Read Across the Sea of Suns by Gregory Benford Online


In 2021, radio astronomy on the Moon reveals the presence of life by a nearby red dwarf, on a tide-locked planet.[1] To investigate, Earth's governments convert a space colony into Lancer, a Bussard ramjet powered interstellar ship based on the design of a crashed alien ship discovered in the Mare Marginis. In 2061, it arrives and discovers a primitive race of nomads, broaIn 2021, radio astronomy on the Moon reveals the presence of life by a nearby red dwarf, on a tide-locked planet.[1] To investigate, Earth's governments convert a space colony into Lancer, a Bussard ramjet powered interstellar ship based on the design of a crashed alien ship discovered in the Mare Marginis. In 2061, it arrives and discovers a primitive race of nomads, broadcasting using organs adapted to emit and receive electromagnetic radiation. A curious satellite is discovered in orbit, at least a million years old, roughly when a meteor shower destroyed the EMs' civilization....

Title : Across the Sea of Suns
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780446611565
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Across the Sea of Suns Reviews

  • Steve Stuart
    2019-02-15 08:12

    I started this book without realizing it was a sequel to In the Ocean of Night (which seems to be a pretty common problem; the edition I read didn't try very hard to label it as the second in a series). I'm sure I didn't fully understand all of the references to off-stage characters from the previous book, and it took me a while to assemble the back story of how the main character, Nigel, had discovered an alien artifact and had his mind altered as a result. There was certainly no lengthy exposition about preceding events. But in general I like books that toss me into the middle of things and challenge me to keep up, so I didn't feel like I was missing much.Not too many of the characters in this book are likable, including the introspective, grumpy old man protagonist, and it's a fairly slow-paced story, focusing more on shipboard politics and interstellar voyages than on the sporadic action scenes. But it kept my interest, nonetheless. There many interesting speculations about different forms of life, from organic to mechanical and a few hybrid stages in between, and the science is very sound (as always for a Gregory Benford novel).Part of what kept me intrigued and entertained was the clear literary aspirations of the novel, with an experimental prose style and multiple themes and levels of metaphor. These make it stand out from a more run-of-the-mill space adventure.Ship or suit radio communications comprise a significant portion of the book; these are written in a very fragmented and informal style, with little punctuation or indication of who is speaking, but plenty of jargon, slang, regional accents and verbal filler like umm, yeah, right. Apparently sometime in the next century, astronauts lose their formal "This is Houston. Over." radio habits and revert to talking over each other on a party line. This takes some effort to read, but is great at setting a mood, and illustrating the loss of information over radio compared to one-on-one dialogue with visual contact.There are a number of themes and parallels running through the book. I suspect these may strike some as heavy-handed, since subtle metaphors typically sail right over my head. But for the most part they are left for the reader to discover, rather than being explicitly pointed out, and they definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the book. The most thought-provoking example for me was the theme of overzealous response of self-repairing systems, with parallels between Nigel's overactive immune system leading to his increasingly fragile health, and the machine culture's response to living systems. Other examples include the theme of how difficult it is to communicate: between species, between generations, between individuals with different motivations and backgrounds; the theme (or maybe just sound scientific observation) of how it's always more clever to use leverage than brute force to effect a large change, regardless of whether you're trying to wipe out a planet, or steer a group conversation towards your point of view; and parallels between the long voyages, land-based conflicts with hostile forces, and existential difficulties faced experienced by the solitary castaways on both Earth's ocean and the interstellar "sea of suns".

  • Gendou
    2019-01-22 05:12

    Benford's quirky writing styles are endlessly frustrating. The "ship speak" is a tangled mess of different voices carrying on separate overlapping conversations and is impossible to understand. The mixture of hard science fiction and poetry is irritatingly vague.Brilliant physics and exobiology.A strange obsession on gender reassignment...Benford's favorite word is "wan"; he over-uses it!

