Firstborn by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Concluding (sadly) the Time Odyssey trilogy, this book firmly solidifies the wildly disconnected first and second novels into one cohesive storyline.
There are bigger stakes, believe it or not. Badder weapons, new strangeness, and a direct call-back between Clarke's Firstborn race that became noncorporeal, were the architects of intelligent life, and who were directly referenced in all the psychedelic images from 2001 A Space Odyssey. If that doesn't get your blood pumping with all those obelisks, I don't know what will.
Add that to some of Baxter's most awesome aliens in the silver spheres, a massive world-building experience with the Xeelee with universal implications and an almost completely one-sided fight, and this novel becomes a truly fascinating collage and melding of two absolutely enormous adventures full of great (and apparently accurate) science, lovely characters (especially the AIs), and a great cross-section of everyone. Spacers, Martians, Earthers, Alt-Earthers, Non-human intelligences, including the Watcher and our Missing Linkers, and of course the Firstborn.
Let's destroy some planets, damn the fates of some futures, and ask a few new questions.
It's good. Not great, but very good. It's better in the idea realm where we can explore the worlds of Clarke and Baxter in a truly cool mesh between their imaginations. I really believe it was an equal collaboration. This is, despite the fact that Clarke died soon after.
And that's where my biggest concern lies.
The end. Is not the end. It's not even close to an end. Everyone SAYS it's the end, that it wraps up the trilogy, and it does, at least by combining the previous two in a really big and cool way, answering tons of questions while asking even more...
But the VERY END is ... unsatisfying. Who the HELL is the Lastborn, and why are they losing the fight????? WTF!?!
Okay. Great cliffhanger. Whatever. But where is the NEXT trilogy?
Oh, wait. Clarke died. That was back in '07.
*screams and pulls out his hair*
I'm emotional because I see great things in this series. I see how the Three-Body Problem built and stood on the shoulders of JUST THIS KIND OF SF. OF course, this was a much easier read and didn't jam-pack nearly as much astounding ideas in its pages as Cixin Liu's work, but it comes awfully close.
And years before Cixin Liu wrote his something similar. :)
Just postulating here. And wondering. And wistful. I wish I had a lot more of these books.
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