Bowl of Heaven

Bowl of Heaven

by Gregory Benford, Larry Niven
3.4 28

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Overview

Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford, Larry Niven

In Bowl of Heaven, the 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 bowlshaped 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765366467
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 205,419
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

GREGORY BENFORD is professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, and lives in Irvine. Benford is a winner of the United Nations Medal for Literature, and the Nebula Award for his classic novel Timescape.

LARRY NIVEN is the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces. His Beowulf's Children, coauthored with Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes, was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in Chatsworth, California.

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Bowl of Heaven 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. Kept my attention throughout, and didn't suffer from too much made-up alien thinking. However, I wish somebody else had written a review before me that said "WARNING: JUST ABOUT THE TIME YOU GET EXCITED ABOUT THE PLOT! IT SOPS DEAD -- TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT BOOK! Unlike most serial stories, this is not a free-standing installment that comes to some logical end. It just stops in the middle of the plot. It should not have been released without the second installment on the shelves beside it! I do recommend you buy it, but I strongly recommend you wait until the next installment is on the shelves as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This refers to the hardcover version of the novel. Every once in a while I read a book where I can barely restrain the urge to whip out a red pen, mark-up all the mistakes I find in the text, and mail it back to the publisher, requesting a job as an editor and a refund. This is one of those books. There are basic errors in the text that were not caught ranging from misspelling of characters' names, inexplicable changes in descriptions of known people or objects (think of someone being repeatedly described as blue-eyed suddenly described as brown-eyed), incorrect characters being referenced (e.g. a character stated as speaking when that character is not physically present). Then there were bigger errors, such one paragraph that was supposed to have been deleted but wasn't, as the character described as doing something wasn't physically there, and then the same action was repeated in the following paragraph by a character who was actually there. There was another section where I think 4-5 paragraphs were printed out of order; at least it made more sense when I read them in an order other than how they were printed. The humans in the story are separated into 3 groups physically separated by huge distances. There is a cast of characters in the beginning of the book that identifies which humans are in which group. Unfortunately, neither the authors nor the editors looked at it, as characters in one group would be referenced as being with another group, an intermittent error that persisted through the novel. There are more examples but they are difficult to describe without being spoilery. And while some of the errors could be construed as nit-picking, all of the mistakes taken as a whole give the impression that Tor just pushed this out the door figuring it would sell on name recognition and any mistakes would be overlooked because of the authors. For me, anyway, it also serves to repeatedly throw me out of the narrative, which definitely decreases my enjoyment of any story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Niven fan from way back. Can’t believe this is from his pen (so to speak). There is a story hiding in there somewhere, but it is lost with the ponderous pace of the narrative. Also quite disappointing to suffer through that many pages only to find this is only the first of who knows how many parts. I getting tired of authors and publishers that split one book into 2 or 3 pieces so they can sell more of them. At least forewarn us. Part two isn’t even out yet. Not that I would buy it. After 900 or so pages, I still don’t care what happens to the characters in this poorly told tale. What happened to the author of Ringworld, Lucifer’s Hammer, The Mote in God's Eye and so many other good (and self contained) books. Has his identity been stolen?
Warder More than 1 year ago
Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford is a Sci-Fi book that puts a twist on the Dyson Sphere theory. The twist being that instead of a sphere surrounding a star, there is a half-sphere shaped as a bowl. The interesting part of this bowl is that instead of being a permanent structure around a star, the star was modified into a form of propulsion. This book is the first in a series by Gregory and I think it’s a well thought out plot, if a bit lengthy of a book. There is a lot of detail provided but I don’t feel it hinders the read at all. This is more of a slow story with action packed sequences scattered throughout the pages. There is a bit of mystery in the plot as the team is trapped on an alien world with little contact to the outside, forcing them to fall back on their training to survive. The character development is not as great as some books I have read, but their quirks and traits are slowly revealed over the course of the 515 page novel. The characters are set into a cryostasis for a few century journey to a distant star hoping to colonize and form a new Earth. During the trip they encounter this strange bowl, and due to circumstances beyond their control, their best option is to land and seek resources. The timeline is easy enough to follow, no gaps in the sequences or scenes that would confuse the reader. There are a few unanswered plot lines at the end of the first book, but not in the sense of a cliffhanger ending. The writing has an intellectual feel to it, basically due to the details given on the alien world, inhabitants and local geology. I would say it is one of the more traditional science fiction book styles using an original concept based on an old theory. With that all being said, I did enjoy the book and look forward to the release of Shipstar, the next volume of the series.