  • Mouldy Squid
    2019-01-28 01:27

    Part two of a series that has taken almost 30 years to finish. This book real requires having read the first of the series, In the Ocean of Night. I like Benford, I really do. I love Timescape and Artifact. However, both this and the first book have not aged well. While the core story is still interesting and compelling, all of the "extra" seems forced and unnecesary. In the 1970s when they were written, the idea of menage a trois would been cutting edge, relevant and spicy. Now, it seems trite and artificially erotic. Other concerns, like after-peak-oil, environmental crises do carry some relevance but Benford guessed wrong on how the societies would react. Benford spends too much time on character, three way sex and interpersonal relationships to the detriment of pacing. Across the Sea of Suns along with In the Ocean of Night seem like they were great novellas that someone convinced Benford to "flesh out" into full length novels. Pity he did so with decidedly boring junk.Not enough to turn me off of the Galactic Centre Series, since the good stuff was good. There is some widly inventive science fiction here; Benford is good when he isn't segueing with faux-titilation. The plot is compelling, logical and well reasoned. Take out the filler I mentioned above and you would have a tight and entertaining story. I look forward to finishing the series.

  • R. Michael Duttera
    2019-02-10 05:16

    Ah, now the Galactic Center series is beginning to take on the scale I like in my space opera- epic. I liked the episodes that took place on Lancer and vicinity better than the bits about the Earth Invasion and ongoing destruction by the mech "civilization(s?)" Wish Benford would have cut the threesome relationship politics parts out- I think they detract from the main story and are unnecessary; likely the editors wanted some PC, undermine-the-idea-of-nuclear-family-propaganda included, sigh. Oh well, hope the series keeps continuing to improve like this one did over the mediocre first book. Enjoyed this one.

  • Michele (Mikecas)
    2019-01-31 01:16

    (Si riferisce all'insieme dei romanzi: Nell'Oceano della Notte e Attraverso un Mare di Soli)Da: ritorno nel passato abbastanza remoto, per questo mese. Ma un ritorno che ha uno scopo anche didattico, come ormai mi succede spesso. Quello che voglio far vedere è come si è sviluppata quella che è definita oggi la space opera, ma che era semplicemente la Fantascienza all'origine, prima che nascessero le infinite diramazioni che la compongono oggi, ognuna con il suo bravo nome identificativo, e con appassionati litigiosi sul definire a quale specifico sotto-sotto genere appartiene ogni nuovo romanzo. Purtroppo spesso anche gli autori si lasciano condizionare da questa classifazione e cercano di circoscrivere le loro opere all'interno di questa o di quella definizione. Dimenticando che i veri sottogeneri sono nati, come definizione, per definire delle opere specifiche, scritte sotto l'impulso personale dello scrittore che non si poneva certo il problema se stava rompendo qualche schema preesistente tanto da meritare una nuova classificazione. Voleva solo scrivere qualcosa di originale e di piacevole da leggere. Tutto questo solo per dire che le classificazioni vanno sempre prese con le molle, e che un romanzo particolare difficilmente si identifica completamente con una specifica classificazione.Ma la space opera è invece abbastanza riconoscibile, forse per il suo forte legame con l'epoca classica della fantascienza, anche se ha subito fortissime variazioni di tematiche, di visioni globali, ma sopratutto di stile di scrittura. Esiste una space opera moderna, che affronta temi come il superamento della singolarità tecnologica, vedi Vinge e Stross, o cerca di presentare problemi di confronto culturale e/o multirazziale, sfruttando le ultime conoscenze scientifiche e, come deve fare la fantascienza, spesso estrapolandole ampiamente.Cercherò di presentare alcuni dei migliori risultati di questo sviluppo in queste pagine, ma per il momento mi piace porre l'attenzione su un autore che rappresenta una specie di linea di comunicazione tra il classico e il moderno.Gregory Benford è un fisico di professione, e specificamente un astrofisico. La sua attività di scrittore di romanzi di fantascienza non l'ha distolto dalla sua attività principale, e l'effetto è ampiamente visibile nelle sue opere. Nonostante il suo romanzo più premiato sia stato Timescape, basato su una originale visione della possibilità di muoversi nel tempo, e abbia scritto anche altri romanzi singoli di notevole impatto, il suo contributo maggiore alla fantascienza credo risieda nella sua serie detta del Centro Galattico, composta da sei romanzi, di cui solo i primi quattro tradotti in italiano. In questa serie Benford sviluppa un tema originale ed estremamente interessante: data la tipica tendenza della vita organica ad autodistruggersi, lasciando normalmente come residuo una complessità di strutture meccaniche parzialmente intelligenti, nel passare dei millenni e di milioni di specie organiche diverse, è molto probabile che si possa sviluppare una civiltà meccanica, basata su macchine autoriproducentesi, ampiamente intelligenti, spaventate dalla possibilità continua di emersione di intelligenze organiche, diverse una dalle altre ma sempre con una tendenza distruttrice. E quindi la necessità, da parte delle macchine, di prendere ampie misure di protezione contro le intelligenze organiche. Un'ipotesi piena di molti possibili sviluppi e non facile da gestire.In questi due primi romanzi, accomunati dagli stessi personaggi, Benford fa nascere il problema, visto dal punto di vista dell'umanità terrestre, sviluppatasi forse grazie ad un antichissimo scontro tra le macchine e qualche loro oppositore organico, fino alla presa di coscienza da parte di un piccolo numero di superstiti dell'esistenza di questo conflitto, e della sua localizzazione principale nel centro della galassia.Il primo romanzo sembra inizialmente una replica di tanti altri, con un asteroide in normale circolazione nel sistema solare che si rivela invece una astronave aliena che deve essere avvicinata ed esaminata, una macchina automatica in esplorazione per conto dei suoi costruttori, ma resa psicologicamente più duttile dal troppo tempo passato e dalle troppe esperienze. E' un romanzo in cui la costruzione dei personaggi principali è l'obiettivo fondamentale, anche al di là della storia stessa, che ha comunque notevoli aspetti di pregio. Lo stile di scrittura non è perfetto, ma dimostra una attenzione e una cura che lo pongono di diverse spanne al di sopra di opere analoghe dei suoi tempi. Benford non vuole solo scrivere una storia interessante, la vuole anche scrivere bene, e se anche ancora non ci riesce completamente, il fatto che ci provi lo si nota ampiamente.Il secondo romanzo sarebbe space opera pura, nella versione più classica del termine, se non fosse per la particolare cura scientifica posta nella ricostruzione di ambienti alieni, e non solo fantasticherie pseudo-scientifiche, ma sopratutto per la cura dello sviluppo psicologico dei personaggi principali, sia nello spazio che sulla Terra.Alla fine di questo romanzo il tema principale della serie diventa esplicito.>7i>

