Eternity by Greg Bear


Mad Mountain Man
Jun 29, 2010
Scottish Highlands

3/5 stars

Although it has the same characters and universe (multipleuniverses really) as Eon, the first book in the trilogy, this is really quite adifferent book. In some respects it was better than that first book, in othersworse.

I found this book was much less confusing than Eon; itmanaged to make the whole Hexamon society much more understandable andaccessible. In Eon I felt I was being bombarded by too much new stuff all thetime and this made the book and certainly my recollections of it more than alittle confused. Eternity, on the other hand, is somehow much easier to follow,though the plot itself is no less complex. I also found myself getting closerto the characters than I ever did in Eon (even though many of them are thesame!).

My main complaint with Eternity was its pacing which I foundvery poor. The first half to two thirds of the book I found very slow and itreally dragged. The latter part of the book did redeem it though, and was verygood. I struggled a little bit with the Gaia sections which were inevitablyvery different to the other parts of the books and it always felt like a bigswitch moving between those sections and the others and yet despite this Ithink I ended up liking those sections the best. Go figure.

All in all not an excellent book, but a good enough one forme to read the third at some time in the future.
Interesting review Vertigo, thanks. I was thinking of reading some more Greg Bear, and wondered what to read after I quite enjoyed Eon a couple years back. If you (or anyone else) would care to compare the quality of other Greg Bear books with this sequel to help me choose which direction I might take, that would be great. Maybe if folks who have read Forge of Stars/Anvil of God, Blood Music, Darwin's Radio, etc, could list them in "ought to read it next" order from best to worst that would be exceptionally helpful. Thanks.
My take:

  • Queen of Angels (1990) - This is vaguely connected to Moving Mars, Slant, and at least one novella, but can absolutely be read alone - a dense, fascinating book about AI.
  • Blood Music (1985) - Consensus opinion seems to be that this is his biggest masterpiece (though a relatively slim book) and it certainly is some degree of classic, though I like QoA better. Biotech and Great Changes.
  • The Forge of God (1987) - Not my cup of tea, in that it's an alien invasion disaster novel, but it's a really good one. Consensus is probably that this is his third great classic.
  • Moving Mars (1993) - Bear pushes "science" as far as it can go in this sort of "Mars Is a Harsh Mistress" tale but it was gripping. As with QoA, this is in the weird sort of series but can be read alone, though it's better to read QoA first so that you know who one character is.
  • Anvil of Stars (1992) - This is a sequel to FoG and is my cup of tea, in that it's a space opera of interstellar retribution, but, ironically, I didn't like it as much as the precursor. Some people like one or the other better and some really dislike this one but I still think it's good - just not as good.

  • Eon (1985) - This is probably generally considered his second most essential work but, when I first read it, I didn't like it. IIRC, it was a BDO story with nothing else to grab me and the BDO story took too long to get going. However, since I enjoyed the FoG/AoS duo so much - and thus everything else he'd written in the period - I reacquired this (and even Eternity (1988)) to give it another try. There's a prequel (Legacy (1995)) but I don't intend to get it unless I'm really blown away by the other two.

  • Slant (1997) - Part of the weird "series", this was a huge disappointment coming off QoA/MM and has next to nothing to do with either and was just a standard sort of plot and dull characters and didn't do anything new and wasn't well written.
  • Hull Zero Three (2010) - This was many orders of magnitude worse. A conventional tale dressed up in navel-gazing weirdness and opaque prose to try to hide the fact.

Since the mid-90s, he's done very little besides a flood of ties and technothrillers and whatnot and, when two of his maybe four exceptions are this bad, I've given up on him and define him as a 1985-1993 novelist (he started writing novels in 1979 but none of the early stuff gained much notice from many people and never really interested me. However, I've also read his two major collections - The Wind from a Burning Woman (1983) and Tangents (1989) - which I've superseded with The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (2002) and he started publishing those when he was 16/17 in 1967 (though he didn't publish many until at least '75). They started getting pretty good by '78 and he'd become a master by 1983 with "Hardfought" and the original story version of "Blood Music". Interestingly, he's written precious few stories since 1993, which corresponds with his novel decline. But, again, the core stories from 1983-1993 and some earlier ones (and conceivably some later) are as essential as his great novels.

Let the disputes begin! :) But I hope the above, or those who disagree with it, helps you out.
That's very helpful, J-Sun, much obliged. I'll put some of those top 5 on the TBR pile then. Any other insights from anyone else? (I may have asked this in the wring forum I guess).
Actually (sorry for double post, just thought of this) - I have actually read another of his novels - a Star Wars novel called Rogue Planet! It wasn't bad... but it wasn't great either. :)
Oops sorry Bick don't know why I never saw your original post in here - it should have been listed as a subscribed thread for me but wasn't for some reason.

So maybe a bit late now but:

I have only read

Blood Music - which I agree with J-Sun was brilliant
Eon - as above :)
Eternity - sequel to Eon but not nearly as good
Darwin's Radio - for which I've just put up a review and probably just falls into J-Sun's techno thriller description. Which was also not as good as Blood Music but I still enjoyed it enough to plan to read the sequel Darwin's children.

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