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Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to interstellar science fiction as a discovery within the SETI library on the moon turns out to be deadly. Shadows of Eternity is a novel set two centuries from now. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to interstellar science fiction as a discovery within the SETI library on the moon turns out to be deadly. Shadows of Eternity is a novel set two centuries from now. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences. Ruth, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own. She opens doors into strangeness beyond imagination—and in her quest for understanding nearly gets killed doing it. Gregory Benford is one of science fiction’s iconic writers, having been nominated for four Hugo Awards and twelve Nebula Awards. Shadows of Eternity marks Gregory Benford’s return to the sweeping galactic science fiction that readers have been waiting for.


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Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to interstellar science fiction as a discovery within the SETI library on the moon turns out to be deadly. Shadows of Eternity is a novel set two centuries from now. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to interstellar science fiction as a discovery within the SETI library on the moon turns out to be deadly. Shadows of Eternity is a novel set two centuries from now. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences. Ruth, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own. She opens doors into strangeness beyond imagination—and in her quest for understanding nearly gets killed doing it. Gregory Benford is one of science fiction’s iconic writers, having been nominated for four Hugo Awards and twelve Nebula Awards. Shadows of Eternity marks Gregory Benford’s return to the sweeping galactic science fiction that readers have been waiting for.

30 review for Shadows of Eternity

  1. 4 out of 5

    BLOBBIE

    ahhhhhhh!, This my first ARC! I'm so excited to read this!! THIS BETTER BE GOOD! cause I want my first ARC to memorable in a good way! :)) ahhhhhhh!, This my first ARC! I'm so excited to read this!! THIS BETTER BE GOOD! cause I want my first ARC to memorable in a good way! :))

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    Interestingly enough, if I had read the post-script before the novel, I probably would have gotten into the tale a bit quicker. Why? Because it's an ongoing conversation with the writer Poul Anderson and his future history, concepts of future history, aliens, and where we might go as a species. And being a fan of Poul Anderson, I probably would have been much more enthusiastic. At least, I would have had a better idea where this might have gone. As it is, this is not a short-term SF adventure featu Interestingly enough, if I had read the post-script before the novel, I probably would have gotten into the tale a bit quicker. Why? Because it's an ongoing conversation with the writer Poul Anderson and his future history, concepts of future history, aliens, and where we might go as a species. And being a fan of Poul Anderson, I probably would have been much more enthusiastic. At least, I would have had a better idea where this might have gone. As it is, this is not a short-term SF adventure featuring a simple librarian in space. Librarian for an alien archive, that is. What we actually get is snippets and adventures across decades and decades and then much further on down the line as humanity grows and learns and gets more involved in its own long-term survival. But honestly? I didn't care so much for the MC. She was okay. The problems and the discoveries and the long-term SFnal ideas were much more interesting but that usually isn't entirely enough to hold a tale. Even if I wish it were so. All told, I still found it enjoyable enough and don't regret it at all. Long-term adventure is pretty awesome, after all.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received a digital advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like it. The cover caught my attention and then I read the description. A SETI library on the moon, messages from aliens, and artificial intelligences?! Count me in! Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed, frustrated, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. POSITIVES The overall plot and various details were fascinating. Humans colonizing the moon and Mars, how they communica I received a digital advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like it. The cover caught my attention and then I read the description. A SETI library on the moon, messages from aliens, and artificial intelligences?! Count me in! Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed, frustrated, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. POSITIVES The overall plot and various details were fascinating. Humans colonizing the moon and Mars, how they communicate with alien artificial intelligences and study messages from undiscovered alien societies, contact with intelligent aliens, intelligent planets, wormholes, etc. These things alone are what kept me reading. However, the negatives almost made me quit halfway and, honestly, I probably should have. NEGATIVES [Trigger Warning: The following section contains references to events that may be traumatic to some readers.] Small Issues The overall pacing was slow and the timeline was confusing. I had no sense of how much time was passing within and between chapters. Subplots were never resolved and some characters were just never mentioned again. It actually felt like the second half was a new plot and should’ve been a separate book. The editing needs some work as well. Words were often misspelled and the same sentence, paragraph, and even an entire section popped up twice as if the author had decided to move it and forgot to delete it’s original. Writing Style This is a hard science novel, which is completely fine. I can handle some hard science but the writing style was straight like reading a textbook. I’m sure there are numerous, amazing ideas and theories but they were written in a way that was difficult to understand. Environments were overly described and I often zoned out reading them. Overall, it felt pompous and pretentious. This writing style also made it extremely difficult to connect with the characters, especially the protagonist, Rachel. We were often told what she was seeing, doing, and feeling, but never felt as if we were experiencing it with her. [Trigger Warning] Sexism Surprisingly, most of the sexism was directed towards men in this book. Men were often implied to be aggressive and unsafe for women. Women make plans for how to deal with men in bars and there’s a type of human genetically created to be sexless, being described as safe for women to be around them. Related side note, the genetically altered people are said to generally prefer they/them pronouns but Rachel chooses not to respect that, referring to her specific higher ups as men due to their masculine appearance. Somewhat rude and bigoted. Sexual Assault and Sexuality This is my biggest problem with this novel. Whether or not it’s just an issue of a man trying to write from a woman’s perspective, there are things that happen in this book that are just unacceptable. Red flags went up when Rachel was kissed and groped against her will by a stranger and no one, not even herself, said or did anything about it, acting as if it was fine and normal and just a little embarrassing. Blaring alarms went off not much later. While communicating with an alien AI using a full sensory “pod,” it demands sex in return for solar system saving information. Rachel refuses, her commanding officer tells her to do it anyway, she still refuses, tries to get the info again, and the AI basically rapes her. Her higher ups deny knowing this was going to happen and when she confronts the AI later, it tells her it was acceptable because she wanted it. Then Rachel feels guilty because she thinks she actually enjoyed it. There were no consequences or punishments. Besides getting the information they needed, the only other result was Earth media found out she was the first to have sex with an alien AI, leaving out it was technically rape. In the end, she doesn’t even seem the least bit upset claiming this like it’s some kind of accomplishment. I believe in women having sexual freedom but after this disgusting, pointless rape subplot, the way Rachel’s sexuality was written just made me uncomfortable. Rachel goes out looking for men to sleep with regularly, sleeps with a coworker, finds a future coworker attractive and she becomes “moist” while looking at him. She even fantasizes about sleeping with a bird-like alien to then become his lover in the end. Were any of these details really needed to build her character and drive this story? No. Conclusion All that said, I really do believe the bones of a really amazing story with amazing characters is here. It’s just buried under subplots and details that are uncomfortable and not needed. Needless to say, I do not recommend this book and I hope the author might consider making a number of edits before it's officially released.

