I missed this novel back in my heyday of reading sci-fi, no idea why, so just thought that I would catch up on what is a widely respected classic. Many science fiction books date quickly as science advances and what can sometimes be a tale of prediction is surpassed by the times. In certain respects that is the case with regard to this novel. It was written when the Soviet power base was still huge and China an emerging world power. Europe had recently become a closer conglomerate and the US was clearly a leader in technology with only Japan echoing and surpassing the US at times.
I will not go into depth about the story but what we all worried about in the seventies and eighties has come to pass, nuclear destruction on a huge scale. Most of the remainder of the human race now reside in a hollowed out asteroid that was found floating in a distant earth orbit. Things become stranger still as the Americans, Chinese and Soviets realize that t
he asteroid was created by mankind, but a future mankind, stranger still when they find it is still occupied by our descendants. I will stop there, all this is obvious in the first few chapters of the book, I shall not spoil your anticipation of what is to come.
The book itself is a marvel, it still plays out well even though the predicted history has not come true, yet for those of you who lived through the cold war we all know how close this came to becoming fact. What impressed me most however was the general story telling. Mr Bear is a really good writer whose prose and use of language would stand up well in any genre. He carries the story well, it has good pace and is incredibly well thought out for a large scale piece. The only let down for me, and it is a small one was that he tried to introduce the mores of the future, As Heinlein did in "Stranger in a strange land" and to a small extent he was right but the majority remain tied to an older tradition even now well after this fiction takes place. Do not let this little thing put you off. This is a great novel, well written and told. I thoroughly enjoyed it.