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City at the End of Time

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,945 ratings  ·  263 reviews
In a time like the present, in a world that may or may not be our own, three young people–Ginny, Jack, and Daniel–dream of a decadent, doomed city of the distant future: the Kalpa. But more than dreams link these three: They are fate-shifters, born with the ability to skip across the surface of the fifth dimension, inhabiting alternate versions of themselves. And each ...more
Paperback, 476 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Del Rey (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.16  · 
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 ·  1,945 ratings  ·  263 reviews

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Bill Wellham
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well.... I read all the reviews on this site just before I started reading. They almost put me off before I got going. But I have to say I am glad I persevered.

YES this book is slow, but I believe that not all books need to be written to the tempo of the current popular demand of the genre. The complex ideas in this story maybe too difficult to take in at a quicker speed. I enjoyed the walking pace; it allowed the characters to build up, and the weird science to slowly fall into place.

YES it
Jun 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious. Difficult. Disappointing.

This book is a perfect example of a failure of editing. Well over a full third of this material could have been removed and nothing about the story would have been affected. The one character written to have any semblance of a character arc is a minor character at best. The reader instead gets to follow some incredibly bland and passive characters just waiting for the end to arrive. When that end does come around, it is painfully obvious that it has been phoned
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Or the 'Slow Painful Death of Reality'...

There's a brilliant tale somewhere in 'The City at the End of Time', it's a book full of pregnant thoughts and weighty expectations but in the end I admit I was left just as unfulfilled as I did when launching into this difficult piece of prose. By splitting his story between so many characters Greg Bear risked spreading his story too thin but in fact it's perhaps the characters themselves that let the grander tale down.

The story follows several sets of
Oct 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
I read this book like a 5-year-old would eat spinach. Their mother told them to eat it, they know it's good for them, but it just tastes. So. Bad.

I really wanted to like this book. I found the premise interesting - two different cities in very different locations/times/situations, and some of their inhabitants who dream about each other. Oh, and time must be ending, because that's what the title of the book implies. How fun! (sarcasm.) Being a fan of wibbly-wobbly sci-fi, I thought this book
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good piece of work, both inside and out. Bear nails the right tone for reading this book at night, in bed, lights off, with a flashlight on your head. It is a gentle tale of upheaval. It sets a cozy film noir mood, includes a couple of square jawed, thick-fisted, 40's style characters, and I enjoyed the lift as the story bent my mind around semi-solid matter. The cool cover soaks right through the book's pages, already full of nice looking font, to give this fatalistic end-story ...more
Jon Mountjoy
This was disappointing. I'm a huge Greg Bear fan - ever since the wonderful Blood Music. But this book has vast tracts of boring chapters. It's a book that is screaming for an editor - snip out at least a third of the long preamble to the finale and it would get another star, maybe two.
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a real brain twister. You get dropped in in the middle with very little explained, but with patience things become revealed. I actually like this plot style of starting in the middle and gradually revealing information that makes you reflect back and realize what was happening earlier in the book. Anathem by Neal Stephensen, and Rant by Chuck Pahlaniuk do this as well. This book askes a lot of your brain to suspend a sense of order to try to grasp the chaos, and ride the lines of ...more
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good god.

I started this one because of his critical acclaim for a previous book, all the while ignoring the vast selection of bad reviews on Goodreads; never again.

I took home a few things from this one:
1, he is an intelligent author.
2, having listened to this in audiobook format, actually reading the book probably could have helped in following the storyline.
3, there is no way in hell I would have read this in its entirety (too out there).

If the rating scale allowed for more variance, I
Aug 15, 2008 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, especially Bear fans
If anyone knows where Neil Stephenson and Greg Bear ran off to, please notify the authorities.

Eli Bishop
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-sff
What a strange stew of familiar parts, and it really pretty much works. It starts out with a far (FAR) future bunch of post-humans living in an impossible kind of place, a little like Eon. Then there's a present-time thriller part, where people with odd talents are being chased by scary scariness with hints of cosmic historical depths, and this part reads like a mash-up of Tim Powers and Clive Barker (and I wouldn't be surprised to find some Charles Williams on Bear's shelf too). These keep ...more
Jul 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: More hardcore Bear fans than myself
What happened, Mr. Bear?

