Nearly 100,000 years after first contact with the machines that dominate the universe, only a few hundred humans survive. Trapped on Snowglade, a barren world near the center of the galaxy, Killeen and his child, Toby, of the Bishop Trib,e are primitive scavengers, homeless and hunted by the ruling “mechs”. Then suddenly, a strange cosmic entity – neither organic nor cybernetic or living matter – reaches out from a black hole to speak with Killeen. But can the fallen descendent of starfarers understand this being in time - and seize his only chance to save his family and mankind from final annihilation?
©1987 Abbenford Associates (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I prefer intelligent, complex stories with deeply developed characters. I'm not a fan of most popular novels; my taste is more eccentric.
This is the third novel in Gregory Benford's Galactic Center series. In book two, we left Nigel as he was rushing towards Galactic Center. We left Warren in an underwater haven built by the Skimmers, as the Swarmers continued with their dirty work of destroying life on earth. We were given a glimpse of the mechs and an understanding of their agenda. Now in Great Sky River, we see what has become of mankind in a far distant future. This is the world that was described in Benford's novella, A Hunger for the Infinite, the reason I started listening to this series in the first place.
Humans live in tribal families and lead nomadic lives on the planet Snowglade. We understand that the humans once lived in beautiful citadels and were somewhat tolerated by the mech population, until something changed and citadels were destroyed and the humans viciously hunted. The planet's climate has been changed by the mechs, from the lush and green world implied by the name Snowglade, to a dry and harsh environment suited to mechs and dangerous to humans. The Bishop family is constantly on the run, looting mech factories for food and parts. All humans have robotic enhancements and implants to help them survive. "Aspects" are the memories and personalities of fallen comrades, which can be stored in chip form and inserted into the back of the neck. Family Bishop values their Aspects and relies on the knowledge and experiences of their ancestors to stay alive.
Killeen Bishop is the new hero and faces off against the Mantis, the extremely creepy mech that harvests humans and creates artistic monstrosities for enjoyment. We see a small glimpse of Nigel, knowing that he must have passed this way on his journey to Galactic Center. Killeen finds the initials N.W. on a beautiful structure built by humans.
This story is thrilling and intense, and completely different from the two previous books. We learn what has become of humanity after mechs take over the universe. This is what I was waiting for when I started the series and I'm so glad I hung in there!
It's among the best
the discovery of the Taj Mahal
They captured the characters' personalities and moods well
The speech about human destiny and dignity near the end
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