Bowl of Heaven
pg 111/412: Very traditional, Ringworld or Rendezvous with Rama-like sf novel. Should take me only 10 hours to read. Has got plenty of science, space, and aliens, but it's not bogged down in it. None of that singularity stuff.
pg 215/412: Hey, I'm halfway though. I just might finish this thing. Although it's more of a jungle story now that they're on the inner bowl surface. But there's still some interesting science that comes into play. A cool thing about this environment is different areas have...more
1. Each book should stand alone as a story - but this book is just an introduction that sets up the situation. And a pointlessly looooong introduction at that.
2. Ridiculous Action - A colony ship with thousands passengers and the captain decides to drive it up a dangerous plasma stream because its fun and faster? A ground crew is sent to INVADE the first ever encountered, clearly inhabited, alien ship with no recon or communications? And so on. Its impossible...more
I should say the pacing was good right up to the point that Larry Niven/Gregory Benford dozed off and forgot to write an ending. Seriously. The book just stops mid-story with nothing resolved. Don't re...more
Scenario: There's a strange megastructure artifact in space, and some curious folk want to take a look-see. The premise, quite a well-traveled science fiction road, recalls favorites such as the ring of Larry Niven's Ringworld, the cylinder in Arthur Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama, the sphere in Bob Shaw's Orbitsville, the pipes in Alastair Reynolds's Pushing Ice, even the hole through the planet in Benford's own
Tides of Light Furious Gulf.
I picked up "Bowl of Heaven" because I promised myself to read everything about the first contact with...more
And in any event, this Gregory Benford/Larry Niven coll...more
This novel does rate high marks for its imaginativ...more
First because there's no indication it's #1 of 2, and Tor has to be aware that many of us don't read reviews before reading the book.
Second because of the many errors pointed out by others -- although I admit that perhaps half the errors were simply from putting the wrong character's name in.
A good editor would have caught the errors, and also spotted the parts that dragged and meandered and added nothing.
Cliff and Irma? Clumsy and unnecessary. I'll bet the publishers made them...more
A starship from Earth, whose crew is mostly asleep, encounters a large, strange object. Like Niven's Ringworld, it's a ring around a star, but this one is shaped more like a bowl. Millions of miles across, it has a hole in the bottom of the bowl, through whic...more
Early in their adventures, a group encounters a large animal emerging from water....more
The reader often feels immersed in the st...more
In some senses, the aliens are a bit stupid. For example, at one point our heroes basicall...more
The “Bowl of Heaven” opens with a party on Earth. The crew and builders of a star ship are celebrating the incipient launch of the ship. In it, the crew, except for a rotating cadre of watchkeepers, will sleep for hundreds of years w...more
At 85% we get this wince-inducing moment: "Long silence. Terry glanced at Aybe, and Cliff suddenly remembered that one of them was gay. Which one? For the life of him, he could not remember. Damn! All...more
The story begins with a group of scientists, technicians and assorted others who board a large spaceship for a 500 year journey to a...more
In a nutshell, this is a hard science fiction, first alien encounter, constructed world saga of the best kind. If I hadn't already read the Ringworld series I probably would have given this a fifth star, too much of the story was derivative or predictable. The plot moves along, different perspectives are provided (including alien), and the provided diagrams helped make...more
Okay, it's hard to live up to "Ringworld" standards with every book you write. But for the past decade Larry's been relying more and more on collaborations for his books, and the results are not always as good as this reader would like.
"Bowl of Heaven" falls into that category on the "worse than usual" side. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine book when taken all by itself. But if you've read "Ringworld" (and if you haven't, for heaven's sake run out and rea...more
In spite of the title, this is not a dish of death by chocolate ice cream. In some what stereotypical Niven fashion, a starship comes upon an immense artifact (ala Ringworld) on their way to explore a new planet.
The artifact is a shipstar, no typo, a ship being powered by a star full of new sights, strange creatures and great adventure. In spite of the comparison to Ringworld, the book isn’t just Ringworld warmed over. The premise is somewhat simi...more
Firstly, this book was filled with confusing and vaguely-described areas that seemed to depend mostly on the...more
But this book is so rife with error as to migrate a nuisance into a deep embarrassment. A character is captured by aliens @ p. 104, then reappears, patching up a wound at p. 106. This is the point where I got really tired of the sloppiness, not the sole example. Not to mention that...more
I'm a fan of co-author Larry Niven and was looking forward to some "big idea" science fiction similar to his Ringworld or The Mote in God's Eye, which he co-authored with Jerry Pournelle. I've read little by the other co-author, Gregory Benford, who also writes "big idea" science fiction but whose prose I don't like as much.
Unfortunately this book's editor should never have allowed it to be published in its current condition. It badly needed another couple e...more
First nowhere does in on the cover or description does the book mention it is the first book of a series. If I had known it was part of a s...more
The critics have it right, the characters are cardboard, the plot is nonexistent, for a hard-SF setup, there is an embarassing number of gaffes, and the clichés, repetition and bad editing are a problem -- personally, I was most annoyed by the constant conflation of flight time with earth time in terms of the experience of the astronauts. Makes no sense -- but I didn't much care. Mostly, this is an exotic wil...more
Was expecting more from a killer Bee. Rather unimaginative, no mind bending concepts (other than in scale) and not much science either. More of an adventure set in a somewhat odd environment. If this ever made it to the silver screen, I'd see it as a Saturday double feature matinée followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
I put this together...more
Seems there are quite a few low ratings for this book on GoodReads.com; I think this just shows me to be a bit old-school when it comes to my sci-fi. I rather liked the book and didn't mind that it didn't try to cram in more singularity kinds of stuff.
The book sets the story in a quasi Dyson sphere (only 1/2 of a sphere) with lots of different aliens and eco-systems. The science explored here ranges from realistic interstellar flight to evolution and brain science. While the story has plenty of...more
As a science fiction author, Benford is best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare wit...more