  • Heather
    2019-02-01 03:34

    “Across the Sea of Suns,” is a brilliant book written by an astrophysicist, and creator of the first computer virus, Gregory Benford. I have no idea why this has been overlooked by the hard sci-fi community. Perhaps it is because it is a blend of hard sci-fi with postmodern stylistics? Superb plotting, exacting descriptive detail on shifting physical phenomena, imaginative and realistic world building and superior exo-biological species development, good human characterization and dialogue.Book Summary - (Some general spoilers but no-giveaways of discoveries or conclusion - hidden within spoiler tag)(view spoiler)[The year is 2056. Some fifty years ago have passed since astronaut Nigel Walmsley made his historic discovery – a long abandoned alien spacecraft buried beneath the crust of the asteroid Icarus – and so changed the face of the universe forever. And it has been thirty years since a lunar observatory picked up a radio broadcast from a nearby star and found it to be in English (hmm?) Armed with the knowledge imparted by the alien’s spacecraft’s computers, humanity has spent fifteen years building Lancer, the world’s first true interstellar starship. Aboard her are hundreds of scientists, men and women who have given up their lives on earth to gain the secrets of the universe. Among them, respected and disliked is the same Nigel Walmsley, whose direct contact with the alien computers has altered his perceptions, making him essential to the success of Lancer’s mission and separating him forever from the rest of humanity. The scientists have been traveling together for twelve years. They track the radio signals back to star system of Ra, planet Isis where there is a curious and ancient in orbit. In 2061, Lancer arrives and discovers a primitive biological species of nomads broadcasting en-masse with organs adapted to emit and receive electromagnetic radiationBack on Earth, global trade commerce is blocked by alien life forms the aggressive ones called Swarmers and the more intelligent ones are called Skimmers. Both are dropped into the oceans to reproduce and the Swarmers attack and sink all sea-going vessels. Meanwhile a lone man, Warren, a machinist by trade, after surviving a Swarmer attack on his ship, becomes lost at sea with no hope of rescue. He gradually attunes to his surroundings, and in turn begins being able to communicate with the Skimmers.Returning to Isis, the encounter with the aliens, called EM’s, doesn’t go well at all, despite efforts from the crew to communicate with them. Before they leave the planet, Nigel as a mathematician is able to interpret some of the earlier transmissions from the EM’s and discovers the historical account of the species up until that date and figures out the reason for their broadcast. The Lancer crew governed by consensus gets a directive from Earth to progress onward to the star system Ross 128, where they will hopefully find a watery world that can help them determine the origin of the threat by the Swarmers.They spend the duration of their next long space voyage cataloging/analyzing the systems and planets that they pass along the way.Walmsley theorizes a connection between the strange satellite orbiting Isis and the EM’s. Almost all the other crew members disagree with his concept and say that the satellite-like object in orbit is simply an old relic or leftover piece of technology. At the next system, Ross 128, a moon like Ganymede they find another strange orbiting rock around it. Once on this moon, which has a surface of ten kilometres of frozen ice, Walmsley comes into a cumulative direct personality conflict with the overseer of Lancer (Ted). Walmsley escapes to the moon in a submersible, where they have been able to penetrate underneath. Avoiding crew-members the Lancer sends out in pursuit, he discovers an origin