I found this book to be a meaningless and puerile soap opera, bereft of the original and rich concepts of Clarke's earlier work. The narration is very good overall, but unable to redeem a plotless, pandering cash cow.
This book consists of a few morsels of science fiction floating in a gelid medium of jingoistic pap. The story follows recruits in the future marine corps, and the narrator grunts out the annoyingly saccharine "esprit" like he's an actual drill instructor. A little of this I could take, but the hours of political diatribes and melodramatic inner soliloquies are downright nauseating. The author actually says "Hoo-Rah" over and over (I think its a marine thing).
I admire the above average understanding of physics, but that's the only positive thing I have to say about this novel. The story is a blatant rip off of Saberhagen's berserkers and Heinlein's starship troopers, without the charm of either.
The Heechee alien race and artifacts are among the most interesting in science fiction. Inscrutable and fascinating, enticing with riches and threatening with danger, the Gateway asteroid embodies with eloquence mankind's questing nature.
I only wish the novel had focused more exclusively on the Heechee and not on one of the most unlikeable characters in modern fiction. The "Hero" Robinette Broadhead, is given an opportunity any red blooded human would die for: to plumb the galaxy's mysteries in an alien starship.
All he can do with this mighty gift, unfortunately, is drink till he pukes, beat his girlfriend, and sobbingly profess to his shrink that he equates love with having things stuck up his butt. Oh, Dear!
The antagonist is a god-like evil which is devouring the universe simultaneously(?) across trillions of years of history.
Bear attempts to address the raised issues of quantum reality and causality merely by babbling cool-sounding made up words like "enigma-chron" and "lines of fate". This whole book is an "enigma-chron".
The creeping chaos consuming reality fortunately has gravity, soil, cities and a flow of events so that the characters can sojourn there. Maybe it's not so chaotic?
Fortunately for the botched storyline, housecats (yes, frikkin' housecats!) are immune to the chaos's effects, and devour the ultimate malign intelligence which turns out to be a small alien space-rat.
I SWEAR I'M NOT KIDDING!!
Don't waste your money on this one.
The plot was utterly pointless and meandering. None of the magic or fantastic happenings were ever explained. I also got really tired of the bad movie german accent of the main character.
Incredibly vivid, poetic, and brilliantly descriptive, Lynch's masterpiece paints a deeply rich and detailed world behind the reader's eyes. Humourous, exciting and visceral, this is one of those books that leaves you begging for more!
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