Read The Crucible of Time by John Brunner Online


There are some incredibly smart things Brunner does in this novel. The story is told from the perspective of a world of intelligent aliens as they reach out to discover the universe in which they live. They have to do that in ways that are very different from our own history in details (for example, they live under water where access to the night sky is limited, which putsThere are some incredibly smart things Brunner does in this novel. The story is told from the perspective of a world of intelligent aliens as they reach out to discover the universe in which they live. They have to do that in ways that are very different from our own history in details (for example, they live under water where access to the night sky is limited, which puts a crimp in early astronomy), but very similar in the abstract. The similarities arise for the simple reason that the universe in which they live is THE universe. The message here is deep & subtle & important: reality is what it is, & no matter what kind of body you have, no matter what specific environmental niche you occupy, if you are smart enough to wonder about the world you live in, & clever enough to discover ways to ask your questions well, you will discover the same immutable facts about the nature of things. Brunner shows this without ever giving a lecture or explicitly making the point. It's a story telling tour de force that really puts the science solidly in the center of science fiction....

Title : The Crucible of Time
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345312242
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Crucible of Time Reviews

  • Richard
    2019-01-23 18:09

    Okay, I finally finished this — but, frankly, I'm not sure it was worth the time spent. Oh, don't get me wrong: this was interesting enough to warrant four stars. But in some way, it was still a chore to read.The basic idea: Brunner created a completely alien world (humanity plays no role whatsoever in this story) and follows the development of their intelligent species beginning with the technologically primitive and ending with their escape to the stars as a space-faring civilization.But he had to invent such an alien world that I sometimes stuggled to get around the plethora of words he had to make up to describe everything from their anatomy to their psychology. Add in the episodic nature of the tale, skipping over history like a flat rock over water, and things get distracting pretty easily.In the end, this was a magnificent effort of imagination, albeit somewhat weak on the emotional level.Well worth the struggle, but don't say I didn't warn you.Book selection for the Hard SciFi group (aka the Yahoo hardsf group) for the month of August, 2010.

  • Raj
    2019-02-09 21:08

    This is one heck of an ambitious book, charting the history of an entire planetary civilisation, from the discovery of metal-working up to their first spaceflight, and without a single Human in sight.Each section of the book is a snapshot into the (never named) world of 'the folk', the first following the invention of the first telescope and the beginnings of astronomy, and then the discovery that their solar system is heading right into a crowded area of space, where collisions or disturbances by solar or planetary bodies would herald the extinction of their race. The rest of the book is built on this foundation: the knowledge that, in the long term, their homeworld is doomed, so they need to be able to leave it. They suffer ice-ages, thaws, meteor collisions and more, but the vision never falters.Brunner does an impressive job in creating an alien race that is similar enough to ourselves that we can still relate to them, but alien at the same time. From their physical form, to their weather-sense and pheromones that mean that it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to lie to each other, he creates a believable race. The technology of the folk is almost entirely biological, and they discover genetic manipulation very early on, and even the radio-analogues and 'vehicles' that we see later on are living things. Another strange disjunction with our own history is the lack of any large-scale conflict. In many ways, this is an Eden planet, lacking war, eating fruit grown in the walls of your (also-grown) house, but with the always-present knowledge that Eden is doomed.An 'ambitious' book isn't necessarily an entertaining one, but this probably ranks up with Stapledon's Last and First Men as literary history and entertainment in one marvellous package.

  • Shira and Ari Evergreen
    2019-02-05 22:06

    This book is about a people on a planet - how their cultures and bodies evolve, how their ideas change, how they somehow move through time, averting disaster again and again. They're different from us, ingeniously so, but they're also very similar. So much so, that if kids read this in high school, it would probably be a good thing for the world. It may be a fictional story starring liquid-filled bug people, but there's more to it than that - it's very instructive to read and ponder it, and to think about how our own future may follow similar (or different, but at least as deliberate) paths. The lesson in this book seems to be that if we can chart our way ahead, our destination may be a better one than if we mindlessly reinforce the status quo. Humanity needs some perspective, a longer view! And John Brunner has delivered it.This book addresses sexism and the role of sex and gender in history, as well as issues around religion and belief and their (sometimes highly negative) impact on culture and the natural world. It's also packed with interesting ideas and concepts around animal rights. Get ready for some intense speciesism - the species followed in this book is perhaps even more species-supremacist than ours is, and their technologies are almost entirely based around the use and abuse of other species, selective breeding, and genetic engineering.

  • David
    2019-02-18 18:22

    For my personal taste in reading enjoyment, I might give it a bit more than 3 stars.I'm torn. This is what they call an "ambitious novel". It portrays a non-human alien race as the only characters. Their planet is in a star system traveling thru the galaxy - causing them to experience passage thru dust clouds, radiation, meteors, etc. The book is a series of episodes in their civilization's history from something like the Bronze Age to the first space flight. It shows how superstition and myth try to explain the world, and how science struggles to break the hold of superstition. Their civilization builds up, then is knocked down on occasions by a small ice age and a huge meteor strike, then civilization builds up again. Their technology is mostly based on plants and animals bred for certain functions.The book contains a lot. However, it didn't engage my particular tastes. Most of the book describes pre-industrial societies. While the people have non-human bodies, there wasn't a uniqueness of mind to stimulate me. I don't know what is a satisfactory way to explain why this wasn't "a book I couldn't put down" or "would put in my list of favorite SF books". It clearly had a lot of potential, and it's certainly ventured into territory few others have. For some reason, it didn't reach it's potential for me.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-02-19 21:59

    Brunner tends, in my experience, to be a realist in his science fiction. My favorite novels, Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, are both social prognostications which, at the time of their composition, appeared quite relevant.This, too, is a realist novel in the broader sense of maintaining the conventions of the prevailing scientific faith. As such, it is very much in the tradition of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. The presumption is that there is a single, common cosmos out there about which all sentient inhabitants could agree--indeed, would have to agree if constrained by scientific method. As such, it's a good story and a strong testament to this faith.Personally, while finding this kind of realism quite obdurately plausible, I prefer stories which challenge my presumptions more than those which confirm them--thus, only three stars.

  • Olivia
    2019-02-18 16:55

    Having some trouble getting into this book so far. It jumps right into the story without any setup so I'm trying to figure out the "rules" of this world and it's peoples. Having trouble visualizing the characters - they have mandibles, but reproduce by budding - so a cross between a tree and an insect? Hmm hopefully this will be cleared up.Never really got a clear reading on what these aliens look like. The history of their peoples was slightly interesting. But as far the story goes it was hard to get into. Every 60 or so pages you would jump forward in history and meet new characters. Then just when you're starting to get into their story you'd jump forward to the next section in history. Writing style was just so-so and pace was fairly slow.

  • Sara
    2019-01-26 19:55

    This book was very well executed -- the passage of intelligent life through the process of civilization; discoveries, inventions, the slow shift from superstition and magic to science and exploration. I did get bogged down for a while trying to visualize the main characters and the environments that they lived in. The novel jumps forward through the timeline similar to Asimov's Foundation stories, so although the characters change in each section, there remains some continuity. I'm not a huge fan of that format, though I did enjoy seeing the progress and changes in each period. A worthwhile read, though not one that particularly engaged me due to the format.

  • David Agranoff
    2019-01-29 23:08

    This is an almost surreal bizarro science fiction novel. I read it many years ago, it is not for the casual Sci-fi readers. Written from the point of view of a Alien species that developed under the ocean of their planet. If you hate Sci-fi novel that have alien liefforms that are too much like humans this is a great one to read.

  • Tom
    2019-01-26 19:01

    Wonderful sci-fi! Follows the entire development of a culture, religions, and science on an alien world as they evolve. Each chapter is a few thousand years after the previous, so it's not a character-based book. It's an idea book. Fun to read, which gets it three stars. It made me go out and look at the night sky differently. That got it four.

  • Michael Brady
    2019-02-06 23:13

    John Brunner creates a skillfully wrought, fully realized world, full of sentient creatures we resemble in all the important and embarrassing ways even though we look nothing alike. Well worth your time. Quite the prize find from the $1 rack at Half Price books.

