Reed is a stylist. Claiming to have no influences in the SF canon, the Nebraska-based author is very much and individual voice, although there are echoes of Simak in some of his early work.
Since `Marrow', sales of which elevated Reed's profile to the level of best-selling SF author (rather than modestly selling quality SF writer) his books have moved away from mid-America based (yet complex) slow moving tales to a form of post-cyberpunk space opera.
Here, in this sequel to `Marrow', Reed once more employs one of his favourite devices, the near-immortal superhuman, or rather, an entire population of them, travelling through space on a ship the size of Jupiter which has an entire world entombed in its core.
The Great Ship, as it is known, attracts the attention of the polyponds, separate parts of a gestalt Gaian entity which inhabits an entire nebula.
Reed's style here is deeply poetic, stylistically romantic and oddly appropriate for the society he has created. Near-immortal humans on the Great Ship see little change and neither does their society. The almost baroque style seems therefore entirely apt.
Reed is not an author prone to writing sequels, having only done it once before in his career to my knowledge, and one does have to ask how much the conception of `Well of Stars' was influenced by the success of `Marrow'.
Reed occasionally has a problem with ending his novels, and he seems to have left this open for a third voyage on the Great Ship. The ending provided here is somewhat unsatisfying and relies rather too much on a convenient plot twist.
Having said that, his work is generally superior to most other contemporary SF and this is a genuinely decent novel, but one feels that he could have done better, since this is not up to the quality of 'Marrow'.