Maurice65 More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book as I've been a Larry Niven fan for years, but my hopes were dashed by page 12,365 of 25,234 when I realized that nothing was happening. Seriously, it is 800 pages long with no discernable story. Just a bunch of humans walking around causing trouble on an alien bowl in the sky. I'll wait for the free library version of the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit ponderous and wordy, but the worst offense is that it actually feels like two authors working on two books and then throwing it in a blender with no editing. I was not overly bothered by the numerous typos mentioned by others, but the editing problems often affect the plot. At one point an alien tells another alien "those pesky humans have done A, B, and C!". Only problem - the pesky humans won't actually do C for another 200 pages and\or a month or so in chronology. A big climactic conflict will be told from one side and resolved, but the next chapter tells the same story from the other side (which is sheer drudgery since you know how it is resolved). Fundamentally, I get the feeling that the authors were going through the motions and nobody at the publishing house cared enough to do a critical copyedit. If I ever get around to reading the sequel, it's coming from the library - I'm not rewarding them for this drivel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the E-book version of this novel on my original nook. You'll see a lot of comments on the poor editing of the book -- I agree with them all.  I had read about 75 pages when I felt the disjointedness of the prose.  This is a real danger when authors collaborate, even good authors. The other shocker was the fact this turned out to be only part 1.  I wish I had known that up front, as it was an unwelcome revelation at the end of the book. The plot is very reminiscent of Niven's Ringworld novel.  The exception being this world is teaming with lots of different species.  The novel has at least 5 independent story threads. Only two of them are given much attention by the authors; this would have to be a much larger book to accommodate this many story lines.  It's ambitious and since I have not been able to read part 2, I cannot tell if they were successful. Over all, this is not a poor book.  I was entertained where the story dealt with technology and got pretty bored with the sermons on responsible ecology stewardship.  I'd like to know more about the master species of the bowl but there are scant details.  I do hope the authors divulge more in the second book -- except I am not sure I like this first one enough to buy the second.  I'll have to wait for those reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Epic scale, can't wait to read next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a great showing from benford or niven. Honestly, just poorly thought out. A poor imitation of ringworld!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loftismk More than 1 year ago
Excellent science book and typical LArry Niven. You are never disappointed. I like some of his views on the different approaches to the science of alien discovery and ideas of the different forms of life and how as a civilization we would interact. "Bowl of Heaven", a good bottle of wine, curled up on the recliner with fire place roaring meant an excellent evening of thought and wonderment! Well Done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow ramp up for me but once up to speed I began enjoying this strange book. Need more. Need book two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a disappointment. There might be a great story in here. Unfortunately, it's hidden behind terrible editing. The flow of the story is constantly disrupted by what I can only assume is draft content that never got cleaned up. Here's a concrete example. To set the stage, the character Tananareve has just been grabbed and placed out of the action for the time being. She should not be in any of the following text. "Given his ripped suit, Howard was breathing local air already. Tananareve got his suit peeled down, extracted the metal shard--Howard refused even to wince--and stopped the bleeding. She had him patched within minutes with a 'walking anesthetic' that would not impair his ability to move. Howard stayed silent through it all, looking at the many odd details of the flora and fauna, still doing his job." Three paragraphs later, "He took time to pull the metal spar out of Howard's arm. It stuck in the bone, then jerked loose. Irma had her medkit open; she handed him antibiotic gel, then superskin spray. They all pooled their medkits and made a selection. Howard asked, 'Painkiller?' Irma asked, 'Could you still run? Wait, here's a local anaesthetic.' She rubbed white cream generously over the bleeding wound." Two different versions of the same scene, almost like the author forgot to remove an early rough version. Stuff like this is ALL over the place. It reads like a corrupt file with a combination of multiple drafts badly mixed together. One paragraph even has, "Just like that, Beth disappeared. Just like that." I can't imagine Benford and Niven collaborated so poorly that this was the result they intended to publish. I have to assume that the publisher either rushed this out or made some fundamental mistake converting to ebook form.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the premise, but I felt the editing was poor and the authors could have ended the book with another 100 pages or less rather than stretch it out to a second volume. I had no clue there was a second one coming, otherwise I might not have bought the book. I'll check Shipstar to make sure it the end, otherwise I'll skip it and move on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A large scale idea which both authors are famous for, but I never connected with the characters in this one or got into the story. Both authors are great favorites separately though : )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this amazing novel. It is the best hard core science fiction I have read in many years. It reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke's and Isaac Asimov's best works. My only disappointment is that part two is not out yet, The ShipStar. I will purchase it as soon as it is out.
ebbourg More than 1 year ago
I like what I have read so far. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reminiscent of good sci-fi from the 70's and 80's it's predictable but comfortably fun. For those of you complaining that you have wait for the next installment....hey, that's sci-fi.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best Sci_Fi novel I have read; I could not put it down! I would call this a classic. The story is to be continued and I look forward to its publication .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago