Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. Tor, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9240-4
The disappointing third space opera in the Bowl of Heaven series from hard sci-fi doyens Benford and Niven (after 2014’s Shipstar) returns to a galaxy in which extraterrestrial life-forms have created a “vast bowl built to capture and refocus a star’s own radiation” used for space-faring adventures. Instead of expanding on this imaginative premise, Benford and Niven focus on the thinly-drawn human crew of the spaceship SunSeeker, among them husband-and-wife biologist team Cliff Kammash and Beth Marble. SunSeeker’s exploration of the galaxy leads the crew to encounter a series of bizarre extraterrestrial beings, including carnivorous kangaroo-like creatures and a benevolent, many-armed alien given the distractingly cutesy nickname Twisty. Throughout, the authors introduce exciting but underdeveloped concepts—sentient plasma, miniature black holes—that casual readers will struggle to grasp. Benford and Niven also lean too heavily on genre convention: the expendable crew members used to establish the stakes will put readers in mind of the redshirts on Star Trek, and Twisty’s unconventional dialogue occasionally veers into Yoda territory (“You tired must be from journeys”). This does not live up to expectations. (Jun.)
Reviewed on : 04/06/2020
Release date: 06/16/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
Mass Market Paperbound - 432 pages - 978-0-7653-9241-1
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