Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review - Eon, by Greg Bear

Nothing ages faster than the future.

Eon, by Greg Bear, was published in 1985. It was set in 2005. And even though the fall of the Berlin Wall was less than five years away when this was published, there was no doubt in the author's mind that the Cold War would continue into the new millennium. That was the first thing that made me pensive.

The other thing that struck me was how easy it was to fall back into the Cold War mentality (like riding a bike?). Which is why I don't blame Mr. Bear for the first point -- I remember how sudden, how stunning, it was to watch the Soviet bloc unravel.

Anybody here too young to remember that? Thoughts on reading Cold War-era science fiction?

Getting back to the book: despite the dated Cold War assumptions, the book holds up. The names and governments may have changed, but if a mysterious, self-propelled asteroid appeared in near Earth orbit I expect things would still play out along similar lines today. As a hard science fiction fan I was especially interested in the invasion of an O'Neill habitat from its zero-gee axis. Once the story moved into more advanced levels of sci-fi, the "hardness" becomes less relevant but where it was still obvious, the laws of physics held firm.

From a more structural point of view, this is a book with many subplots. Most of them overshadow, in fact, the one plot that runs through the entire novel -- Patricia wants to go home. The throughline persists just visibly enough that when it asserts itself toward the end, you see that it was the goal all along. An interesting lesson in structure.

One last point: at first blush, this novel made me think of Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. All they have in common is the O'Neill habitat, though. If you're interested in hard science fiction, you should read both.

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy my fair share of hard sci-fi. I'll have to check this out. :)