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Marooned in Realtime

(Across Realtime #2)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,147 ratings  ·  216 reviews
Multiple Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge takes readers on a fifty-million-year trip to a future where humanity's fate will be decided in a dangerous game of high-tech survival.

In this taut thriller, a Hugo finalist for Best Novel, nobody knows why there are only three hundred humans left alive on the Earth fifty million years from now. Opinion is fiercely divided on whether
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 2004 by Tor Books (first published 1986)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,147 ratings  ·  216 reviews

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Start your review of Marooned in Realtime (Across Realtime, #2)
This one hit the sweet spot for me. An imaginative tale of desperate missions of individual lives colliding with the compelling need to work collaboratively to save the human race, all placed in the frame on an unusual murder mystery.

Vinge had already used the concept of stasis fields, called bobbles, as a one-way time machine to the future to good effect in his “The Peace War”. The plot there involved a government, the Peace Federation, taking over by bobbling up armies, nukes, government head
Peter Tillman
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
2019 reread. This 1986 novel holds up really well, almost 35 years on. Jo Walton's is the review to read:

Back already? OK, what she said. The Singularity stuff: the idea that it might actually happen in RL is less popular now, but as an sfnal plot device, it's brilliant. And Vinge sets his fictional singularity in the early 23rd century, far enough off that, who knows? The bobbles, spherical stasis-fields that stop time inside them for a preset length (if
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: scifi fans
Shelves: fiction
This was a fantastic little book. Curious - i was taken in by a little glitch in the system because in our library catalog, the book has a pub date of 2006, which i completely believed, all through the book. Actually, it was written in 1986, prior to many of the most significant developments of the internet age. Yet Vinge's predictions as to the development of technology over the course of time seemed right on track. Part of the history of the story involves a war that took place in 1997 - a fac ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: whodunnit, sci-fi
Sharing a fair similarity in style and content to Asimov's classic Robots of Dawn, a far future human colony requires a famous detective to investigate the murder of one of their founders and is loosely partnered with a nine thousand year old partner. It meanders a bit but has a lot of interesting world descriptions, the characters are not exactly rounded but the protagonist is at least interesting. Vinge merges the golden age mystery with far future science fiction very well but I found myself ...more
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 3/5

This is a book that starts with surprises. Surprise one was that it didn't do what sequels normally do: follow up on the foreshadowed crises of the last book. What it did instead was rather fun. Vinge gave consideration to the repercussions of the technological introductions he made in the first book. One can generally criticize authors for plotholes and overlooking details when they introduce technology; it is difficult to see the unexpec
Luke Burrage
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #364.
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I clicked on 3 stars for the rating, but it deserves a bit more than that.

The book has interesting portrayals of how different groups of people might perceive and choose to exist in a far future.

I had a number of reservations about it. First, I read it as part of Across Realtime (an omnibus of The Peace War, The Ungoverned and Marooned In Realtime). Each of the works in omnibus had some threads connecting them to the other, but I didn't think they made a cohesive unit. Rightly or wrongly, I was
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Vernor Vinge's MAROONED IN REALTIME is a murder mystery set in a strange far-future earth. Not long after our time, scientists had discovered a way to create "bobbles", indestructible stasis fields in which time doesn't pass. (For science-fiction aficionados, these are similar to the Slaver stasis fields in Larry Niven's Known Space books.) Bobbles were used to send a variety of people into the future: investors who wanted to "instantly" get rich by taking advantage of centuries of economic grow ...more
Greg Curtis
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
The sequel to the peace war, this is very definately a different book to it.

In the Peace War Vinge introduced us to the bobble and showed how it completely transformed / destroyed society. In Marooned, that entire episode in human history has gone, and we are now travelling with a bunch of survivors from and Earth that was destroyed in some mysterious fashion (none of the survivors know how), towards an unknown future using the same technology as a lifeboat.

In the midst of this, as people bobbl
Tudor Ciocarlie
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Only three hundred humans left on earth. A murder mystery across fifty million years. A meditation on deep time and evolution, on civilization and intelligence.

What more could you want?

A very good book.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-series
Enjoyed the first book, rating brought down by several elements that didn't belong. Those are gone here, but this murder mystery isn't as good. Both books were released together (adding a short story between) in one volume later on. Unlike the other two, this novel would not stand on its own.

The tale kicks off with little introduction, nearly in media res. I fumbled to figure out whether Will was Wili (no) and Della was Della (yes), and where they fit in this timeline. Turns out they are now a L
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Marooned in Realtime takes the premise, ideas and some of the characters established in The Peace War and expands on them to create a fascinating novel which is much better than its predecessor in terms of pacing and character development. And of course, what makes Marooned so effective is the fact it revolves around a murder mystery which is the linchpin that ties it all together. Wil Brierson is a "low-tech" (basically an ordinary citizen like you and me) who served as a cop in a previous life ...more
Doug Luke
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice to go back and revisit a favorite book from when I was younger. Great central SF concept, somewhat interesting mystery, fairly uninteresting characters. Probably 3.5 stars for me.
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wil Brierson is a detective, maybe the last one. Sometime in the twenty-second century, every human on Earth disappeared. The only ones left are those who were, at the time, encased in "bobbles", spheres of absolute stasis that many used to jump ahead through the years... and there are only a few hundred people left, trying to build what society they can by jumping further and further ahead to collect more stragglers. Nobody knows what happened to the rest. But that's not Wil's case. Nor is it h ...more
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover-v
Why I Reread This Book: I enjoyed rereading The Peace War for the SFDG.

Wow. An amazing work indeed.