link to the EMs from before the Watcher came.During this voyage of discovery, news comes in from Earth (delayed nine years by the speed of light) that the Swarmers have begun to evolve at an incredible rate and can now walk on land. Countries each suspect each other, of bio-terrorism and they war against the alien invaders. The link between the Watchers and the bio-threat on earth is established. The crew responds aggressively to this news. (hide spoiler)]However much I like Benford’s writing style for the most part, I am not too crazy about how he portrays relations between women and men. In 1984 when this was written, if Benford had been a little more acculturated to the present day social trends, mores and memes, I think he would have been more cautious in his depiction of women for it is still slightly sexist. Benford tries to give his> women power but does not succeed in empowering them; they end up playing the minority card role. Someone however must have told him at one point that ‘sex sells.’ In this case it added nothing to the book, despite it being a threesome. 4.25

  • Nicolas
    2019-01-29 08:18

    A travers la mer des soleils est le second tome de l’épopée de Benford le centre galactique. Il nous raconte la suite des aventures de Nigel Walmsley, déja rencontré dans le premier tome, Dans l’océean de la nuit. Celui-ci va être envoyé dans l’espace profond, pour tenter de découvrir les systèmes proches du nôtre, et d’y vérifier si la vie a pu ou non s’y établir. Bien sûr, la vie y existe sous une forme étrange, et bien sûr, la civilisation des machines la surveille et tente de la réduire à néant. En parallèle, sur Terre, l’humanité est menacée par des êtres étranges venus d’outre-espace contre lesquels, bien évidement, on ne peut pas grand chose. Heureusement pour moi, je ne m’attendais pas à une histoire formidable, et je n’ai pas été déçu. Dans cette grande fresque, Benford ne fait preuve de presque aucun talent de conteur, et ses capacités à rendre le drame de l’instant font que toute perte humaine est considérée comme dérisoire. Mais ce n’est pas ce qui m’a attiré dans le centre galactique. Ce qui est fabuleux chez lui, c’est sa capacité à faire entrer dans nos petites têtes de lecteurs des concepts aussi dérangeants que la formidable capacité de la vie à se développer dans des milieux on ne peut plus hostiles. Il en est ainsi de la première planète explorée, où des êtres vivants se sont transformés en antennes-radar du fait de l’évolution des conditions de vie dans leur système planétaire. Benford rend également très bien les difficultés de compréhension qui surviennent entre deux espèces foncièrement différentes, que ce soit dans l’espace ou sur Terre. On est ainsi subjugés par les erreurs aussi bien que par les réussites qui ont lieu suite aux tentatives de contact entre une humanité qui s’effondre, aspirée dans une guerre qu’elle ne comprend pas le moins du monde, et des extra-terrestres on ne peut plus étranges. Cependant, il ne faut pas négliger le côté profondément nul des histoires contées par Benford. Le lecteur devine ainsi aisément les différentes manoeuvres politiques qui peuvent avoir lieu, et est globalement indifférent au sort des humains qui s’agitent péniblement. Bien sûr, vous pourrez me rétorquer qu’il s’agit là plus d’une posture de la part de l’auteur, mais je crois pour ma part que cette posture est la conséquence directe de son incapacité à nous plonger au coeur de l’action, et qu’il s’agit plus là pour lui d’une manière de contourner ses propres insuffisances. Ce livre ne mérite en fait d’être lu que si, pour vous, l’exploration des systèmes stellaires proches est fascinante. En clair, si vous avez aimé l’oeuf du dragon (qui est aussi mal raconté), vous aimerez sans doute ce livre, où le fond de guerre entre les êtres biologiques et les machines s’efface assez facilement.

