Genre: first contact science fiction
Length: 556 pages
Setting: near future Earth
Interest: I’d heard an audio version of one of the storylines in the novel on Escape Pod (Aficionado if you’re interested in listening). It was about the beginning of Uplift (a different series her wrote that I loved) and I was intrigued enough to track it down.
Summary: We follow several interconnected storylines throughout the novel. Gerald, an astronaut in the space station, is essentially an orbital garbage man. He finds an object that turns out to be a crystal alien artifact. It communicates with humans and tries to convince us to build more crystal emissaries to send out to space. It is only when the worldstone found by Peng Xiang Bin comes to light with its competing message that humans realize the crystals are essentially a virus. Humans head out to the asteroid belt to find more crystals and also find robot emissaries mostly destroyed in millenia-ago wars. Now humans have to try to navigate a potentially hostile universe and the crystal plague with ingenuity and diversity.
Final thoughts: While I enjoyed this book and now want to reread his Uplift books again, I have some reservations. This is not a good book for someone new to science fiction. There are way too many POVs and separate storylines to keep track of. They all do come together by the end, but they are very separate at the beginning (so separate that several have been published independently). It wasn’t until the last 100 pages or so when they got into space that I really felt compelled to read and really wanted to know what happens next. It is a very positive and hopeful book that posits the hypothesis of diversity of being and opinion will help us thread the needle for survival instead of destruction. The final, minor disappointment was there wasn’t any new Uplift plot in the book – I’d heard it all in the podcast. I really wanted more, mainly because of how much I enjoyed the Uplift novels.
Title comes from: How humanity will exist in the galaxy and how that existence changes over time.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 56/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and a B in my Author Alphabet Challenge
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!