ACROSS THE SEA OF SUNS by Gregory Benford
Kirkus Star

ACROSS THE SEA OF SUNS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Following the flawed but outstanding Against Infinity (p. 145), Benford arrives with another expert hard-science sf novel--a sequel to the rather unfocused and labored In the Ocean of Night (1977). There's a fascinating double-narrative thread here. Aliens called ""Swarmers,"" together with their intelligent adult form, the ""Skimmers,"" have been dumped in Earth's oceans by invading machine-aliens in the hope that they and the humans will destroy each other. And shipwreck survivor Warren drifts on a raft in the Pacific, painfully attempting to communicate with the Skimmers (who aren't hostile and understand the situation), while a confused, panicky human race edges toward nuclear war. Meanwhile, in the book's other plot-strand, starship Lancer, exploring nearby stars, has found only pitiful remnants of once-advanced cultures and technologies. Around each planet where life has arisen orbits a Watcher, an artificial asteroid left by the same machine-aliens, whose function is to exterminate organic life. (A million years ago Earth's Watcher was destroyed by a friendly spaceship.) And trying to make sense of all this on Lancer is wise old polymath Nigel Walmsley--but even he can't dissuade his shipmates from making a disastrous attack on a Watcher, which retaliates murderously. . . leaving the ship stranded light-years from warring Earth. The characters are solid; the alien planets and creatures, built on brilliant scientific extrapolation, are utterly convincing; the taut, gripping narrative is marred only by overlong experimental passages. In sum: another splendid performance that will have readers on the edge of their seats--waiting for the trilogy's concluding volume.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1983
Publisher: Timescape/Pocket Books--dist. by Simon & Schuster