  • Cynthisa
    2019-01-28 08:37

    Definitely more coherent overall than the first Walmsley book (In The Ocean of Night). The plot lines hold together better, at least. The science explained a bit more clearly. But, danged if Benford didn't do it AGAIN at the end of this one: two epic things happen that should be total game changers. But he slips them in so quickly and dryly, that I blinked and had to reread a couple sentences 'cause I thought I'd skipped a page (or chapter!!) But, nope! He really did just leap from C to Z, so to speak. Ooookay.... Kinda makes it hard for me to fully respect Benford when he does this kinda thing. I mean, really! Call it "selfish" of me, but I do believe the author has the obligation to his or her readers to properly plot and pace a book. I mean, that's their JOB, right?!? I'll more readily forgive a book that's flawed throughout (clearly a writer of modest talents) than a brilliantly creative book that fails the last 20 pages. (Now you're just being lazy and undisciplined -- "not living up to your potential" to paraphrase nearly all of my elementary school teachers). That's a plotting flaw that should have been fixed before publication. The author indulged himself along the plot points he wanted to delve into and then just skimmed ahead over other points he realized were necessary to keep his series going. Eh... foo! This book lost its fourth star for this reason. I shall still try the third book though. Still enjoying the "brain-stretch" of Benford's speculative-hard science fiction. Nice to give the old chemistry minor (all those poor brain cells, alas!) a workout now and again.

  • John Loyd
    2019-02-11 01:34

    Across the Sea of Suns (1984)353 pages by Gregory Benford.This is a sequel to In the Ocean of Night, the second book in the Galactic Center series. This book picks up what must be several years later. Nigel Walmsley is older, but still the central character on the Lancer portion of the book. Lancer is a ship/asteroid/colony that Earth sent to Ra to check out a some transmissions. They make contact with the EMs (native life), but are soon ordered by Earth to a new destination. During that trip there is a flashback to Earth, where the seas have been seeded with swarmers and skimmers, a couple of alien lifeforms, which take over the oceans including any human shipping, etc. Nigel treads a line between being a pompous ass and the misunderstood hero. It had been a while since I read Ocean of Night so I was pointed more towards the former, and then all these horrible things were happening, e.g. swarmers on Earth, so it was not heartening at all. There were times when Benford had everybody talking at once, with no note of who was saying what, other than he had one person speak with an accent, and had a character refer to another character. I found that really hard to follow. Then he's coming up with these species as far out as anything that Hal Clement would dream up. The story was much better when I started thinking of Nigel in a favorable light, and when I was able to devote a little more time to reading (instead of 15 pages a night). I'm not going to rush right into reading Great Sky River, but it will be on my list, maybe November or so. I've got a few other books to read in the meantime, plus softball season just two months away.

  • Megs Underwood
    2019-02-08 07:23

    We have here the continuation of Nigel Walmsley's journey, starting from a research base on the moon and heading with alien technology deep into space, where humans suspect someone is trying to signal them from. Meanwhile, the earth is experiencing an incredible and unusual invasion - intelligent aliens seeded into the sea and a host of deadly parasites - that is played out in a survival drama on an island. This island drama is extremely well written, very subtle in all the things implied and what the few survivors are compelled to do; it alone is worth the price of admission.Of course, the grand plan that Nigel is discovering, a titanic battle on an evolutionary scale between organic beings and machine intelligences, is the heart of the story. Benford is brilliant with the details he brings to this, in a long space flight where humans can change their sexes and engage in all sorts of petty intrigues (Nigel as the ever-disobedient iconoclast with his enhanced creative intelligence). It is an interesting vision that moves along quickly and is great intellectual entertainment. Where they end up is equally surprising, both in its outcome and where it points for the humans to try next, in what promises to be a long series.Recommended as excellent hard scifi.

