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3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The internationally renowned scientists who wrote Wheelers and The Collapse of Chaos team up again to pen an intriguing new SF novel. All Second-Best Sailor wants is to sail his boat and trade with the wandering Neanderthals. But when the reefwives discover that a Cosmic Unity mission fleet is heading for his homeworld, his comfortable lifestyle vanishes in an instant. All ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 30th 2009 by Aspect (first published May 11th 2004)
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Huw Evans
Jan 17, 2014 Huw Evans rated it it was amazing
Ian Stewart is a mathematician and Jack Cohen a reproductive biologist and over the years they have had a close association with Terry Pratchett. Jack is also a xenobiologist who has advised film and television producers on the fact that life (as we know it) is not necessarily carbon based nor bipedal. This book proves the point magnificently. I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to read it. I hope this review encourages other readers not to make the same mistake.

Second Best Sailor is a mal
Nov 11, 2009 Bryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, sf
I've never read a book with such incredible diversity of alien life!

I've always struggled with TV SF (such as Star Trek) where all aliens are basically humanoid. In the past, I found the best work on aliens was done by author James White (particularly in his Sector General series of books).

But this book raises the bar on developing alien lifeforms in SF. The biodiversity (including varieties that are comprised of not much more than energy) and their basis for sentience (including several whose
Jan 19, 2010 Bookbrow rated it really liked it
In the tradition of Robert Forward, two scientists team up to write this novel, and it's a fun ride with wonderful invention and a host of great aliens, the story reminds me of classic Vernor Vinge in its wonder and scope. It makes you wish they wrote more novels.
May 21, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
I know the authors only as Pratchett's collaborators on the _Science of Discworld_ series. (The only _Science of..._ book concept that's worth reading.) (Hm, and Ian Stewart did _Flatterland_, one of the many _Flatland_ riffs that isn't.)

This is SF-realist high-tech space opera, of the type that Greg Egan and Iain M. Banks write -- which is obviously a wide range of writing. This example tilts heavily towards the Egan side, although the long technical digressions aren't *quite* as opaque and the
Aug 18, 2012 Saara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The dissemination fleet of the Church of Cosmic Unity is fast approaching the aquaseous planet of No-Moon where the primary sentient lifeform is a race of polypoids. They have come to spread the message of love, tolerance and peace. A good, commendable mission, right?


During the course of a bit over 400 pages we discover just how twisted the Memeplex has become and are treated to scenes of an all-out war on more than one front. We are introduced to characters that can be reprehensible but i
Jesse Mathewson
Mar 14, 2014 Jesse Mathewson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I would recommend this book as a perfect approach to understanding the interwoven nature of the world, universe, galaxies and more. Everything is alive, everything. A truly great look at the idea of memplexes and the progression from positive to negative that all belief systems unfortunately tend to take, including government/state.
Oct 05, 2007 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Alternative life forms abound and the story (humanoids imposing religious dogma on aliens, replete with new technologies, hints of supreme beings, end the emotional tie ins necessary to keep you engrossed) gets tied up nicely in the end.
Dec 16, 2014 Fern rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blew me away from the very beginning. Interesting, well rounded characters with a plot that keeps you turning pages. Everything I have come to expect from great science-fiction.
Aug 09, 2011 Ohenrypacey rated it liked it
Mar 22, 2010 Thom rated it liked it
Shelves: past-reads
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Ian Stewart is an Emeritus Professor and Digital Media Fellow in the Mathematics Department at Warwick University, with special responsibility for public awareness of mathematics and science. He is best known for his popular science writing on mathematical themes.
--from the author's website

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