Taken as a book, Gregory Benford and Larry Niven’s Bowl of Heaven is good. It’s SF in that classic Rama/Ringworld style, where humans exploring in the vast deepness of space stumble on a bizarre world-construct, and have to figure out its purpose and the purpose of its makers.

It’s a genre of story I like, and it’s well done here… except for one thing: This is not a finished story. It’s the first nth of an n-book series, apparently, and it absolutely does not end in any meaningful sense. There’s no indication of this anywhere in the description of the book, and it was only as I was getting near the end of the book that I started to get that sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to get a conclusion.

So, sure, I like the book, but I am constitutionally incapable of recommending incomplete novels that aren’t clearly marked as such and don’t have a clear plan for getting finished. Especially because the history of series in this subgenre (the aforementioned Rama, Brin’s Uplift books, Pohl’s Heechee books) don’t hold out much hope about how well things are going to end. So put this one on the “wait” pile for now.


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