  • Hien
    2019-02-09 07:34

    I read this book quite a long time ago and I remember that I really liked it. It's grim reading since the entire series (this is the second book) is about humans being hunted to near extinction by the mech intelligences. A million years ago the mechs came here and tried to exterminate our near ape ancestors. They were rebuffed by a benevolent organic race. Evidence of the battle can be found on the moon with the wreckage of ships from our benefactors. This time around the mechs are back but they learned from their last defeat. Instead of attacking us directly, they seeded our planet with hostile genetically created lifeforms. Very hostile indeed. Meanwhile, we built an interstellar spacecraft with technology gleaned from the wreckage on the moon. We send the ship out to back track the path of destruction left behind by the mechs.What I really like about this book is the insidious nature of the mech attack. They never revealed themselves and always operate behind closed curtains. Later in the series they reveal themselves and I found that to be a bit of a letdown.

  • David
    2019-01-31 01:08

    Very wide ranging book with a central theme which only becomes apparent towards the very end of the book. Set in effect in three places, the first on the voyage to a planet that has been sending radio transmission to Earth, the second on Earth itself, which is beset by alien invaders who have taken over the oceans, and third on a second planet (in fact on its moon) where other signals have been sent. The underlying theme is the innate capability of humans (civilizations) to manufacture machines that will ultimately lead to their own destruction. These self replicating machines, originally manufactured as weapons of mass destruction, over time evolve to suppress all organic life forms on the planets which they oversee and by the time of the novel are engaged in a never ending war against all organic forms of life in the universe. Interesting book that I enjoyed very much and would recommend as a good scenario as to one of the possible futures of the machine culture.

  • Robin
    2019-01-21 01:36

    This was assigned reading from a sci-fi/fantasy group. In full disclosure - I'm more fantasy then sci-fi but I really found very little in this book I liked.After I got most of the way through it I found out it was book 2 of a series and I'm not sure that not reading the first one was a factor or not. I personally think that books in a series need to stand on their own (my husband is a writer and his books have references so the reader is not "plopped into the middle". I'm not sure that would have made the difference because the real issue was I really didn't care about the people in this book which was the main problem.The only part I found somewhat interesting was the two people on the raft in the ocean. But when they started dropping "messages" I was like - what the heck. I don't think it came off well.Overall a bad rating - I'm not glad I read it.

  • Mj
    2019-02-08 02:31

    From a SF POV, this is another intriguing situation set up by the author. As a novel it has a few drawbacks. First, the back-story isn't very well sketched-in, so it doesn't stand in its own right. You really need to read "In the Ocean of Night" first to get full value from this book.Second it's quite had to believe the political manoeuvring could so easily isolate Nigel. It feels a bit stereotyped that Nigel’s analysis is right, but no one supports him.It ends on a massive cliff-hanger, obviously setting up a 3rd book in the series.Note that this Kindle edition has obviously been published without being proof-read. Whilst there are not as many typos and miss-spellings as there are in "In the Ocean of Night", there are still enough to jolt the reader out of the flow of the story.

  • Keith Vai
    2019-01-30 06:07

    After reading "In the Ocean of Night", I was hungry for more so I picked up this book on Kindle.This book continues the story of Nigel as he seeks out alien technology and tries to explain why we have not heard from any alien race yet. The book is actually two stories intertwined: one in space and one on Earth starting in 2087.The tone and the content are radically different from the first book. This book feels more like a modern sci fi. Although I could not remember what happened next, I felt like I had read the story before as the swarmers seemed very familiar. It is a typical Benford "aliens come to wipe us out" story.Decent book. I didnt enjoy it as much as the first one and it did not motivate me to read book #3 but I probably will eventually.

  • Vanessa
    2019-02-02 08:24

    Spectacularly poorly written. Borderline incomprehensible. In the end, unreadable--and abandoned. It's a shame because it seemed like there was some good hard SF in there, but it was all buried in a cut-and-paste mashup of multiple speakers' half-sentences rendered in an Englishman's caricature of American accents. I think the idea was to convey the way that Nigel perceived many things at once and synthesized them in his unique brain. In the hands of a good writer it might have worked, but Benford's reach exceeded his grasp by a long way. The reader--not having a brain like Nigel's--is first bewildered and then bored.

