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on 8 July 2011
To me, this shows its age (first pub. 1992). A more psychologically modern version of the long-duration spaceship concept can be found in Baxter's Ark. There, the kids really do screw each other up. Narratively, there's a bit too much authorial exposition for my tastes. Why can't we discover things through the characters, and not be told constantly? Again, more modern SF authors have mastered this, more mature, style of storytelling. Mieville's Embassytown would be a good example; there you feel that the characters have no idea what's going on, so why should you?

On the positive, there's a mystery about the book that keeps me going (I'm about 200 light years in it seems, about half way). Who are the Benefactors? Are the Killers really guilty? The concept of the galactic consortium is fascinating, especially as Bear has kept it real, and not cheated by having hyperdrive or anything. There's a bit of quantum entanglement-type superluminal comms, but basically travellers have to wait and see, and travel to find things out. In this sense, the plot dynamics resemble maritime adventures of old rather than modern day urban adventures. So four stars for the actual book.

I think I'm being let down by the Kindle format. There's a smattering of OCR errors, but also it seems the major jump-cuts in the scenes that I'm experiencing aren't really there. It's as if the original pages' double paragraph spaces at the end of scenes (after 5000 words, say) have been lost, so that everything is banged up tight against the next bit. There's only a few major numbered sections, so I'm having to keep a look out for the changes in context, and put the breaths back in myself. Don' t they test these things? -1 star for that clumsiness.
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on 19 December 2010
A truly amazing piece of science fiction, much better than the first in the series. The children on the ship must make a decision whether or not to destroy a 10 planet system, engineered in incredible ways and populated by a number of intelligent species. Did one of those species create the technology that destroyed earth? Or by destroying them, would the children be as bad as those they seek revenge upon? By far my favourite Greg Bear book.
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on 27 August 2014
I first discovered Greg Bear when i read Eon and then Eternity. I frequently re-read these books, as they are breathtaking in their scope and imagination. This one will be re-read as well. Marrying the character interplay with interstellar warfare that has your mind lit up like fireworks, it's difficult to put the book down.
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on 20 September 2014
This is up there in my top 10 sci fi books, along with Ender's Game, Rendevous with Rama, and Use of Weapons.
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on 29 December 2017
Exactly as shown and described. Well packaged.
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on 16 February 2013
A long - too long - tale of interstellar travel, which lacks the punch of other science fiction stories I have read. Not his best work.
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on 13 March 2014
Brilliant book. Out of the box thinking of defensive weapons, strategy and how humans would meet superior challenges 'out the'. A great read
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on 27 December 2015
This story was one of frustration, annoyance and perseverance. Frustration at the slow story line and excessive characterization. Annoyance at the integration of Peter Pan into the storyline, which got very tedious very quickly. Perseverance, this book took over six months to read, during which I read numerous other books.

Greg Bear fans will enjoy the scale of universe brought to life. However, unlike many of his other books the characterization are excessive.

Was it worth it? Yes, if you have a strong desire to read the conclusion of this story come what may.
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on 6 July 2011
Conceptually it's a sequel to the Forge of God, however, it can be read on its own as a self-contained story. The surviving children of Earth equipped by their saviours, the Benefactors, travel the galaxy in order to avenge Earth's death. The problems they face are more spiritual rather than technical: how to keep morale and cohesion in a confined space, how to judge guilt and distinguish innocence, what punishment is fair and deserving? They also have to fight a developing suspicion of their Benefactors' motives and level of co-operation. The scale of the novel is huge and some of the ideas are very interesting and The author touches on many a philosophical and ethical questions here but also laces the whole novel with some clever quantum physics concepts so hard sci-fi fans won't be disappointed. Great read!
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on 12 February 2007
The reviewer before me has already done a very good job and I agree with him entirely. However, this book is so good and so unusual in its themes that it is worth reiterating many of them:

A truly enveloping pathos that, in conjunction with the setting and the storyline, gives the book an intense and profound emotional backdrop;

A great underlying sense of unease that remains pretty much throughout the story;

A very effective and intriguing use of science, and very imaginitive use of differing physical and environmental conditions in other places in the universe;

The author doesn't shy away from any of the 'issues' that the story leads him to and deals with all of them very effectively;

Lots of novel and original ideas (indeed, the story itself is entirely unique) such as, how to deal with the immensity of the distances you would need to travel in space to get anywhere (and the time required);

A genuinely satisfying conclusion to a story written over the course of two books.

If you enjoy being mentally stimulated and intrigued in ways that can only be achieved by the best sci-fi- writing, then you really should read this book - this book, IMO, exemplifies the work of an author who exemplifies the very reasons for which I read sci-fi. (Actually, I'm certain that non sci-fi readers would enjoy this book - there's even a way in which it made me think of Lord of the Flies!).
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