  4. 4 out of 5

    LilliSt

    I have received a digital advance review copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you! 1 star - This could have been so good ... DNF at 51 % Okay, so I have many feelings and this will be a bit ranty, but bear with me. When I first heard about the premise I thought this book would be a total winner. A SETI-Library on the moon? Deciphering and translating alien messages? What could possibly go wrong? Well, this is an excellent example for how to ruin a good idea. Let's s I have received a digital advance review copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you! 1 star - This could have been so good ... DNF at 51 % Okay, so I have many feelings and this will be a bit ranty, but bear with me. When I first heard about the premise I thought this book would be a total winner. A SETI-Library on the moon? Deciphering and translating alien messages? What could possibly go wrong? Well, this is an excellent example for how to ruin a good idea. Let's start with the good stuff: this book is chock full of great ideas. The whole setup with the SETI library on the moon is fantastic. We are a couple of hundred years in the future and humanity has received plenty of messages through the SETI program. So many and complex messages actually, that the library that has been installed to understand them is now a very prestigious organization and only the best get accepted to work there. The received data streams have in some cases contained even whole AIs, called Minds, that now live on the servers of the library. Librarians can communicate with them via so-called pods, basically an interface that connects to the whole sensory range. I actually really liked how the translation process is described as being very mathematical and complex - and understanding the alien thought processes is not possible by using mere words. It is quite mind-bending, actually, and this aspect was captured well. But now here's the less good stuff. So, this one's hopelessly old-fashioned in the worst way regarding gender roles and the treatment of sexuality. Want some examples? Early on, Rachel, the protagonist, is being groped and kissed (against her will) by another woman and only reacts with being kind of embarrassed. Not a single person surrounding this scene (and there are many!) feels like this is a violation and the whole incident is just being shrugged off. Then there's the comments about how women are safe with a certain group of people because they have been removed of their sexuality - because of course we all know that men are just hypersexual brutes who cannot help themselves but to attack women who cross their path. Every single stupid stereotype about men and women you have ever heard of is scattered throughout the story. Men are aggressive and territorial. Women are intuitive. PMSing women are moody. All of the above is dumb, but I could maybe have lived with it if I really tried. But there is more and it is NOT COOL. See, there is a whole sub-plot about one of the AIs Rachel interacts with wanting to have sex with her. She doesn't want to and tells the AI so. She also tells her supervisor - and guess how they react: they order her to do it anyway, because they hope to get some very important information from this AI. Rachel continues interacting with that AI and, sure enough, it enters her mind against her will and has sex with her. Not sure how to call this anything but rape. But worst of all: Rachel is mostly a little angry at herself because she kind of enjoyed it and otherwise just shrugs it off. Her supervisor actually even tells her that they don't see her issue, because she seemed to be enjoying herself. Awesome. And that's it, Rachel reacts by banging some dude (yes, really) and the story just moves on. Later in the plot some aliens who have wings and can fly enter the stage. And, would't we have guessed it, again Rachel is being encouraged to "get to know the leader better" by her supervisor (yes, it is very much implied that her having sex with him would be appreciated). Her reaction: "Umm, sure, that smart bird (her words, not mine - and really offensive on its own) is actually kinda a hot dude..." I CANNOT. I have this feeling that the author doesn't really GET people. All of the characters are incredibly two-dimensional, some you could only call one-dimensional really. I do not care about any of them, there is no growth, no relatable feelings. The dialogue is ridiculous and most of the time I have no idea what everybody is supposed to be insinuating. And seriously, why did Benford chose a female main character? He clearly cannot relate to her at all, so I cannot help but think this is just a bit of tokenism, because feminist Sci-Fi is on the rise. Well, this is NOT how you do feminist Sci-Fi! Also, the prose is really stuffy, convoluted and not terribly accessible. I guess it's supposed to be literary and metaphorical but to me it just feels very self-congratulatory. I'm so dissappointed and did not finish this one. I cannot remember the last time I did that, actually. I guess there's an audience for this book out there, but it definitely was not for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Simms