  • Michael
    2019-02-15 20:20

    A wonderful saga of a very alien world.

  • Richard
    2019-02-04 18:24

    I read this quite a long time ago (when it was new, actually). I'll always remember it for the marvelously different alien culture. Opened my eyes in many ways.

  • Albin Louit
    2019-02-10 14:55

    A very moving novel from Brunner who describes the fate of another specie, figthing against time for its survival

  • Carmelo Medina
    2019-01-30 15:08

    Muy interesante novela, la trama unas veces se hace larga, otras te atrapa. Novela de 3,5. De las mejores creaciones de un mundo extraterrestres desde casi cero que he visto, casi al nivel de Vance. Todo el tema de la biología como base de la ciencia y sociedad en vez de la física está muy bien solventado

    2019-02-02 18:20

    review of John Brunner's The Crucible of Time by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 26, 2017 I've already thoroughly praised Brunner in many other reviews but I had the vague feeling that I might've exhausted my praise for him insofar as I thought that anything I might read new by him wdn't surprise me. I was wrong. The Crucible of Time surprised me, it was significantly different from anything I'd already read by him & satisfyingly epic. The Foreword establishes what I assume to've been the basis for the bk: "It is becoming more and more widely accepted that Ice Ages coincide with the passage of the Solar System through the spiral arms of our galaxy. It therefore occurred to me to wonder what would become of a species that evolved intelligence just before their planet's transit of a gas-cloud far denser than the one in Orion which the Earth has recently—in cosmic terms—traversed. "In my attempt to invent history I have frequently relied on the advice of Mr. Ian Ridpath, whose prompt and generous aid I gratefully acknowledge." - p ix Brunner wasn't satisfied to just take the reader thru such an imagined major shift in a planet's ecological condition. He invented a species, a protagonist being, & its culture & provides an epic in 7 parts + an epilogue to show this species faces near extinction over & over again but still manages to have enuf survivors to enable evolving to the degree of being able to attempt to cope w/ these cosmic catastrophes. Each section evolves into the legend of the next section. Each legend feeds the evolution. The initial protagonist is Jing, whose heritage forms an important lineage throughout the bk. One aspect of the epic thread is religion vs science: "Shuddering, yet determined to pursue his quest, Jing eventually discovered the secret of their dominance. It lay not in their armies, nor their treasures. It consisted in the deliberate and systematic exploitation of the dreams of those less well-to-do than themselves, a possibility which had never occurred to him, and which the language barrier prevented him from comprehending until a lordling he had disappointed in his hope of brand-new armaments set sacerdotes upon him at his lodgings." - p 6 It's never completely obvious what sort of creatures these main characters are: "children as yet unable to raise themselves upright were playing with a litter of baby canifangs, whose claws were already sharp. Now and then that led to squalling, whereupon a nursh would run to the defense of its charge, mutely seeking a grin of approval from the fathers who sat from left to right. Each had a female companion, and if the latter were in bud made great show of providing for her, but otherwise merely allowed her to bite off a few scraps." - p 12 The language is just close enuf to using (English) human terms to anthropomorphize the situation - but these aren't humans. "canifangs" could be 'canines with fangs', puppies in this instance playing w/ babies; "nursh" obviously is close to 'nurse'; "in bud" = pregnant. "And strode forward fully upright, not letting the least hint of pressure leak from his tubules. Arriving in front of the Count, he paid him the Ntahish compliment of overtopping him yet shielding his mandibles." - p 14 We read physical descriptions of the characters involving tubules, mantles, & mandibles. I think of insects but I also think of Kafka's purported avoidance of having an illustration of what Gregor Samsa turned into in "The Metamorphosis". In other words, I'm not so sure that Brunner wants the reader to think of these creatures in an absolutely defined physical way, it occurs to me that he might want their alienness to be sufficient & for the reader's attn to be directed to more philosophical aspects of the story. Jing is traveling to investigate rumors about a fantastic observatory in the far north: "However, he was finding it a disappointment. It was a mere depression in the rock. Walbushes had been trained to make a circular windbreak, and their rhizomes formed crude steps enabling one to look over the top for near-horizon observations. A pumptree whose taproot reached down to a stream of hot water grew in the center where on bitter nights one might lean against it for warmth. A few lashed-together poles indicated important lines-of-sight. Apart from that—nothing." - pp 15-16 These beings specialize in some sort of bioengineering, as alluded to above. Almost everything they