Greg Bear - Thoughts?

Fried Egg

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I couldn't find a thread for this author and, as I'm reading one of his books right now, I thought I'd start one.

I'm reading "Eon", No. 50 in the SF Masterworks series. I'm only 150 pages in (it's quite a long novel at around 500 pages) so I don't have too much to say about it at the moment.

The only other thing I've read from this author is the short story "Blood Music" which was an outstanding story. Apparently it was later developed into a full length novel (which is also part of the SF Masterworks series) but I've heard mixed views of that, some saying it was needlessly dragged out.

Any fans of his here? Any other recommendations?
 

Rodders

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Two of my favourite books are written by Greg Bear. The Forge of God and its sequel, the Anvil of Stars. I've read them both multiple times and recommend them. (I read somewhere that there was the possibility of a third novel in this series, but so far nothing's happened.) They both had very, very good endings which is unsusual for one book, let alone two.

I did read Eon some time ago, but it was OK and i never got around to reading the two sequels. A friend of mine at the time absolutely raved about them. Maybe it's time to reread it? Darwin's radio was a pretty interesting book about the next stage in human evolution. Again, i didn't read the sequel.

Overall i've found him to be a pretty solid read so far.
 

clovis-man

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I read Eon a few years ago. Not sure what it was, but I just didn't warm to the story. Haven't read any Greg Bear since. Maybe there are some other novels of his I should approach, but I haven't been motivated.
 

Vertigo

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I have read the full novel Blood Music and I loved it - didn't really feel it had been dragged out but then I never read (or even knew about) the short story.

Other than that I have a nagging feeling that I have read others of his from the library but before I got more disciplined at recording my reading so not too sure.

On the back of Blood Music he is definitely an author that I have pegged for more reading.
 

AE35Unit

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Blood Music is an awesome novel (never read the short),, ideal film fodder I reckon! Some say its an early form of cyber punk, I dont know, or care, about that, its just a Good Read!
Also I enjoyed his fantasy duology, The Infinity Concerto/The Serpent Mage.
Not tried Eon yet-big books scare me!
I tried to read Slant but the language/ writing style is just awful!
Hegira was the first book of his I read, its an early ok novel.
Theres also an excellent book about a WWII pilot transported to the future but the title escapes me!
Oh gaming fans might be interested to know that Bear is writing/ has written the first Halo books!
 

Hypnos164

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He is one of the authors I used to read ... at one point (after reading Blood Music) I was quite a big fan, regularly buying his new books.

At some point, after a run of disapointing work - I assume, I stopped buying him. I think City of Angels (?) was the last one of his I read.
 

Fried Egg

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I finished "Eon" and I must admint that I was a little dissappointed. Here's my review:

Imagine an alternate history in which the cold war hadn't ended in 1989 and had instead continued to intensify. And to add fuel to the fire a mysterious object arrived in our solar system from who knows where that America gets to first and controls access to. If the Soviets believed the Americans were learning secrets that would give them an edge, tensions might escalate out of hand. But it isn't giving the Americans a technological edge, only offers confounding mysteries and a devestating vision of their future that they seem powerless to avoid.

This book, paradoxically, seemed both too long and too short. The overall story arc should either have been compressed down to a novel half the length or else fleshed out over two or three volumes. The sheer number of characters, minor story arcs, and mind boggling concepts explored was too much for a single book. Many of which could have been stripped out of the overall story without losing anything particularly important. On the other hand, more time could have been allowed to develop the many characters and their own story lines, the esoteric concepts more carefully explored if it was spread out over several books. Thus, it might be said, it falls between two stools. In particular, the last hundred pages or so was devoid of narrative tension as the story trundled to what seemed it's innevitable conclusion.

Another problem I had was visualising everything as it was described. I don't know if it was the author's use of words that made it difficult for me or if it was the sheer amount and complexity of strange environments, technologies and geometries presented to the reader to get their head around. Perhaps some maps, schematic diagrams and a clossary of characters might have been useful for reference.

That said, this was a visionary, ambitious work of SF that was crammed full of ideas which is precisely what SF should be doing. With a bit better writing and editing, this might have fulfilled it's potential to be the masterpiece it was trying to be.
 

clovis-man

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FE, I had pretty much an identical reaction to Eon when I read it. The plot lines just kept getting more convoluted with no specific resolution ever really occurring. And I also had a tough time visualizing the physical milieu.
 

