Reviews

Aikatunneli, by Greg Bear

internpepper's review against another edition

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3.0

This book starts off very strong with a great premise, but unfortunately it gets way too caught up in exposition dumps and fairly generic characters. I do like the plot itself and the implications of the science, which I know is the point of classic science fiction. However, the middle and ending portion just dragged too much to be truly great.

joeyh's review against another edition

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4.0

This is the only SF book I know of where pi-meters are used. I loved that, and have always wanted a pi-meter of my own.

mike_no1's review against another edition

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3.0

Sadly the poor quality of my copy of the audiobook brings the score down. Very "Crichtonian" plot and thats not bad, just very 90's.

tomwklose's review against another edition

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3.0

The beginning had a lot of promise even into the middle of the book, but the end began to have me lose interest because of losing track along the way. I agree it reminded me of Clark's book too.

craniac's review against another edition

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4.0

Rather compelling remake of Clarke's Rendesvouz with Rama. It really needed to be three books, perhaps, as too much happened in the last third of the book, and a bit too quickly to really engage me. Theoretical time/space science becomes the magic pixie dust that makes everything possible in the last portion of this book, but I still enjoyed it, even what I had a hard time visualizing.

Why aren't hard science fiction writers allowed to use illustrations? It seems archaic and lame to have to describe some of the complex concepts and spaces in this book without diagrams of any sort. What, are we playing dungeons and dragons? I say that as a technical writing teacher.

greenspe's review against another edition

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3.0

Doris Lessing really likes Greg Bear. I really like Doris Lessing. So far, this is okay.

cathepsut's review against another edition

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2.0

The 21st century seen from 1985. So it is slightly different world from the one we know. The Soviet Union still exists and so does the cold war. Only it is at the brink of becoming not so cold.

A huge asteroid appears and moves into Earth’s orbit. The US sends scientists to explore and it turns out that the “stone” is hollow and consists of 7 chambers. Man made. Filled with forests, lakes, and an abandoned city in one of the chambers. Built by humans? From a distant future? An alternative future? A different dimension? And where did they go? The city contains libraries that speak of a catastrophic war happening on Earth. It might be the same war looming over Earth now. Will knowledge of it help preventing it?

Interesting ideas, good character development, a suspenseful start that makes you itch to find out what happens next. But about half way through the book I got stuck and lost interest. I think, maybe because I did not like the way the story develops. I still finished the book, but skimmed through the rest of it. Again, seemed to be an interesting ending, but I think it would have been better, if it had been more open. As it was, the finish did not leave much to the imagination.

danilanglie's review against another edition

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3.0

I would definitely give this 3.5 stars if I could. I really liked the ideas that this book had to offer, much more so than I liked the actual story it was telling, if that makes sense. The best thing about the book is the way that each new revelation broadens the scope. First, we're talking about a mysterious stone in space. Then we're talking about nuclear war between Russia and the U.S. But just when you think the stakes can't get any higher, we're talking about the future of mankind, and infinity and space travel and all sorts of funky stuff. And then you get an ending that throws everything for yet another loop.

As for the characters, I liked them alright. But this is where the story maybe fell a little flat for me. I would have liked more time with some of the characters, and could have done with less of others. This novel has a very large ensemble cast, and honestly I'm not sure it needed it. The consequence is that some of the characters stand out to me, and others were confusingly similar and probably could have been squished together. This is particularly true for the Russian political officers, who I kept getting mixed up, and some of the players in the Thistledown. Other than Olmy and the advocate, I kept getting everybody mixed up.

Another flaw is perhaps a slight over-use of scientific explanations. I really liked the majority of them, particularly the stuff that imagined how the distant future of human technology would operate. Other times, I felt my attention wandering as I was treated to long explanations as to how the Way would work, and opening gates, etc. etc. Maybe others find this stuff more interesting, but I didn't.

In all, I'm glad I read this book, and in particular I enjoyed the way it ended. Definitely not what I was expecting. I'll be glad to see how things shake out in the next book in the series.

jrt5166's review against another edition

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2.0

When I was writing my senior thesis in college, I had an advisor who nearly every meeting we had would look at me seriously over his glasses and say "scope creep." Reading this novel made me understand how he felt.

The author had several big story ideas and instead of writing a book about each, wrote this book about all of them. It made for a rather lengthy read. That said, the ideas themselves were interesting. He speculated about whether seeing the future (a world wide nuclear war) would prevent or cause it. He also had many thoughts about the nature of the soul, alien life, alternate universes, etc.

It was a bit dense for me. My lack of theoretical physics knowledge made it hard for me to find the line between scientifically founded speculation and pure imagination. However, I can't reasonable be hard on Bear when I was the one sleeping though AP Physics.

I do believe I can reasonably object to all of the bad sex scenes. They seem to be a staple in sci-fi of a certain era, and reading such scenes always causes me to roll my eyes.

sjstuart's review against another edition

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4.0

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Detailed, realistic speculation about cold-war era exploration of an asteroid / artifact that arrives in our solar system, and the political and military drama that unfolds. Interesting technological speculations. A few mysteries and several interesting characters worth sticking around for. But in the last half of the book I found I had to force myself to pay attention. By then, the action involved a far-future human society with technology too advanced to be interesting, and the interesting human characters had all become pawns that didn’t shape their own destinies any more. The science had turned into mystical pseudoscience mumblings about building arbitrary structures out of space-time, perfect control over gravity and inertial forces, and the ability to jump between alternate universes. Indistinguishable from magic, and therefore just as uninteresting.

I also spent much of the time wondering if it was my fault or the author’s that I didn’t have a good mental image of the scenes being described. For the most part, I appreciated the lack of infodump-style exposition — you’re left to piece together the novel surroundings, experiencing the same confusion and wonder as the characters. But it was frustrating when this lack of information extended to the way things actually looked. I got the feeling that Bear did have a very rich, vivid mental image of the scenery, the technological gadgets, and the layout of the asteroid, the Way and their cities, but just didn’t manage to put enough of it on paper that I could construct an image with much detail at all. Add to this a huge collection of characters — human, alien, post-human “homorph" or “neomorph”; on Earth, on the asteroid, or in the space-time tunnel; American, Chinese or Russian; Naderite or Geshel — and I spent much of the time feeling more lost than I should have been.

The US-Soviet political dynamic certainly dates the novel, and might be a problem for anyone who doesn’t remember the 1980s. But for those who spent any of their formative years under the cloud of cold war politics, it doesn’t take much of a mental shift to put yourself back in that mindset.

I picked this up as a used paperback, based on Goodreads' recommendation and the strength of several of Bear’s other books ([b:Blood Music|340819|Blood Music|Greg Bear|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388694820s/340819.jpg|2563510] and [b:Slant|172742|Slant (Queen of Angels, #4)|Greg Bear|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316131076s/172742.jpg|435602] come to mind). But as I went to shelve it after finishing it, I realized that I already had a copy, and must have read it 15 or 20 years ago. It doesn’t surprise me too much that I don’t remember it a few decades later, and I don’t suppose it has made any more of a permanent impression this time around. It was entertaining, mostly, but never more than diverting. Perhaps when I’m tempted to reread it in another 20 years, this review will help remind me that it’s probably not much more than a reasonably enjoyable way to pass the time.