have is made of plants controlled to their purposes & other beings that they'd domesticated: "Next day distraught parents came crying that a snowbelong had killed a child from the furthest-outlying village, and the Count hauled himself out of his sitting-pit and set out to hunt it down with hoverers and canifangs." - p 23 Given that this is an epic, it takes the reader thru the looooonnnnngggg term development of the technology needed for, eventually, leaving the planet: ""Ah! You found another magnifying drop. It's especially clear and fine, I must say." ""Not found," Twig announced solemnly. "Made." ""How? Out of what?" ""Sand, would you believe? Yes, the same sand you find beside the hot marsh! Keepfire's flames are getting better and hotter—oh, I know people are complaining about the smell, but that's a small price to pay!—and this time he's excelled himself! And there's more. Look at this!" "He produced what he had in his other claw. It was of similar material, equally clear, but twice the size. ""Hold them up together—no, I don't mean together, I mean—Oh, like this!" Twig laid claws on Jing in a way the latter would never normally have tolerated, but it was certainly quicker than explaining. "Now look at something through both of them, and move them apart or together until you see it clearly. Got it?" "Jing grew instantly calm. There presented to his eye was an image of Twig, albeit upside-down . . . but larger, and amazingly sharp except around the edges." - p 33 Yes! The people with claws have discovered the can-opener! After Jing is the 1st person to cut his claw on the can-opener he gets poisoning, his mantle turns paisley, & he has a vision: ""If stars are fire, then new stars happen when fresh fuel is fed to them. What fuel is there, barring worlds like ours? If we would rather not be fuel for a star, there's no one who can save us but ourselves . . . I've dreamed. It's made me weary. I must rest."" - p 44 So, the people tie a can-opener to a string & launch it with a kite & the sky cracks open! The story jumps forward in time. Out of the vagina in the sky, well, really, out of the hairs surrounding it, come giant crab-like creatures that the people tame as boats. Due to a cloacal misunderstanding, they name them "briqs" after "briq-shithouse". "The sound he had recognized was the unmistakable munch-and-slurp of Tempestamer feeding. "Week exhultation filled him. Surely she was the finest briq ever to set forth from Ushere! He had pithed her personally with all the expertise at his command, leaving untouched by his prong nerves which other Wego captains customarily severed. At first his rivals had derided him; then, however, they saw how docile she was, and how fast she grew, and in the end came begging a share of his knowledge, whereupon it was his turn to scoff. Now she had proved herself beyond doubt, for she had defied the worst weather in living memory and—he looked about him—brought her crew to a safe haven" - p 63 It was at this point that yr astute reporter, ME, realized that, YES, this IS an epic: ". . . In a giant tree at the heart of the city, hollowed out deliberately and ornamented with the finest and handsomest secondary plants, a glass container sealed with wax, through which could be glimpsed the original of Jing's scripture." - p 80 B/c, you see, Jing is long since dead, defunct, deteriorated, dried-up, all washed-up, you name it, but his WORD lives on! Hal 'til you're BLUE ya! I still don't get what any of this has to do w/ that Duchamp installation a the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It took me entirely too long to note the way the middle letters of words acted as hinges between 2 words happily conjoined in budding marriage these words into one. I must be becoming unhinged: "Braverrant had not returned albeit her master was Boldare, wily in weatherways. No more had Governature with Gallantrue and Drymantle, not—next most envied after Tempestamer—Stormock, whose commander had been Cleverule, sole among them to make two-score voyages. "Nor Wavictor, nor Knowater, nor Billowise . . . and even Tempestamer had not reported back." - p 87 Now, I don't mean to rub your face in this but I'm going to unspell it out for ya: "Braverrant" = "Brave" + "Errant" (like brave knights errant of old n'at), "Boldare" = "Bold" + "Dare" (the bold one is likely to marry Dr. Kildare), "Governature" = "Govern" + "Nature" (as in 'I'm going to govern nature if I have to bulldoze every damn tree in this fucking Amazon forest!'), "Gallantrue" = "Gallant" + "True" (Elvis offered his groupie a beer can tab for a ring before getting down to business to show how gallant & true he was), "Drymantle" = "Drym" + "Mantle" (Drym used his mantle as a surfboard in order to keep dry). Well, you get the idea. On p 123 the epic jumps vastly ahead in time again & we're going to join in that process by jumping even further ahead to p 157 so that I can quote a section that refers back to a part that I didn't quote so that you wdn't understand what's going on if I hadn't just told you: "["] At Ripar, do they know the legend of Skilluck?" "Yockerbow looked blank, but to his surprise Arranth, standing by as usual but less bashful than before, said, "If the name is Skilq, we