Ursa major

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I read Eon in December. An interesting book, but I had problems with it:
My biggest problem concerned the characters; not the one or two cardboard villain types (which were minor characters), but the POVs: I found it hard to like any of them. On top of that, I sometimes felt that their behaviour was in support of the plot.
From http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/1455418-post186.html.

I've read some other stuff of his: Tangents (a collection which includes the short story version of Blood Music), Quantico and City at the End of Time.

Here are my impressions of the last of those (from http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/1233973-post151.html):
To put it simply, this was a slog. After the first few chapters, every time I picked up the book, I had to force myself to do so. Bear has chosen a big theme and a complex way of dealing with it. Neither he nor his structure are up to the job. That wouldn't be such a problem except that his characters are barely two-dimensional. (Actually, they are boring and in spite of the "talents" most of them have, could hardly be more dull or less memorable.
 

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

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I liked some of his early novels but his later stuff tends to normalise towards mainstream tech-novel/thriller mode, although not as much as Stross'. Moving Mars had a great premise weighed down by the fact that Bear decided it had to be all about the characterisation, which is not his strong point. I liked Blood Music, though.
 

Rodders

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I've never read Blood Muisic, so i think i'll pick it up on my next haul.
 

AdamCollings

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Interestingly, I am reading EON right now. I'm probably about a quarter of the way through so far.
I've got mixed feelings about it so far. It does drag in places, but it is intruiging enough to keep grabbing my attention. It introduces a lot of characters which tend to fade into one another for me. I guess so far I'd rate it quite good on plot, a little week on character identification.
But we'll see what I think at the end.
 

biodroid

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Got the Forge of God and so far not too bad. Was just wondering if the pace and tension would pick up. Not sure if this will be an action book but hopefully it won't be one of those where everything happens in the last 5 pages as in it will drag out so much that I would probably put it down before I finish it.
 

Daisy-Boo

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I read several Greg Bear books some years back but I drifted away because I couldn't connect to any of his characters. I simply didn't care much what happened to any of them. Back then, I had the vaguely guilty thought that I should like them much more than I did and that I was somehow just not getting his work. I don't feel that way now though. I put aside books that don't keep me interested, without a twinge of guilt. :)
 

Rodders

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I saw a book in Waterstones the other day called Hull Zero Three which sounded pretty interesting. Here's the blurb on the back:

"A starship hurtles through the emptiness of space. Its destination - unknown. Its purpose? A mystery. Its history? Lost. Now, one man wakes up. Ripped from a dream of a new home, a new planet and the woman he was meant to love in his arms, he finds himself wet, naked, and freezing to death. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting other survivors he meets might be the greater danger. All he has are questions: Who is he? Where are they going? What happened to the dream of a new life? What happened to the woman he loved? What happened to Hull 03? All will be answered, if he can survive. Uncover the mystery. Fix the ship. Find a way home. HULL ZERO THREE is an edge of your seat thrill ride through the darkest reaches of space."

I just bought three of the Lost Fleet books, so i'm not in the market for another trip to the book shop. I do think i'll try and pick this up on my next haul.
 

Rodders

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Got the Forge of God and so far not too bad. Was just wondering if the pace and tension would pick up. Not sure if this will be an action book but hopefully it won't be one of those where everything happens in the last 5 pages as in it will drag out so much that I would probably put it down before I finish it.
Hello Biodroid, i was wondering how you were getting on with this?
 

J-Sun

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Any fans of his here? Any other recommendations?
Here's an earlier post I made on the topic.

Regarding the Blood Musics, I'm probably one of the first to dismiss an expanded story but, in this case, both are great, IMO.

Agree with you, Rodders, Clovis-man, and Ursa: Eon has (or had) a 'great book' rep but I didn't really like it.

I pretty much lost interest in him, like hypnos164 (except that I loved Queen of Angels) but, as Rodders mentions, Hull Zero Three has caught my attention. I'll probably give that a try. Otherwise, I'd kind of considered Bear a past-tense author and, if I do get HZT and don't like it, that'd probably finally do it. I didn't like his moves into gaming novels and technothrillers even aside from hit or miss SF.

As far as his backlist, maybe I should try Forge/Anvil but I'm afraid it would be like Eon: high rep; low impact. Has anyone besides Rodders read both? And, Rodders, could you convince me to read Forge/Anvil? How do they differentiate themselves from Eon?

Last note: he isn't always the best story writer around (but isn't always the best novelist around) but people really need to look into his stories if they like some of his novels. Some of the stories ("Blood Music", "Hardfought" (especially - and that's a novella so may even suit storyphobes), etc.) are extraordinary.
 
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