29 April 2012

The Way: A Review of Greg Bear

All over the news is the talk  of asteroid mining in the very near future.  The CBC Saturday morning talk show is spending valuable air time to discuss how Canada can ensure that we as a mighty country can be one of the players in this new mining race. Although I find this fascinatingly improbable at this current time (How many of us have actually made it off planet? And of those where have they gone, the moon.  That is so 1960's already.) it does lend me the opportunity to introduce one of my favourite "asteroid" inspired SF novels. Asteroids play a major role in the SF diorama.  They can be hopeful, threatening, dominating, obscure, surreal, alienating and even sentient.  My favourites tend to be of the geod variety.  From the outside,  a large frozen mass of ice, rock and air.  From the inside, a cave of wonders with endless possibilities for survival and/or death. 

Eon, Greg Bear
To date I have yet to come across a more science laced, befuddling mind trip than Eon.  Eon, the first in The Way series is set in 2005.  The world is at the brink of WWW III when an object appears in the solar system from out of nowhere.  A team of Russian, Chinese and American scientists  begin to explore the Stone ( asteroid).  As the exploration widens it is discovered that the dimensions of the stone's exterior does not compensate for the vastness of it's 7 chambers.  What is found in those chambers I will let you discover on your own.  Trust me when I say this, do not check out wikepedia.  The plot is shamelessly laid out and to truly enjoy this book you should be as unaware of what lies in those chambers as possible.  

There isn't a book that I haven't enjoyed by Greg Bear. The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction considers him the best working writer of hard SF.  Eon, Eternity and Legacy contain some heady themes:  genetic engineering, post-symbolic communication, human augmentation to name a few.  I am not going to pretend, at times I had no idea what Bear was trying to describe.  That is the fun of hard SF, it  pushes you into thinking about new realities using mathematics and science.  Plus you end up feeling like a bad ass having been able to to make it to the end.