have the same tale, probably."" - p 4,000,968,157 I prefer to pronounce it "Scalduck" but maybe that's too much of a corruption. Just say "Balduck" & click yr heels together & you'll be at p 183 but while you're being silly I'll already be at p 188: "A cable like a single immensely long nerve-strand had been laid along the sea-bed between the two places, and covered over with piles of rock carefully set in place by divers wearing things called air-feeders: ugly bulging, parasitical organisms bred from a southern species unknown, and unhappy, in these cool northern seas, which somehow kept a person alive underwater. Also they had means to lift even extremely heavy objects, using such substance or creature that contracted with vast force." - p 4,000,968,188 They have some nerve! In our world these "ugly bulging, parasitical organisms" are called millionaires but we misbred them so they're without hearts. They can only survive by sucking the blood out of non-millionaires. Gotta do something about that. Thanks to that not-really-a-joke, time is just flying by here as I make the greatest leap yet to the next era starting on p 241. True to the nature of bankers, a potentially sympathetic figure becomes a figurine of a jerk: "But if he expected to impress her by boasting, he was wrong. Nothing could have more firmed her determination than this display of the luxury Awb had attained through corrupting the minds of the younger generation. Had she not needed food to power the argument she foresaw as inescapable, she would have voiced her contempt of his tactics; as it was, she resignedly filled her maw and, confident that even yet he would never have been trained in the Jingfired's techniques of dark-use, waited until he chose to speak again." - p 290 Turning on my darklite so I can blind better (or is it blend butter?) I scry that "Awb" is short for "Awful Banker" although these days "Awful Health Care Provider" or "Awful TV Newscaster" might be a more heinous insult. Now that we've mastered darkwordplay there's no reason to jump to the next era, we can just calmly walk there w/o necessarily even looking where we're going: "At first Chybee was too startled to respond. This magnificent home had overwhelmed her even as she approached: its towering crest, its ramifying branches garlanded with countless luminants, its far-spread webs designed to protect the occupants against wingets and add their miniscule contribution to the pool of organic matter at its roots, cleverly programmed to withdraw before a visitor so that they would not be torn—all, all reflected such luxury as far surpassed her youthful experience." - p 299 & I thought that teaching my dog to fetch was something. So what if he's fetching a new girlfriend for me? "Out of the mantles of young'uns" (p 309) as we say. Remember "Voosla"? One of those post-briqs that became a giant floating city but then got forced way inland b/c of a tidal wave generated by a meteorite crash? NO, of course, you don't remember it! This is the 1st you've heard of it! &, even then, only if you pronounced the word out loud: ""As nearly as we can establish, Slah was once a city of the People of the Sea," Ugant expounded in a perfectly relaxed tone. That may sound ridiculous, given how far it now lies above seas-level, but our researches have confirmed what for countless generations was only a folktale. When the Greatest Meteorite hit, the city Voosla was borne many padlonglaqs from the nearest ocean. Naturally the over-pressure killed its inhabitants." - p 316 Naturally. Our dear friend Chybee gets inveigled (don't you just love that word?) into infiltrating a CULT that may've been a descendent of the Awful Banker. J u s t a s y o u a r e b e i n g i n v e i g l e d i n t o a c u l t r i g h t n o w b y e v e n r e a d i n g t h i s w e i r d r e v i e w.. Boy will she be sorry. "Impressed, Cometaster said, "And your means . . . ?" "With stiff dignity, Chybee answered, "Those who attain enlightenment will recognize its import in due time." "The other three exchanged glances. ""Aglabec is going to be very interested in you," said Witnessunbride. "He's the only other person I ever heard say anything like that. And the only other person so advanced he can contact other planets without needing to fast. That is, assuming you got your knowledge about Sluggard direct. Did you? Ot were you just told it by your budder or someone?"" - p 332 Yes, join my cult (a s i f y o u h a d a n y c h o i c e), & you will never have to eat again! I will take on that Earthly responsibility for you. SO, you joined the CULT OF THE BOOK REVIEWER & the next thing you know you've jumped up to another section beginning on p 357 & tripped over to p 359 where the pre-launch routine is in-progress: ""Propulsion mass and musculator pumps?" "There were no complaints from the docile creatures responsible for his maneuvers in orbit. He said so. ""Respiration?" ""Sourgas level normal." ""Pheremone absorption?"" - p 359 These claw & mantle folks do things a little differently. For one thing, they know how to put farts to work, bless 'em. Anyway, I, as your book reviewer cult guru, am now ending this review as if I didn't have a care in the world. Good night, Tiny Tim, wherever you are.

