(reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer APR 04, 2004)
Cley is about as Original as it gets...at least genetically. She's closer to the original genetics of old humans than most of her people, despite her unusual abilities, which include making her finger tips into useful tools. She's been raised in calm and quiet by her meta-family, and lives a fairly simple life. The higher forms of intelligence, the Supras, treat her as a curiosity, but allow her to work in the Library of Life. She doesn't realize her originality will make her a target, both from the horrible Malign, who seek to destroy her, and by the Supras, who seek to use her genetic identity.
When the Malign, who are vicious transdimensional life form, attack, they manage to destroy all Originals but Cley. Accompanied by a super intelligent raccoon called Seeker-After-Paths, she is forced to run away, hoping to find answers to why the Malign want to destroy her. This journey takes her to some fairly interesting places, as we explore strange lands and even stranger people. One of my favorites that qualifies as both is the Leviathan, a huge organism that has other organisms living inside of it, and a captain who can take any form he wishes. Almost all of the animals are at least semi-intelligent, such as the rats, and all have their own distinct personalities. You can almost feel the author's joy in creating, seeing how far he can go, what he can make, and it makes for really interesting reading.
There is also a lot of hard science, mostly to do with transdimensional traveling and genetic mutation. When I say hard, I mean it ...sometimes I had to stop and study things out. I actually felt my brain stretch a little, which really isn't all that bad a thing.
However, despite the interest in these areas, I have to admit that my joy in what Benford created was dimmed a bit by the implications of the ending. I really didn't agree with what he said and how Cley did (or rather didn't) act, but I think that is more personal preference than anything else. He says some interesting things about humanity's place in the scheme of the universe.
Originally Cley's adventures were the focus of 1990's novella, "Beyond the Fall of Night." This book is for people who enjoy the journey more than the outcome, who like possibilities and interesting creatures mixed with their science. Benford's book is an intriguing offering that gives the reader a lot to consider.
- Amazon readers rating: from 19 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Beyond Infinity at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Jupiter Project (1975)
- If the Stars Are Gods (With Gordon Eklund) (1977)
- Shiva Descending (with William Rotsler) (1980)
- Timescape (1980)
- Against Infinity (1983)
- Artifact (1985)
- Heart of the Comet (with David Brin) (1986)
- A Darker Geometry (with Mark O. Martin) (1986)
- In Alien Flesh (1986)
- Matters End (1995)
- Foundation's Fear (1997)
- Find the Changeling (with Gordon Eklund) (1980)
- Cosm (1998)
- The Martian Race (1999)
- Eater (2000)
- Beyond Infinity (March 2004)
- The Sunborn (March 2005) **
** Sequel to THE MARTIAN RACE
Galactic Center Series:
- Deeper Than the Darkness (1970) (retitled The Stars in Shroud in 1978)
- In the Ocean of Night (1977)
- Across the Sea of Suns (1984)
- Great Sky River (1987)
- Tides of Light (1989)
- Furious Gulf (1994)
- Sailing Bright Eternity (1995)
Written as Sterling Blake:
- Chiller (1993)
- Deep Time (1999)
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- Wikipedia on Gregory Benford
- SF Site interview with Gregory Benford
- Gregory Benford Biblography - detailed
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About the Author:
Gregory Benford was born in 1941 in Mobile, Alabama. In 1963, he received a B.S. from the University of Oklahoma, and then attended the University of California, San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in 1967. He spent the next four years at Lawrence (Calif.) Radiation Laboratory as both a postdoctoral fellow and research physicist.
He is a physicist and astronomer at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. and in 1995 received the Lord Prize for contributions to sciences. His research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics.
A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature. He is one of the leading exponents of hard SFA in which, no matter how fantastic it might seem, never violates established scientific laws.
His television credits, in addition to the series A Galactic Odyssey , include Japan 2000 . He has served as scientific consultant to the NHK Network and for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He lives in Laguna Beach, California.