le 26 février 2013
In the continuing interregnum between Amazon orders, I decided to delve back in time to a book that left a lasting impression. I first read this book way back in 1987 when I was half my current age and, having cut my teeth on the works of the early masters of the genre, the contemporary freshness and variation on the Rama theme really fired my imagination.
At first, reading it again might not have been that great an idea. The cold-war politics with squeaky-clean liberally-minded Yanks and Russian state machinery automata seem now to be naïve caricatures and it is always a mistake to mention future dates; 2005 may have seemed a long time ahead back in 1987 but now… it’s all a bit Tomorrow’s World. Some of the technological references also give the book a very dated feel (e.g. booking processor time on the mainframe!), but Bear wasn’t too short of the mark predicting the near ubiquitous hand-held tablet (mind you, I think Star Trek got there first).
It’s an odd book, this one; the first half is slow and almost painfully dated but then as soon as Ser Olmy enters the narrative things really get going. The Frant, Jart & Talsit races and the Naderite / Geshel politics in the still futuristic Axis City as it rides the singularity down The Way are as original today as they were back then. The latter half of the book rattles along at a cracking pace and, getting to the end I’m glad that I read it again. So much so that I really fancy staying back in my long-lost youth and re-reading Eternity. That, however, is not going to happen until the next inter-Amazon order vacuum as the latest one has just arrived.