A New York Times Notable Book: “Hard science and human interest intersect ingeniously in this prequel to [Greg] Bear’s Eon and Eternity” (Publishers Weekly).
The Way is a tunnel to the multiverse, infinite possible realities throughout the universe. From its entranceway in Axis City, the space station at the center of the asteroid-starship Thistledown, one may travel to any world and any time.
Lamarckia is a world very much like Earth, but populated by shapeshifting biological forms. More than four thousand colonists have illegally used the Way to settle there, and the ruling gatekeepers fear that the interaction between humans and aliens could prove devastating to the future of both species.
Now, Olmy Ap Sennon has been sent to Lamarckia to spy on the colonists and investigate their effect on their new home. As he witnesses their struggle to survive their unforgiving environment—and each other—Olmy experiences all of the joy and heartache that comes from a life worth living, in “a stunning SF novel that extrapolates a scientifically complex future from the basic stuff of human nature” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Hard science and human interest intersect ingeniously in this prequel to Bear's Eon (1987) and Eternity (1988). Twenty-five years after the opening of The Way, a kind of tunnel through space that permits access to different planets and time continua, Olmy Ap Sennon is sent through it to spy on 4000 ``divaricates'' who fled the starship Thistledown for a utopian existence on the sylvan world of Lamarckia. What he finds, instead, is a full-blown divaricate civil war, whose opposing sides mirror his own ambivalent feelings about life aboard the strictly regimented starship. Olmy and the divaricates work through their respective identity crises against the exuberantly imagined backdrop of Lamarckia, a planet whose integrated ecosystem adapts readily to change. While occasionally numbing in their detail, Bear's meticulous descriptions of flora and fauna serve an important function: they authenticate Lamarckia as a world that assimilates and learns from other organisms, making it the perfect crucible for examining the personal and political dramas staged within it. This is a stunning SF novel that extrapolates a scientifically complex future from the basic stuff of human nature.
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This was an excellent read. The world building was outstanding, detailed without becoming overly technical. The plot was separate from the world building, but nonetheless integral to the overall story. Greg Bear never fails.