The Bobble series (for want of a better label) consists of The Peace War, a novella titled "The Ungoverned", and the present book. I reread "The Ungoverned" just before this, and I'm glad I did; it introduces the protagonist, Wil Brierson.

When I first read this book, which I believe I did shortly after it first was first published, I loved it for the ideas but didn't see it as strongly connecte
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
It is ironic that I read the The Peace War by Vinge so that I could read this book, a sequel, because I heard that this book was great. But I liked the Peace War much more. You could call them the Bobble series. Marooned was interesting, and I think I would read it again if I could go back in time. The use of bobbles was extremely imaginative. But the story was a bit flimsy, and the characters were not really developed. I felt like I hardly knew the villains, and they were interchangeable. Never ...more
I first have to say, this book is going straight to the poolroom Best Books I Every Read Ever Ever list, because I love it. The premise is brilliant and the prose is so smooth, it just poured off the page. A book like this is far too rare these days.

It's a sequel to The Peace War only in so far as it's set in the same world, so same tech, same history etc. But it is otherwise completely at right angles to the first book, which is an "Orphan Child is the TechnoJesus" adventure with observant but
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Mcgown
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed Marooned in Realtime. The premise is that time travel is possible, but only in one direction - forward. The mechanism is called bobbling and it puts a whole area and everything inside it in statis . The statis area is protected by a non-permeable bubble that has a mirror finish. The technology in this world has been around since the early 2050s. It has been used by various people to escape their present fates, make money or to get rid of people. At the present is this book, the ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Richard by:
Definitely should be read with — and after — the somewhat better The Peace War , which takes place in the same timestream and introduces some elements important to this book. The novella The Ungoverned (online here) connects that earlier book and introduces the central character used here. All three are in the compendium Across Realtime .

This one is a detective story that takes place in the far, far distant future, long after most of humanity has mysteriously disappeared. The surviving rem
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This novel is published both as a singleton and in the omnibus edition Across Realtime together with its prequel The Peace War.

The sequel to “The Peace War” jumps 50 million years into the future. The 300 remaining humans travel forward through the eons with Bobbles, the invulnerable stasis fields introduced in “The Peace War”. One of them is left behind. The only remaining cop in the world must solve the mystery of why she had to die marooned in “realtime” while the rest jumped ahead in time. T
David Nichols
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Other reviewers on this site have done a fine job describing the plot of this seminal book. I will instead provide links to a short essay I recently wrote about the intellectual path that took author Vernor Vinge to his discovery of the "Singularity," a concept he first popularized in this novel:

I've also composed a timeline of the events in MAROONED IN REALTIME, THE PEACE WAR, and "The Ungoverned," which appears here:
Brent Don
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Vernor Vinge, but - having said that - I was disappointed when I first read The Peace War. Marooned in Real Time is set in the same universe as The Peace War, but is a far better piece; Vinge returns to his style of big ideas and detailed exploration of technology and its implications for human society. It combines a post-apocalyptic-survivor and a detective-murder-mystery story to very pleasing results.
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great fiction from an accomplished writer. It is not a Fire Upon The Deep, but it is still an extremely compelling and rather fast read. Armchair detective novel - except with statis based time travel.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, loved all the far-future implications of bobbles. The plot is a high-tech mystery/adventure set fifty million years in the future and Vinge keeps you on your toes.
Kumari de Silva
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci fi fans, mystery lovers
I give the book 5 or 6 stars for prescient observations. Way back in 1986 Mr. Vinge anticipates the internet style data base of information, along with the pluses and minuses of relying on external memory banks. So many of the issues brought up, how the high-techs hardly seem human, how "GriefStop" does exactly that, are astonishingly well thought out. So why the three stars?

Having not read the first book, "The Peace Wars" I found the concept of the bobbles poorly explained. Eventually I worked
V Nash
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A page-turning super-high-tech murder mystery that spans geological time.

A tech called a bobble can create a bubble that perfectly preserves and protects anything inside it from everything out including the passage of time. The bobble is a suspended universe that effectively lets people travel into the future.

Fifty million years after the population of Earth had reached the technological singularity and disappeared, small groups of people begin to emerge from the bobbles they'd put themselves i
Jamie Rich
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Marooned in Realtime (Across Realtime, #2) by Vernor Vinge

A murder mystery 5o million years in the making. This worthy sequel to The Peace War explores the obvious use of a Bobble, not as a weapon, but as a time machine. What happens when anyone can simply bobble a few thousand, or even millions of years into the future?
And what did happen during the 23 Century to make humanity go extinct?!
But most importantly, who murdered Marts?!
We have a new set of heroes and villains, and one old friend who
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Ah, decent story, plot, twists, etc. with SiFi time travel via "bubbles" in time-stasis that open up whenever you decide, thus you are now in the future. If you've ever read any of the detective mysteries with the character Jack Reacher, you'll see him in the hero of this book, Wil Brierson. This may be a similarity of character type common to the genre (this type of reading for me is for half-concentration on the beach or the plane).

I can't get over the shortsightedness of utopia-explorers alw
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Vinge, Vernor. Marooned in Realtime. Across Realtime No. 2. 1986, Tor, 2004.
I am told that Marooned is the novel that introduced the concept of technological singularity to the science fiction world. Well, OK. But do not expect a huge infodump about it. There are bobbles—the ultimate stasis devices—that have moved a bunch of humans millions of years into the future to a time when human beings have disappeared from the planet. One of their number is abandoned there when a hacker makes everyone el
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SciFiBN: October 2019: Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge 1 1 Jul 04, 2019 04:14PM  

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Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon The Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999) and Rainbows End (2006), his Hugo Award-winning novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for hi ...more

Other books in the series

Across Realtime (2 books)
  • The Peace War (Across Realtime, #1)

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