  • Grégoire
    2019-02-15 17:04

    Stories with aliens always bear something artificial, as if the author really looked for a manner to tell something, whatever it is. In a way, we could say that all the authors choose a manner to tell anything - after all, since the collapse of neoclassicism, art unlinked itself from representation. There's no reason why it should go the same with litterature.The Crucible of Time proposes a reflexion about long span, an idea coined by the French historian Fernand Braudel. That is, slow - and obviously light - evolutions that finally change a situation, definitely. Most books begin at A with the hero X and end at B with X and possibly Y who fell in love with X.Here, every single chapter offers a small adventure, quite uninteresting if they weren't part of a big story. The strength of which is precisely the journey through time. A vegetal civilization tries to get out of the way of an asteroïd belt. We follow it since its first discoveries, along centuries, until it's able to see what exactly is surrounding.From John Brunner, I preferred Stand on Zanzibar - maybe because it was more human. But I like his mise-en-scène of the long span.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-02-13 21:57

    An epic sci-fi novel about the progression of history and culture onan alien planet peopled by an insect-like sentient race.The 'novel' is really six separate stories, each dealing with amomentous point in their history. It follows the race from a primitivesociety to a spacefaring people who desperately need to escape fromthe asteroid belt that threatens their planet. In each story, abrilliant young person with groundbreaking ideas must fight to take acultural step forward.Although the book's not unreadable, I didn't find any of the stories,or their characters, to be very memorable - I didn't get emotionallycaught up in their lives or their issues. I think part of this isbecause I suspect that Brunner might have thought the fact that hischaracters were aliens would be a bit off-putting, and therefore hereally intentionally avoids physical descriptions of them and theirsurroundings. I kept getting distracted by trying to put small cluestogether to try to figure out what they looked like. Although hisalien culture was well-thought-out and featured interesting details,the book as a whole lacked plot tension.

  • Ardee
    2019-02-11 19:05

    Brunner extrapolates from current events in many of his books, and this one is especially topical. Discussing climate change in our world right now is fraught with established political stresses and not much is said that is outside the talking points. In this novel (published presciently in 1983, two decades before "An Inconvenient Truth") Brunner takes the reader through thousands of generations of an intelligent species at risk because of global changes. In this case, it's got to do with galaxy-wide shifts, but the effects on the population will sound familiar. There are deniers on one side who speak with religious fervor, and advocates of science who try to push the population into making difficult choices. As a tract on the prediction of mankind's struggle with nationalism and religion, it's amazing. As a novel, it's a little difficult to follow since the protagonists change with each generation. But definitely worth the read.

