cover image Legacy


Greg Bear. Tor Books, $22.95 (349pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85516-1

Hard science and human interest intersect ingeniously in this prequel to Bear's Eon (1987) and Eternity (1988). Twenty-five years after the opening of The Way, a kind of tunnel through space that permits access to different planets and time continua, Olmy Ap Sennon is sent through it to spy on 4000 ``divaricates'' who fled the starship Thistledown for a utopian existence on the sylvan world of Lamarckia. What he finds, instead, is a full-blown divaricate civil war, whose opposing sides mirror his own ambivalent feelings about life aboard the strictly regimented starship. Olmy and the divaricates work through their respective identity crises against the exuberantly imagined backdrop of Lamarckia, a planet whose integrated ecosystem adapts readily to change. While occasionally numbing in their detail, Bear's meticulous descriptions of flora and fauna serve an important function: they authenticate Lamarckia as a world that assimilates and learns from other organisms, making it the perfect crucible for examining the personal and political dramas staged within it. This is a stunning SF novel that extrapolates a scientifically complex future from the basic stuff of human nature. (July)