After listening to the novella by Gregory Benford, "Hunger for the Infinite," I was intrigued and ready for more of the same universe. This novel is v..Show More »ery different. It is very slow moving and for much of the first half focuses strictly on main character Nigel and his "triad" relationship with Alexandria and Shirley. I was hoping for a little more science fiction, but patiently listened through Nigel's ups and downs with his lady loves. The lingering back story seems to be Nigel's struggle to over come politics within NASA and finally discover something real and true about the universe.
I was waiting for the "science fiction" part to dominate the "dramatic" part, and it doesn't really happen until the end of the first half. The creepy robots of Benford's novella have not shown up yet in Nigel's world, but he begins to get a sense of their presence. The entire novel is a build up to the idea that robotic life dominates the universe and that organic life is rare. My favorite character in the novel is actually the "snark", an automated craft that has been sent by these as of yet unseen robotic forces, to sniff out organic life. The snark does not know why it exists but only behaves as it has been programmed to behave. In its discussions with Nigel, there are some of the most interesting passages of the book. The snark drifts eternally through the "ocean of night" and finds its only fulfillment through learning about organic life forms.
I was disappointed that this novel was so different from "Hunger for the Infinite," but I enjoyed it anyway. Its slow and thoughtful, with no real gripping action or suspense, but contains some captivating musings about mankind and our relationship to the universe. I will continue with the series to see where it leads.
I wasn't wild about the first novel in this series but I had a feeling it was setting the stage for very exciting things. I'm so glad I hung in there!..Show More » Nigel is in his element aboard Lancer, a ship modeled after the Mare Marginis wreck. Peopled with a crew of experts in every field, the ship is exploring the universe. I finally begin to admire Nigel and understand why he is the hero of this story. Nigel is a frontiersman. He is looking for the truth and nothing will stand in his way of discovering it. Lancer is tracing a radio transmission far into space, and we see Nigel grow older as it takes years to reach their destination. He tenaciously holds onto his desire to make contact with other life forms and to prove his theory that machine life is up to no good out there in the universe.
Meanwhile back on earth, strange creatures have been deposited (by guess who?) into the world's oceans. The story alternates between Nigel on Lancer, and a new hero on earth, Warren. In a chilly turn of events, we are introduced to the "swarmers", alien sea creatures that bombard ships and devour the humans inside, making sea travel impossible. Warren is a shipwreck survivor, clinging to a make shift raft and beating starvation and dehydration by killing and eating the lone swarmers that attack him.
On Lancer, earth's transmissions take years to reach the crew, so they are not yet aware of the swarmers. Instead they are focused on a planet called Isis, where organic life forms have evolved to communicate through radio waves in order to outsmart the machine life that has suppressed them.
There is so much action in this novel. Everything starts to fit together and I understand why Benford spent so much time on the themes presented in "In the Ocean of Night." Nigel is rushing toward the Galactic Center and the story is picking up speed! I can't wait to listen to the next book!
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 War..Show More »ren 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!
I never thought I could be so creeped out by robots. The antagonists of this futuristic sci-fi novella are called "Mechs." They see humans as vermin,..Show More » and the author luridly describes some of the tortures they inflict upon the human race. Even more disturbing than the grotesque and perverse artworks created by the Mantis, a mech that is trying to understand humanity (literally from the inside out), is the voice that the narrator gives to the character. It is calm and polite, almost soothing, as it talks of "harvesting" humans. Eeek!
I thought this novella was great. The language is definitely poetic and sometimes slightly vague, alluding to things that are left unsaid. The mood is cold and dark, but also witty and elegant. There were moments of extreme beauty and elation, but also chilly fear.
This novella is not warm, and its not really friendly. It explores some frightening and complex themes. If you need obvious story telling with copious amounts of dialogue, you will probably not enjoy this story. I loved it. The narrator is excellent. I will be purchasing all available books from this author.