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.
I absolutely loved this book. I especially like first contact stories and “Bowl Of Heaven” is full of adventure and what if’s. Niven also wrote the “Ringworld” series and his imagination is in full force with this one… a bowl shaped intergalactic craft that is as large as 93,000,000 miles, a half sphere. Our erstwhile humans set off on a journey of their own to the only known earth like planet discovered… hundreds of light years away. They are interrupted along the way by the discovery of this “bowl.” Benford brings along his outstanding writing style and is well served here in the “Bowl.”
The world-building in this book reminds me of the “Ringworld” series, of course, but so much different! The actions of the aliens, the “adopted” species (other aliens picked up on the Bowl’s vast journey) the newly arrived humans, all are a treat for the senses. Are the humans smarter than the builders of the “Bowl?” The humans can barely grasp the scale of the artifact, but their intentions and explorations propel the story along. And it is fast paced and filled with wonder… truly a question asking adventure about what it is to be human and what would happen if “we” met a “they.”
The story telling in “Bowl” is expert. No one forms a sentence like Niven and I am sure Benford was carried along as well. I just love carefully crafted phrases with intelligible descriptions. I am a Ninja Reader and I don’t waste a lot of time reading authors that don’t encapsulate great storytelling and use of nouns and little known adjectives. Niven and Benford excel in this regard.
I totally got lost in this novel. As was probably intended by Niven and Benford. I was disappointed that this novel ended in a true “Cliff Hanger!” I can’t wait for the next one…
ShipSpace. This is a review I did for NetGalley and am especially proud to be chosen to read this one.