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Publisher's Summary

In this first collaboration by science fiction masters Larry Niven (Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (Timescape), the limits of wonder are redrawn once again as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowl-shaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths...and it’s on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.
A landing party is sent to investigate the Bowl, but when the explorers are separated - one group captured by the gigantic structure’s alien inhabitants, the other pursued across its strange and dangerous landscape - the mystery of the Bowl’s origins and purpose propel the human voyagers toward discoveries that will transform their understanding of their place in the universe.
©2012 Gregory Benford and Larry Niven (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By Ric Austria on 01-28-13

Look up in the sky ... there's a bowl !?

(Reprised from my Goodreads review)

Scenario: There's a strange megastructure artifact in space, and some curious folk want to take a look-see. The premise, quite a well-traveled science fiction road, recalls favorites such as the ring of Larry Niven's Ringworld, the cylinder in Arthur Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama, the sphere in Bob Shaw's Orbitsville, the pipes in Alastair Reynolds's Pushing Ice, even the hole through the planet in Benford's own Furious Gulf.

The basic elements are the discovery, the trip, the entry, the exploration, the encounter with strange beings and the escape. Bowl of Heaven goes through discovery-trip-entry fairly quickly in the opening chapters, and here, the hard sf backgrounds of the authors certainly come to the fore and provide impetus for the story. Of course, one has to like hard sf to be able to tolerate all the physics references, otherwise this segment could be a chore. Then, the exploration-encounter phase sets in and this is where, perhaps, the story bogs down a bit.

Things pick up again as the aliens decide to focus in on the human escapees, and a hot pursuit begins. However, just as soon as the action picks up than the book ends. This is probably a publishing quirk, splitting a book into two, increasing margins and whatnot, but quite annoying. I would still take a look at the continuation of the series just for some form of resolution.

Recommended for fans of the genre and of these authors in particular. The style may be too stiff for many readers, like listening to a training manual. That does say a lot about my personal likes though.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Eduardo on 11-06-12

One word: poor

Would you try another book from Larry Niven and Gregory Benford and/or Zach Villa?

I am not inclined to

Would you ever listen to anything by Larry Niven and Gregory Benford again?

Again, not inclined

Which character – as performed by Zach Villa – was your favorite?

Not one but the performance is not the issue, the very weak, uninteresting and inconsistent characters are. Their contributions to the story are shallow and they resort to cheap antics (like "relief sex") where there's really no justification in the background story for it.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The fundamental idea of an inhabitable half dyson sphere with a surface equivalent to several large planets is tantalizing, to say the least. It is however very weakly explored and just focuses on a largely uninteresting Logan's run

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By DENNIS on 04-13-13

RECOMENDED FOR NIVEN FANS

REMINISCENT OF NIVENS RINGWORLD BOOKS WITH SOME OBVIOUS BENFORD INFLUENCES.FAST PACED,WITH BELIEVABLE CENTRAL CHARACTERS,OBVIOUSLY THE FIRST BOOK OF A SERIES,THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Bob Powell on 06-10-14

So disappointing

What would have made Bowl of Heaven better?

I wonder how Larry Niven's name ended up on this title. The intricacies and character quality of Niven's other works were in no way evident here. I see this as a cynical promotion of a poor ringworld-esque facsimile.<br/>Perhaps if Niven were actually a participating author?

Would you ever listen to anything by Larry Niven and Gregory Benford again?

Probably not. This was dire

Would you be willing to try another one of Zach Villa’s performances?

The characterisation was wooden and halting. I'll probably stay away.

What character would you cut from Bowl of Heaven?

The shipstar and the folk and the crew. Replace all that lot and you might have something.

Any additional comments?

I bought this because Larry Niven's name was on it. I don't feel as though his hand was in it.<br/>

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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