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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2000 by Robert Reed

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point    Superb (5/5)

I first read this in December 2001.

Just a few hundred years in the future, humans discover a gigantic spaceship in the depths of interstellar space. The vessel is the size of Jupiter, it's empty, abandoned and of almost unimaginable antiquity. Humans occupy it and eventually achieve some degree of control over this monstrous vessel, offering passage through the galaxy to any human or alien, who wants to take the trip of a lifetime.

In the centre of this ship, hidden and protected, they will discover the most astounding secret.

I'll avoid going into any further detail about the plot, but believe me: this is a superlative piece of science fiction. I picked it up in Singapore from MPH as airplane fodder for a flight to Tokyo. I knew nothing about the author, and little about the novel (just a short paragraph on the back cover) and simply hoped for an amusing read.

I started reading during the turbulent flight and even though I was barely paying attention, the notion eventually percolated through that this might be a great book.

I put the book away and occupied myself as well as I could over the remaining hours of the flight, drinking vodka martinis and failing pathetically to engage either my neighbour or the stewardess in conversation, eventually reduced to mentally drafting a letter to the Singapore government asking them why on earth they make their entry forms so completely unreadable under aircraft lighting. So it was with some excitement that I finally settled into my seat on the excellent Keisei Skyliner from Narita airport into Tokyo and, popping open a can of black coffee and lighting a much-needed cigarette, finally got down to some serious reading for the hour-long journey to Ueno.

Yes, it's astounding, the ship is the Gormanghast of spacecraft. You thought the Battlestar was big? Pah! That's just a peanut compared to this elephantine vessel. Marrow itself, and the technology that allows it to survive, is another wonder - an astonishing place.

This book is full of excellent ideas but what gets me above all is the vast timescale of the novel, as our near-immortal humans, Washen, Miocene, Diu and Pamir and of course the Master Captain herself survive and struggle down through the ages.

So what's it got? Almost everything really: aliens, alien technology, biotechnology to die for, space-travel, hand-to-hand fighting and space battles, asteroid impacts and unexplored worlds and lost civilisations.

No noticeable sex, though.

I really, really hope there's a sequel coming. In the meantime, read this book.

Loaded on the 10th December 2001.
Cover of Marrow
Cover art by Bob Warner

Reviews of other works by Robert Reed:
Black Milk
Down The Bright Way
Sister Alice
The Well Of Stars

Reviews of other works with covers by Bob Warner:
Beyond Infinity
Far Frontiers
Shadow Of The Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Walter Conventions of War

Reviews of other works with covers by Bob Warner and Rita Frangie:
Red Thunder