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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 24 April 2003
Although 'Blood Music' received more attention from the SF community , this is probably the book in which Bear set the standard for his subsequent work.
It's Hard SF/Big Science at its hardest, and in one sense can be seen as a 'Rendezvous with Rama' for the Nineteen Eighties.
Bear should also be applauded for his portrayal of female characters as in this and subsequent novels he places strong female characters centre-stage, in this case, Patricia Luis Vasquez, a young gifted physics student who is drafted in to solve the mysteries of the Stone and becomes important to the plans of all the factions involved.
The plot involves some complex physics and the concept of parallel universes.
It is always interesting to look at authors' views of the future once that future is past and gone. Written in 1985, Bear's future world has become a kind of 'alternate future' since perhaps no-one could have predicted that the abrupt fall of the USSR and the smashing down of the Berlin wall. Here, the USSR is still a superpower, and the Cold War very much alive.
Bear cleverly sets up the East/West ideological divides while Nuclear War destroys the Earth in the background, before bringing in the people of Earth's future. They live in Axis City, a vast mobile habitat which roams 'The Way' (the corridor which stretches along the infinity of parallel Universes) and which is itself divided along ideological lines between radical Geshels and orthodox Naderites.
It's a compelling and scientifically convincing novel, and one of Bear's best.
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VINE VOICEon 10 July 2012
This is a SF novel wide in scope although for me didn't quite hit the mark.

The basic plot concerns a large hollow asteroid that appears in Earth's orbit at a time of rising tension between the Soviets and the US. Exploration of the hollowed asteroid reveals a series of chamber with flora, weather systems and cities, and th politics of the exploration only serves to heighten US/Soviet tensions. The seventh chamber is apparently endless and contains the mysterious 'Way' which distorts space-time and acts as a portal with gates to access parallel universes. Interesting concepts thoughout but many have been done before in previous works, so for me not as groundbreaking as some suggest.

The weaknesses of the novel and the reason I didn't really warm to it for me are many. Firstly the novel is obviously a product of the cold-war age and now seems quite dated. This in itself is something the reader should take as a product of its time, first published in 1985, but in places reads like a cold war thriller set in space. The characterisation is rather poor with too many one and two dimensional characters throughout the novel and some very banal dialogue in places. The descriptions of the asteroid are quite difficult to follow and visualise with some completely incomprehensible psuedo-technological explanations. As the main characters journey down 'The Way' they encounter a future human civilisation which has evolved and developed technology beyond easy description, numerous alien beings, neomorphs, homomorphs and all sorts of other crazy incarnations. There is some difficult to follow political machinations relating to various factions such as the Naderites and Geshels. All round, too many ideas with too many incomprehensible explanations, and far too long. The writing really failed to grip me.

I can see why some people like the ideas and the detail, but for me this really clouded the story; less is more springs to mind. Taken as a whole it seemed a real mishmash of things, including Soviet/US conflict, badly sketched human characters and their relationships, weird aliens and future beings, and difficult to read descriptions. It may be appreciated by the fans of space opera, but I prefer a much punchier style of SF. I'm certainly not tempted to reach for the sequels.
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2002
When I read a little about "Eon" I was intrigued... a hollowed-out asteroid, infinitely large on the inside, it sounded fascinating, and the size promised an epic scope.
And by and large, this is what you get. The book is full of interesting and largely sympathetic characters, with a supporting cast probably in the hundreds. The story is fascinating and I plan to read the two sequels soon.
However, sometimes Bear's descriptive passages become so technical that I actually found it hard to visualise what he was describing (eg: the first visit to the singularity). Also, some of the scientific theory is very complex, but thrown at you and then left for you to try and decipher. I admire authors who use serious science, but I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes I need a helping hand understanding it!
But - this (and the somewhat rushed ending) did not stop me enjoying the breathtaking scope of the mysterious Stone and the adventures of those exploring it. Good fun, but be ready to work at it.
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on 30 May 2015
This is a fascinating book but in some respects hard work. I am glad I stuck with it and the thing that kept me reading was to find out what happened to the characters. I would have prefered if the front end of the book had been speeded up and more had been given over to a fuller conclusion. Perhaps the author has writen a sequel and I need to read that but if so I would have preferred a bigger cliffhanger.
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on 18 November 2015
Eon (and its sequel Eternity) are totally mind blowing. I am not even especially into science fiction, bit it was recommended to me years ago. I still get a shiver whenever I read them. If only they could make a film of them!!!! I bought this copy for a friend as I love mine so much. It came very quickly and was in great condition. Excellent purchase. Many thanks
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on 11 May 2000
This is a five star book, no question... The book itself deals with the human reaction to the discovery of something so incomprehensible as to shake the soul to the core. The plot centres on a typical group of Sci-Fi characters, the scientist, the soldiers, the administrator...... It is in the development of these characters which enriches this complex physics based novel. Speaking of physics, yes the plot does involve spatial geodesical warps, but hey, Bear would have been slagged off if he had have just dropped an infinate trans dimensional tube into the middle of space without at least explaining how it came to be. So, if you like your Science Fiction to give you a head ache and severe insomnia, this is the book for you. However, if you don't want your girlfriend to start sleeping with someone else as she's fed up with being ignored in preferanc of a book, stick to... Asimov.
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on 1 July 2014
Written in 1985, this novel is set in 2005, so readers today will have to make a few mental adjustments and add 20 to every date indicated, or it just falls apart. That's the drawback of setting sci-fi in the near future, with dates, instead of at some vague time in the far future.

