Bowl of Heaven

Bowl of Heaven

Book - 2013
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In Bowl of Heaven , the first collaboration by science fiction masters Larry Niven ( Ringworld ) and Gregory Benford ( Timescape ), the limits of wonder are redrawn once again as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowlshaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths...and it's on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.

A landing party is sent to investigate the Bowl, but when the explorers are separated--one group captured by the gigantic structure's alien inhabitants, the other pursued across its strange and dangerous landscape--the mystery of the Bowl's origins and purpose propel the human voyagers toward discoveries that will transform their understanding of their place in the universe.

Publisher: New York : Tor, 2013, c2012.
ISBN: 9780765366467
Characteristics: 435 pages ;,18 cm.
Additional Contributors: Niven, Larry

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h
hwhale
Feb 14, 2018

Just a warning that although this is a long novel, it is only part one of two. It does not have a satisfactory ending in and of itself.

This was very disappointing as by the time I got to the end, I was tired of all the repetition and ruminations on the physics, and just wanted to know what happened to the characters.
I will not be reading the second novel because I had to force myself to read the last few chapters of the first, only to find it did not end!

It is interesting that the version I read stated at the end that it would be continued in the soon-to-be-released "Shipstar", and then a page or two later here was a teaser of the first chapter of that novel. Obviously "Shipstar" was released very quickly after "Bowl of Heaven" was released. I believe the authors took an overly long novel and split it into two parts in order to double the income.

Regarding the content, there are many comments about the needless repetition and dragging out of the content, also the very detailed physics involved, with little actual story. I agree with most of the negative reviews.

If you want a good read of a similar nature, try "Ringworld" by Larry Niven. Written decades ago when he was at his peak. There are several volumes after Ringworld, but it is a complete novel in itself. Another excellent pair by Niven are "The Integral Trees" and its followup "The Smoke Ring". Both of these series are excellent SF reading.

n
NealWSyrette
Sep 16, 2016

I have enjoyed Niven's previous literary works (and concepts) and can appreciate his vision of concept and ideals being written throughout this one story. I am unfortunately unfamiliar with any of Benford's style of writing to make any sort of comment outside of comparisons in writing style with what is Niven's. (anything that isn't what I am already familiar with).

It doesn't always make a fair assessment of a writer's talent.

The story I found interesting if not familiar in concept to the Ringworld series, yet Bendford tends to add an element of morality and lessons dictated through the psychology of his characters (the aliens) in contrast to what we already know of "man".

"Maintaining the status quo" and how mankind (beings limited by time) then interacts with such an ideal.

Not a must read but interesting none the less if only for the imagery it portrays through the use of just the right words. They lead if not forcefully, then directly down a certain imagining of what they are trying to create as writers; the image in your mind of the world, creatures and people. An enjoyable read if only on the basis of literary talent between these two writers. Sometimes its not the story but how well it is told...

I am, hmmm, 'tentatively' waiting for the second in the series, if only for the curiosity created by the first.

- Neal

d
danomcd
Sep 11, 2015

fun old school sci-fi although it was very hard to actually envision the size of the bowl that they found in space.

n
nancytucson
Aug 27, 2015

awesome old school science fiction. great plot and characters

a
adam1999
Oct 23, 2014

Abrupt ending and somewhat disjointed writing make for an underwhelming book from two "masters of SF". I haven't read much of Benford's work but I love Niven's earlier works, which makes this particularly disappointing...

emilitanteadvey Sep 23, 2014

I am upset with how this book ended so suddenly with no real segway into the sequel, but overall, fairly well written, intriguing, and thought provoking.

m
mumkin
Feb 07, 2013

Formulaic, uninspired, and worst of all, part one of a series. I hold a grudge against every SF author who contributed a glowing blurb for the cover. This is a stinker.

c
cocodog
Jan 05, 2013

I was truly disappointed in this book. Benford is better than this! The book is really about a half-book, meant simply to sell others in as series. In order to stretch this short story out into a book, Benford uses long, boring, and unintelligible soliliqys into the thoughts of the principal elien character. Not really "bad" reading, but I wouldn't pay for it!

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