Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Book review: The Other End of Time

Frederick Pohl is one of the grandfathers of science fiction. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke read his stuff before they started writing.

I just finished reading his book "The Other End of Time". It's hard to know how much to tell you. It's a good book, but half of the fun is the ongoing revelations as the story progresses.

Earth has received a message from space. It shows the expansion and contraction of the universe from Big Bang to Big Crunch. A second one shows the same thing but with seven alien races that become known as The Seven Dwarves.

Our lead characters go up to a defunct observatory satellite to investigate some strange radiation. They meet one of the seven alien races who zaps them. One version of them goes back to Earth with altered memories. Another version is replicated in a mirrored room where they're studied by more of the aliens.

The aliens believe that Heaven comes after the big crunch. There everyone who lived comes back to life and lives forever. They're being attacked by an 8th alien race that they view as terrorists. The few messages our heroes get from the terrorists give a different viewpoint. But they would, wouldn't they? If and when they escape who should they support? Who should Earth listen to?

The book ends with a happy ending and a twist.

This book doesn't go in my top 10 but would probably make my top 100. It's kind of like "Ringworld" in that the characters are there largely to explore the world the author has created.

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