There was a time when I loved your books without question. I studied molecular biology in part thanks to the mad dystopia of _Blood Music_. I cherish my hardcover copies of _Eon_ and _Moving Mars_. You dreamed up some truly fascinating hard SF.

Then you started writing lousy thrillers, but I thought to myself "Hopefully he'll get that out of his system and go back to his forte".

Seriously, Mr. Bear, what happened?

In the first 25 pages of this book, Bear introduces five
Althea Ann
A very competently done mainstream political thriller. It actually reminded me quite a lot of 'Cobweb,' but less quirky.
As in Cobweb, the threat is that Bioterror is Happening Right Here in the USA! Here, the bio-crap involves a nutty racist religious cult, a loner psycho, and a genetically messed-up, emotionally disturbed, AWOL FBI agent, who are trying to convince Israelis and Arabs separately that their product can genetically target their racial enemies for death.
Although, as I said, this
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2009
I wish that I would have reviewed this when I first read it. I simply loved this difficult read. It is a hard sci-fi that jumps time periods, alternates chapters frequently, and at times can be a bit confusing. It does however have a great underlying story that really comes together at the end. As a hardcore science fiction geek, this novel had it all for me, and I highly recommend it for lovers of the genre.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio version of this book one summer while I had a serious amount of weekly driving, otherwise I'm quite sure I would have given up. I was expecting science fiction, and ended up with some kind of odd present-day / futuristic fantasy.

As another reviewer puts it, this book was tedious and disappointing. There was quite a lot of mystery and intrigue building up throughout the book, with its parallel and intersecting plot lines, but the end was a huge, clichéd letdown.

F.J. Bergmann
Dec 18, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Alternates between a very bad imitation of Tim Powers, and pseudo-poetic surrealistic gibberish. I read it all the way to the end hoping it would finish with an unpredictable payoff. No such luck. What a disappointing waste of time.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I kept hoping that by the end everything would become clear. But in the words of two of the characters (were they really the same character in different possibilities / times / universes?), it is "not to be known."
Hanna-Anneli Belt
This book is not among my favourites of Greg Bear's novels. It's too long and slow-placed and above all, too weird and surreal. Weirdness is good and fascinating in a proper measure, but too much of it spoils the story and makes it pointless and incomprehensible.
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
In an unimaginably distant future the threads of reality are finally starting to fall apart into a Chaos where the laws of physics break down. But this isn't the natural end of Everything, but a potentiality known as the Typhon that is preying on the old Universe in its attempt to create a new one. Life is eventually beaten back to The Kalpa, the last city in existence, which fights back against the Typhon with reality generators to keep the Chaos at bay. Meanwhile, in present day Seattle three ...more
John Montagne
Two stars for an author who has produced some fantastic space opera and nonfiction. The superb detailing in the novel deserves a star alone, and I feel the idea and elaboration on the complex metaphysical issues of a city at the end of time another... But after those points are put aside, I have to say this novel was a real struggle to finish. The narrative sequencing was just too abrupt and confusing, further complicated by Bear's talent for detailing. These complications in turn made it hard ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, fantasy
Wow. There's a lot going on in this book. Within the first 30 pages, we meet 10 people who are in what seems like three different realities/points in time. Eventually you learn there are only two points: Ten Zeros (10,000,000,000 years after Earth's creation) and Fourteen Zeros (100,000,000,000,000 years after Earth's creation. At least, I think that's what that means. People can move their awareness into alternate versions of themselves in the future, which is apparently Bear's definition of ...more
An incredibly tightly written book and may be his best since Queen of Angels or maybe even The Forge of God. The is very different for Greg Bear in that you are brought slowly along and he allows the story to develop at its own pace, which is brilliant and yet will be off putting to some. Bear does not explain much and writes a disjointed book that is jarring as it enfolds and leaves you with wondering what is actually happening, and it work wonderfully. I actually see this as more fantasy than ...more
I had to read most of this in one day as it needed to go back to the library by the end of today. Having said that, it's not a book you can rush through. It's complex, imaginative and still manages to feel plausible despite the far-future premise. It makes you think even as you follow the characters through the different time strands - and crucially, it's not difficult to get the hang of the structure of the book. Locations and times are clearly indicated at the start of each chapter and this ...more
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of Greg Bear's stuff, but this book really blew me away. It's so different from what I've read before, that I had a hard time; a) figuring it out, and b) deciding if I really liked it. It also took me longer to read, because I had to stop and think about things, to make sure I understood everything. I love books about time travel, and the concept for this one is very different. It starts with this sinister entity devouring the universe, and protagonists traveling the time lines ...more
Dev Null
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I guessed the "twist" at the end of this on page 33 - it came to me in such a moment of clarity that I folded down the corner of the page. I don't take any credit for that though; I don't think I guessed it because I was particularly clever, I think Bear did a masterful job of leading me to it. As a result, the book has a sort of ponderous baroque inevitability to it, as things slowly draw to their predestined close, that perfectly matches the subject. The casual unearthly menace of the hunters ...more
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoyed the movie Dark City.
Shelves: fiction
An interesting and dark story, I was most fond of the middle portions of the book which follows two or later three sets of characters each in a dark yet hopeful situation. Unfortunately, in the last 40 pages or so this balloons to 5 or 6 sets of characters. At that point the writing got a little too much like "short attention span theater" to hold my interest. By the conclusion everything felt rushed with little opportunity to take in the scenes and a focus on trying to keep every important ...more
This is a review of the CD sound recording of City at the End of Time

