxter's work of feeling saddened, small, humble, hopeless, yet somehow exhilirated and strangely at peace with the wonderful weirdness of humanity and its scary yet amazing potential at the same time. THAT is the emotional impact of this kind of novel for me, and it is more powerful than any passing attachment to an idealised fictional character.
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on 17 April 2014
A fantastic collaboration of A C Clarke and Stephen Baxter; two of the greats of SF. A story detailing the invention of the 'wormcam': a surveillance technology utilizing traversable micro wormholes blown up from the quantum foam in the spacetime geometry at the Planck scale. Don't worry; the tech is explained clearly in the story. Indeed I found this explanation of a particular quirk of General Relativity more lucid than some popular science books!
In this brilliantly inventive novel only photons, not people, can pass through the wormholes, allowing sight to penetrate any point in the universe's present or even past. The implications of anyone being able to remote view, anyone else, at any time, are worked through in some detail. This is a tech which truly changes the world.
As the novel progress and the wormcams uncover what truly happened in human history, with all it's known and unknown horrors, the novel seems to take a rather dismal view of the human condition. Never fear.The ending is as upliftingly transcendent as it is unexpected. It gave me a blast. You just gotta love those nano-scale Einstein-Rosen bridges!
Truly a novel of ideas. The final one being the ultimate idea of compassion and redemption. I hope it's true!
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on 5 January 2017
The storyline of being able to see everywhere all of the time - present & in the past - for a book written in the year 2000 this was an incredibly brilliant idea. The plot was well thought out and interesting - by looking at the implications and peoples varying reactions to a device which breaks down all barriers of privacy. The authors show what may happen if everyone's private life is ever made public and that it may not only achieve an opening up of previously held secrets but may cause the next generation to think so differently from us that we are unable to relate to them. I only gave this a 4 star because the characters within the novel are to say the least very nervy and somewhat shallow - it is a superb novel for people like myself who want new ideas (even if they are not possible) to permeate their mindsets.
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on 29 July 2013
This book contains two competing stories, one of the invention of the "WormCam", a device capable of remote viewing completely undetectably and its effects on society, and the story of the characters involved in creating, developing and exploiting it. These threads represent classic Baxter and Clarke writing, respectively. And in the beginning the two stories wonderfully complement each other, the characters driving the changes in society and the changes driving the character development.

However, at about the two thirds point, the characters become redundant, and they seem a burden to the story and as a result are written quite boorishly; the awesome descriptive power of both writers vanish and developments happen without building, ceremony or reflection. And, in my opinion, their arc is resolved with short, minimal excuse for a ending. But that precedes one of the most exciting and moving stories of life on the planet Earth, in true Baxter-esque flair carrying his hallmark imagination. And that I believe makes the book wholly worth reading. Even if you do have to suffer characters with only the barest resemblance to human beings from the halfway point.
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