  • Jerico
    2019-01-30 09:10

    Tighter and more cohesive than its predecessor, Across... Is another good book that splits its narrative into a space and an earthbound thread. The space thread is a little chaotic but packed with the kind of imagination that stretches the mind and engages the sense of wonder that insane scales inspire. The earthbound segments are written better, and follow a shipwrecked sailor going through a first contact scenario of surprising subtlety. Better but still not as good as the later books in style or content.

  • Bill
    2019-01-24 07:18

    Some interesting ideas, but also huge internal inconsistencies (they travel at 0.98 light speed, fine — but they're encountering multiple life-bearing planets within 9 light years of Earth?) and with too much needlessly "arty" (at least unconventional) writing. Also? Anticlimactic.Took me forever to finish reading it — this book put me to sleep faster and more consistently than any in recent memory.Frankly, I'd love to see Benford, or someone else, start from scratch with the ideas and characters and rewrite this turkey.

  • Tufty McTavish
    2019-02-16 09:20

    Some of this is a tough read, especially the collective conversation pieces aboard Lancer. It also feels a bit disjointed with kinda parallel threads, and an oddly runway ending that, frankly, lost me for a bit in the run-up to the final scene which seemed to end far, far too quickly. Just as it got interesting again after a confusing sequence it's turn, turn, turn, and over, without detail or build-up.

  • Jason Voegele
    2019-01-31 04:24

    3.5 stars.A much more even and consistent work than its predecessor, In the Ocean of Night, this book is an engaging read throughout even though it suffers somewhat from a pseudo-literary style. Benford is at his best when he's working with the big ideas and falters a bit when he's writing about people and personalities and social science.

  • Miguel Ángel
    2019-02-09 06:12

    It was quite exciting at the begining but then the story started to being more and more confusing and dull for me, then when I realized that It was part of a saga, I just wanted to kill myself because there was no sense in reading a book that is not the first part on a saga specially when it's about science fiction, anyhow this book did get one thing right, it brang my imagination to the limit for me to create in my mind the landscapes and scenarios where the story was developed.

  • Linda Hollingsworth
    2019-02-08 09:36

    This is dense epic science fiction, presenting fascinating descriptions, provocative ideas, and an oftentimes compelling story. Be warned that this is part of a series and perhaps the easiest book to get into it, rather than the actual first book in the series, which is really dense with background material.

  • Frank
    2019-01-17 02:30

    Back in the day with the "Killer B's", Benford, Brin and Bear we had an embarassment of riches in galaxy spanning hard SF. SO-called hard SF Is not what the market wants right now, maybe THE MARTIAN will whet an appetite. Thus was a good continuation. Read in order.

  • Linda
    2019-02-14 04:19

    I had a hard time getting into this one. That isn't to say it isn't interesting. At times it is, but I can't help but be annoyed by the way people behave, particularly the protagonist and that makes reading the book a bit of a chore.

  • LKM
    2019-01-17 09:09

    The story sounded like it might have been interesting, if I could have understood what the hell was going on through the book. I could not get into the writing style at all, it was confusing half the time (or most the time), and I didn't much care for the characters either.

  • Robert Bogdon
    2019-01-29 04:34

    While the story itself is interesting, the main character is a drag on the story throughout the entire book. When combined with the attempts to write overlapping dialog, this book is just as tough of a read as the first one and I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

  • Tad Deshler
    2019-01-21 06:20

    The trouble with a long book series like this is that each book seems to reveal only a part of the story. The identity and motivation of the various alien species remains deeply mysterious, which will become increasingly tedious unless resolved soon.

  • Paul
    2019-02-15 03:29

    What a travesty of bad writing. I think I want to coin a few phrase "Clark Syndrom" where brilliant and amazing Sci Fi ideas are lost in horrible story telling. If this book didn't have the first 5/8th of the book I would probably have given it a 5 star rating.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-23 09:34

    Hmm.... Im beginning to muddle up the Brin/Benford/Pournelle/Niven universe. Much of it seems derivative since it obviously didnt make much of an impression.

  • Howard
    2019-01-23 07:31