Access to the unstable Quake was supposed to be prohibited, but some very insistent travelers were determined to make the trip. Professor Darya Lang, who studied artifacts left by the long-vanished aliens called the Builders, had a hunch that she might find the Builders themselves. Louis Nenda and the Cecropian Atvar H'sial had their own interests in Quake, and would do anything to get there. And Councilor Julius Graves was hunting murderers - if they were hiding on Quake, he would find them.
Planetary Administrators Hans Rebka and Max Perry had no choice but to go to Quake - risking their lives to protect the others - and to learn, just maybe, the secret of Summertide and the Builders.
©1990, 1991, 1992, and 1997 Charles Sheffield; (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks
Fortunately, this is only the first volume of the Heritage Universe series. There are three more. I wanted to listen to this book because it's a classic. And it is well deserved. We are left with enigma of the Others, until the end (will have to read the next book to know more about that) but something does happen -- not unexpectedly -- at the end. While the background and indeed the whole intrigue of the book is tapestried on the Artifacts left by an ancient and disappeared civilization, the whole story is really about these five or six characters that pursue the enigma by being at the right place at the right time, a fact noticed by only the experts or by chance for some. It is a very serious story, there is not much humor in it. It's elaborate, consistent (scientifically and literarily), and has a nice ending point that at once concludes the current story and opens vast possibilities for the next three volumes. However, I wouldn't recommend this book if you're not ready to listen to the next three...
In passing, I should mention another old classic that treats exactly the same theme with slightly different point of view, and is a LOT more fun, in that it's written very wittily and funnily. It's the Heechee saga by Frederik Pohl (Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Hechee Rendez-Vous, and Annals of the Hechee). Now those are books that I would treasure in audio format. If you've enjoyed that one, this Summertide will feel a bit austere and just a bit belabored sometimes. But it's still good science fiction.
Charles Sheffield believed in hard science and even harder science fiction. All of his stories are built on extrapolations from present day science to some future filled with incredible technological magic. Summertide is no different. The story itself will appeal only to those who enjoy technological fantasies, and if you are someone like that, then the mediocre performance of the reader will not trouble you. For all the rest, no matter who performed the work, you would find it wanting.
As for me, I strongly recommend it. When I have the time and the credit, I intend to get all four of these novels on CD (through Audible, of course).
Many Sci-Fi Writers simply take everyday events and give them strange names, or name a planet after a town and tell an average story substituting "guns" for Lasers, etc.
This series of books is different. The author writes HARD sci-fi. He spends a lot of time describing (in detail) the technologies, aliens, etc.
If you like Hard sci-fi, this is an excellent series.. the narration is very good also. Each book is better than the last.
A well crafted story with good characters and an original premise made "Summertide" a great read. This one made the miles go by so painlessly I hate to have to wait for the next segment. Without Audible I'm sure I would have missed this one and I'm very glad that I didn't.
I really liked this one. Style and story done a lot like Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star, one of mny favorites. Good characters, especially the aliens!! Can't wait to download the next in the series!
Satisfied Audible listener since 2002. I mostly listen to Sci-fi and anything by Stephen King.
I liked everything about this book, the story is good, the author really knows his science, the reader was good - he gave everybody their own voice, and the pace is great - I never got bored while reading it. It is one of the very best books that I have read on on Audible. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I found this to be a very engaging story. Everyone says it's "hard sci-fi" and I'll go along with that. It has the same sort of tone as Peter F. Hamilton's writings, so if you like his, you'll probably like this series as well - though Summertide is MUCH less long-winded and about half as descriptive as Hamilton's works (and, of course, half the length).
There are a lot of technical descriptions of space-faring ideas/inventions/activities, but none of it gets boring or overly complicated (and if you miss some technical detail, it won't harm your understanding of the story at all). I found that the characters were diverse and interesting. Are they as well-developed as they would be in a soap/space-opera book, no, of course not, but you can tell the difference between the main characters; and the motivations behind their behaviors are adequately differentiated.
There is a big chunk of mystery/suspense in here... like who are the Builders, what is going on at Summertide, who are the bad/good guys, what will happen to the "slaves", etc. I thought this added a nice dimension to the story.
I guess you could say the story in this book is wrapped up at the end, but you will likely have to continue reading the series as there are several "loose ends" left dangling. It's not a cliff-hanger ending, but isn't fully resolved either.
I didn't mind the narrator at all. There is no graphic violence and no sex or swearing. I have bought the rest of the series on Audible.
I've read this author's stuff before and enjoyed it, but this is just an awful mismash of sci-fi cliches. Flat characters, despite any potential they might have had, stilted writing made worse by the narrator's delivery and manufactured drama that's not at all dramatic. Plus, lots of odd quirks, like the fact that the characters are almost always referred to by both their first and last names (trust me, it gets annoying quick). The characters, although they're supposed to be experts in various endeavors, generally act in mind-bogglingly stupid ways. The same events presented from the viewpoints of two different characters are often different. Not just different viewpoints, but they differ in the details. And no one talks like the characters do. Not in real life. Not ever. Contrived, dull, and ocassionally even painful to listen to (especially the narrator's interpretation of one of the alien characters as sounding like an obsequious stereotype of a chinese immigrant). Take a pass.
If you like to read technical reports and scientific articles, you may like this book. However, if you like to read about characters and human emotions set within a scientific fictional future, you will not like this book. The charaters are portrayed as dichotomous (either/or) variables that respond to an environment that constantly needs to be analyzed. Sheffield tries to make his characterizations central, but fails and the reader is left instead feeling quite detached. To further the insult of this book, the narrator (G. Howard) seems to feel the same way. He reads as if he is cramming for a freshman's final exam--in Latin no less. Pass on this one.
I read just this book of the series, and want to join other that gave 5* rating. Like it, both the plot and the narrator.
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