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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Strength Of Stones

Copyright 1981 by Greg Bear

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this in 1983 and most recently on the 21st August 2002

The renowned architect, David Kahn, was commissioned to build cities on the world God-Does-Battle. The resultant architecture was astounding: mobile, intelligent cities that moved around the planet as the inhabitants desired or as their demand for resources required.

But in the end the cities failed. Their AIs, in a fit of illogic, excluded the populations, leaving the cities emptied of people, and empty of purpose.

Twelve hundred years later, many cities have died, and the rest are near death. Te human population is reduced to savagery living on the desolate land, telling garbled tales about their fall from Eden and fighting off mutated city-parts that scour the land for resources.

Still, perhaps there's a chance to for the people to finally regain their rightful place as inhabitants and masters of the cities.

I'm in a quandary. I quite like this book, excellent ideas, great technology, powerful characters. On the other hand, I dislike that it feels like two or three short stories tied together (and I generally find short stories unsatisfying). furthermore I dislike the ending (frankly, because I didn't quite understand it* and I'm not inclined to reread it at present). Greg Bear succumbed to his growing desire to write about "big things**" (look at the later "Eon" series, for example).

Bear is a great writer, he draws realistic characters, tells great stories, and does the big science stuff superbly, but - in this book - it doesn't work. I wanted a more concrete, more down to earth, more satisfying ending, and in particular, I wanted to understand the ending.

*explanations gratefully accepted by email

**gigantic technological constructions, the breadth of the universe, the expanse of time rolling on into the future, etc

Loaded on the 31st October 2002.
Cover of Strength Of Stones