By the time he wrote this Bear had hit the formula approach to novel construction. The prose is adequate and competent though nothing in here can be considered literature. Very straight forward, very long winded, hugely readable but ultimately unsatisfying. Shorter novelists of his era put a great deal more into many less words.

The science is just flim-flam. Starts off like its going to be a huge and intelligent revelation, but just backs itself into the usual corner of "so far advanced we can't comprehend it". At least he manages to sound like he knows what he's talking about.

The small details are the most interesting parts of the novel. Computer files are transfered in "memory blocks" -- not far off from flash drives. And 'slates' are used to interface with computers, just like tablets now. But the extrapolation of political and social ideologies falls far from what really happened; we have the hindsight of knowing what happened in the 20 years between the writing of the novel and the year 2005, Bear just guessed, and chose the easy option every time.

This is really an updated version of Arthur C Clarke's "The City and the Stars". Makes for an absorbing read, but in real terms the writing is pretty generic.
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on 11 November 2014
Set in the near future, Earth is recovering from a limited nuclear war. But as a second, full-blown, war looms, an asteroid appears orbiting Earth. Scientists enter the hollowed out rock to discover chambers with cities, cities with parks and libraries, but no life, and in the libraries a shocking historians' description of the future war. And in the seventh chamber, the biggest shock of all - it goes on forever.

I think this is fabulous, hard Sci Fi. Incredible, but made credible by excellent writing and characters that you empathise with, whether current humans or the humans (from a post-apocolypse parallel universe) that built the asteriod and in a flourish of genius created the space-time warp that traverses universes. Even the aliens have character! Sure, the background international relations seem dated now, but I can handle that, and who knew any better, eh? Sounds an ominous tome of a book, but not at all - it's readable, enjoyable, fascinating and challenging all in one; easy to read in a few sittings and it rewards multiple readings.
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on 22 October 2002
Currently into my third reading of the book, it is one of my favourites.
Epic both in proportion and detail, Bear uses science fiction to create a world (not possible!) but easily imaginable.
Taken from a Cold War stance between the US and Russians, the Asteroid triggers war adn tension between the two. The 7 hollowed out chambers hold secrets to the past and future of the human race, with serious implications for the researchers aboard the 'stone' ...
Well worth trying to understand the technical depth Bear gives to the story, and especially the near perfect first half of the book.
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on 25 November 2013
For the first half of the book I was enjoying the fascinating ideas (spoilers): cities built within an asteroid, and the mystery of the endless tunnel. But when everything was revealed I ended up skimming most of the book to get past the bad writing, boring politics and terrible conversations. I realised that it had been my imagination that had been building on the basic big sci-fi ideas, not Bear's writing. He has thought of amazing things to describe and yet doesn't seem to have the writing ability to describe them.

It should also be mentioned that this was written just before the fall of Russian Communism and the decline of manned space missions, and so the future (set in the early 2000s) sets America against Russia in a time of moon bases etc. But if you put that aside it still doesn't alter the tedious writing and the characters who all seem similarly emotionless and cold.

And lastly, a problem with parallel universes: if there are a billion-zillion other yous out there and other realities then the unavoidable effect is that the story of this particular set of characters matters little. They are a blip and their survival or death has no real meaning. I think parallel universes are an idiotic idea anyway - a desperate and unscientific way to explain the amazing possibilities of our own universe - but writers should also understand how using them inevitably destroys the weight of their story.
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