So here's the thing.....I thought I really liked Greg Bear's stuff. After (attempting) City at the End of Time and after reading some of the reviews of a few of his books, I think maybe I just hadn't read enough to form a truly educated opinion, though. The story just seemed to go on-and-on-and-on. Had it been 1/2 or 2/3 as long, it might have been really good. The concept of the end of time isn't original, but Bear's ideas
Devlin G
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off: This book was amazing in vision, illustration, and concepts! Hard to follow at times, but I loved it. The concept of Fate Threads was really interesting, and I like how it was implemented and explained. The switch between "10 zeros" and "14 zeros" (10,000,000,000 years after the beginning of the universe and 1,000,000,000,000 years after the beginning of the universe)was a little confusing, but once you got used to it, the book was really interesting. Good for anyone who is ...more
The minor villains are by far the most fun part of the novel, and given the ending, not really villains at all, despite inverting people's hearts and flitting about like a moth.

The rest of the novel is a big old creation myth about the power of words, to be quite truthful it does drag a bit especially at the end.

The universe is being eaten away by Typhon in a whirl of not-especially-chaotic chaos, some efforts are made to reboot creation, it is all quite well thought through and he does write
Joe Yellin
Sep 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most boring and tedious works of fiction I have ever read. This is a perfect example of a book that I read the back cover and liked how the premise was described, but, the execution of the story by the author plodded along to an anti-climactic ending leaving me wishing I had spent the countless hours I spent reading this, reading more worthy and interesting works of fiction. I had high hopes when I picked up this book because I had heard the author was extremely talented. Not that I ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cat lovers
Deeply weird, compelling, and mysterious, by turns chilling and sublime, every page packed with amazing imagery, this book was an absolute joy to read and thrilled right to the very end. The plot wends a corkscrew path between quantum mechanics and the metaphysical, unfolding before the characters' eyes -- some of the present day, some of a distant and alien future, some who seem to exist outside of time entirely. This is a story that almost demands repeat readings, promising a new experience ...more
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Greg Bear is one of the world's leading hard SF authors. He sold his first short story, at the age of fifteen, to Robert Lowndes's Famous Science Fiction.

A full-time writer, he lives in Washington State with his family. He is married to Astrid Anderson Bear. He is the son-in-law of Poul Anderson. They are the parents of two children, Erik and Alexandra.
“You are what you leave behind.” 3 likes
“You seem to like helping, taking care of people," he said. "That is admirable."

"You enjoy being nurtured?"

"Well, that isn’t all you promise. When you touch me, I feel a fire at my center. You want me to grow and find my true story, my purpose. You seem to want to be there when I see new things. You want to share and enjoy my discoveries.”
More quotes…