I read "Binary" by John Lange (a pen name for Michael Chrichton) in less than a day. It is really a novella. It is reminiscent of his earlier works pu...moreI read "Binary" by John Lange (a pen name for Michael Chrichton) in less than a day. It is really a novella. It is reminiscent of his earlier works published under his own name. Science, logic, computers, drama rolled into a "report." Think "Andromeda Strain." I recommend the book although his style and voice had not yet matured. (less)
I just finished reading “Bowl of Heaven” by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. It should be noted that I won an advanced reading copy on Goodreads.com F...moreI just finished reading “Bowl of Heaven” by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. It should be noted that I won an advanced reading copy on Goodreads.com First Reads program. I recommend this book, but with certain reservations. I’ll get to those in just a few paragraphs.
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 while they fly to an Earth-like planet called Glory. The main character, a biologist named Cliff, is rudely awoken from his long chemically-induced slumber. Captain Redwing and a few others are also awoken.
Their ship has approached an anomaly, a bowl-shaped object with a captive red-dwarf sun. The bowl is immense; the size of a solar system and inside the bowl is an unimaginably-sized territory. They find a land of lush forests, deserts, rivers, and seas. They decide to explore the bowl they nickname Cupworld.
The explorers end up divided on this new world. One group is captured and studied by immense bird-like creatures. The other group escapes into Cupworld and is chased by its inhabitants. The rest of this volume is about the experiences of each group with a bit about Captain Redwing hanging about the sky.
That’s basically the story and I hope I’ve avoided spoilers. Now for the reservations. The book is very close to Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” concept. Cupworld and Ringworld are two immense constructions surrounding captive suns. Each world is based on the fictional concept of a Dyson Sphere built around a sun (the actual concept is the more practical satellite rings around a sun and not a construction the size of solar systems).
Each book has its protagonists dealing with the natives of the constructions. Each construction is almost inconceivably old.
The books are not identical though and “Bowl of Heaven” is enjoyable on its own terms. In some ways, "Bowl of Heaven" is more philosophical (and I mean that in a good way) than "Ringworld." But, if you’ve read any of the “Ringworld” books, you will not be able to get the echo out of your head.
One other reservation; the book ends with a note that a second volume will soon be released. Arrgh. I want to know what happens to Cliff, Captain Redwing, and all the others. I have to wait. Sigh. (less)
I read this while on a cruise and did not have time to really sink into Odd Thomas' world. Reading became a bit disjointed as I grabbed time between o...moreI read this while on a cruise and did not have time to really sink into Odd Thomas' world. Reading became a bit disjointed as I grabbed time between other activities. This is a book that pays the reader to spend the time and immerse oneself into the author's creation.(less)
This was one of the quickest reads I've picked up in a long time. The story is very well-known and it is not a spoiler to say that the ship sank. Lord...moreThis was one of the quickest reads I've picked up in a long time. The story is very well-known and it is not a spoiler to say that the ship sank. Lord is the source of most of the detail around the story. He relied on survivor accounts, which are the best information we have on the Titanic. Granted, not all accounts are reliable and there are still questions for which we will never have answers. Not everything in the book is verifiable and Lord points such our in disclaimers in the back of the book.
The story of the Titanic still resonates today. Maybe, it's because of the hubris surrounding the thought that we had actually created an unsinkable ship.(less)