  • Nelson Minar
    2019-02-20 17:06

    Very compelling read. I like the basic theme of the inevitable march of scientific progress, the struggle of visionaries against circumstance and ignorant people. It's a good story, a race doomed to extinction by the bad luck of their planet being in the path of meteors. The repetition of events through different generations got a bit much, I think the book could have been 20% shorter without losing anything. But as a nice allegory to humans sticking their head in their sand about environmental disaster, it's good.One side theme I really liked; the idea that the people in the book have periods of mass insanity. Brought on by famine, or deliberate fasting, or occasionally the pheromones of other insane people. A more explicit cause for a society acting insanely, I like that it was such a binary off/on thing. If only humanity were so simple.

  • Thomas Hayes
    2019-02-09 19:00

    I loved this book. Yes, it is hard to read and the author never really describes the main species, "the folk", enough for you to easily associate with them. There are reviews that there are no emotional connections. I say this is a book that demands you focus, go back sometimes and read sections again, and allow yourself to step outside of your concepts of consciousness and technology. If you commit to it you will be rewarded with a rich, emotional story spanning many eras that explores the human experience, ethics, consciousness, and even pop psychology.

  • Dave
    2019-02-19 16:13

    I had really high hopes for this book, but it fell way short. It was just boring to me. The book is about an alien race and it follows their evolution from a primitive culture to a spacefaring race. It is essentially a series of short stories, each from a different time period. I didn't feel like each story was advancing a single narrative throughout the book. It just felt like it was another story about this alien race. I didn't care about the characters and it was just a tough read.

  • treva
    2019-02-08 19:23

    Nope. How much do I care about the main characters? Exactly nope.I usually give myself at least 50 pages or a quarter of the book to decide if I really want to bail. It was a struggle to push myself even that far here. I was willing to be dropped in media res with zero exposition, up until I realized I was totally unimpressed with the quality of the writing itself and completely indifferent to the characters and their situation.

  • Edwin Downward
    2019-02-13 20:16

    I found the opening section hard to read and came close to putting the book aside as unreadable, but noting this appears to be a kind of anthology of linked stories I gave it until section two to keep my attention. It delivered, and that kept me going through the ups and downs each subsequence section presented me with.

  • Tanya
    2019-02-21 16:54

    This story gets you thinking, about extraterrestrial life and evolution, and unlike any story I've read before, it covers a time span of many millions of years. I enjoyed it and would definitely read it again. For some reason, it got me thinking of the Riverworld series by PJF, so it was on to that next.

  • Micah Waldstein
    2019-02-22 17:20

    Pretty enjoyable - a really interesting look at the evolution of a non-human civilization. Ends up feeling a lot like the Foundation series in its episodic/multi generational examination of turning points. Initially, it feels forced particularly in giving the species a radically different biology, but by the time you're a quarter of the way in, it fades into the background.

  • Max
    2019-02-20 17:06

    Most SF writers write about aliens as if in fact they were merely aliens from another country right here on earth. Not much originality, eh? Well here's the exception to that rule! This book presents what in my experience is the most original and well thought out portrayal of a truly alien intelligence.

  • Patric
    2019-02-13 15:54

    I read a long time ago (30 years, I think), but I still remember scenes from it. I really liked it at the time.

  • Frank
    2019-01-26 18:17

    I love this book. A fantastic story of a completely alien species struggles through ages. There is not a single human voice in this classic.

  • Yougo
    2019-02-19 20:17

    Definitely HARD CORE Sci-Fi. I found the overarching story kind of interesting, however the book had a lot that made it a difficult read. First the entire thing is set on another planet with alien species so we have to learn their culture and nuances of language (and in all fairness, the language part the author did pretty well with - giving us familiar-ish words so that we understand what he means-ish). Second, every 60 pages or so, we jump sever "scores of scores of scores" of years and we have to learn: new characters, new nuances, new organisms and cultures. Everytime you think you've got the hang of it, it jumps. At least he does a reasonable job of giving a shout out to past characters so that we know what happened to them after the jump.All in all, I thought it was rather slow and difficult to really dial into.

  • Christopher
    2019-02-12 20:08

    A fantastic view of an alien species from the onset of astronomy to their attempts at space flight, this book is an amazing read that any scifi fan should have on their shelf.