    According to the author's afterword, Shadows of Eternity grew out of the idea of not writing the standard SETI story of the first message received, but fast-forwarding hundreds of years to when many messages have been detected and their study is an academic discipline all its own (which is a pretty great idea). As such, the book is centered around the SETI Library, an archive of such messages on the Moon, and one particular new librarian, Rachel Cohen. Frankly, the book feels like it wants to be According to the author's afterword, Shadows of Eternity grew out of the idea of not writing the standard SETI story of the first message received, but fast-forwarding hundreds of years to when many messages have been detected and their study is an academic discipline all its own (which is a pretty great idea). As such, the book is centered around the SETI Library, an archive of such messages on the Moon, and one particular new librarian, Rachel Cohen. Frankly, the book feels like it wants to be a short story collection rather than a novel; there are, I'd say, 6 distinct plot sections, each of which could stand alone with a different POV character: 1) Some kind of interstellar cloud of danger is impinging on the solar system, and Rachel must try to find out some information from the archive that can help humanity survive it 2) Rachel is set the task of deciphering another difficult AI message, and learns to express math as an alien symphony 3) A ship full of sentient bird-like aliens (called the Ythri, inspired by the work of Benford's friend and contemporary Poul Anderson) arrives in the solar system via wormhole and demands Rachel as the liaison for making first contact (which consists of her basically doing a bunch of extreme sports with the leader of the Ythri, named Fraq) due to her role in resolving the threat in Part 1 4) Fraq and Rachel (and others) go to Mars to communicate with the Marsmat, a semi-sentient anaerobic organism living underground there, about a previous visit by the Ythri something like a million years ago 5) Rachel accompanies an expedition to retrieve the Mouth of the wormhole that Fraq's ship came in through, which spun away as they exited it and ended up trapped in a magnetic arch very near the surface of the sun 6) Seven years later, now Rachel is a full-time co-pilot of the ship from Part 5, and takes part in the first human transit of the wormhole Some of these bits are super interesting, especially the Marsmat section. But the pacing is a little weird (the first two sections are MUCH shorter than the greater Ythri plotline, and have virtually nothing to do with anything that happens later), and there's no real credible reason why Rachel should be central to all of these. She starts out as a librarian of no particular prowess or experience, and Part 1 is solved by no real action of her own -- the AI she's talking to kind of just thinks she's hot and basically rapes her so it can experience her sensorium when she has an orgasm, and then tells her how to save the solar system (because its prime directive is its own preservation and propagation, and if the solar system gets fried so does it). Which is more than a little uncomfortable as a reader. She has a more active role as a librarian in Part 2, but all the subsequent parts are so far afield from her training and specialization it doesn't really make sense to have her as the unitary POV carrying through each. It saves Benford from having to introduce and characterize a new protagonist for each section, but it's not like Rachel is a well-fleshed-out character in the first place; the only real consistent character trait that sticks out is that she's kinda horny and keeps sexualizing and hooking up with men(view spoiler)[ and Fraq, inevitably, by the end (hide spoiler)] . Not a strong enough character to be worth the suspension of disbelief that she would be part of all these subplots. This is my first Benford, but it seems to me that people read Benford for the hard-SF technical detail and cool science, so the above complaints probably aren't that big a problem -- and probably are just a consequence of him having too many interesting ideas, that range too widely, for one plot through-line to encompass them coherently. If you're here for the hard-SF of it all, you won't be disappointed; it would just be nice if the other aspects of the book were a little stronger. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me an ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Shadows of Eternity Author: Gregory Benford Publisher: Gallery Books/Saga Press Publication Date: October 19, 2021 Review Date: July 1, 2021 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: ““A fascinating plunge into a new world. I loved the idea of the SETI Library on the moon. Chasing wormholes is also a wild ride!” —Jack McDevitt, bestselling author of Octavia Gone Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to int Book Review: Shadows of Eternity Author: Gregory Benford Publisher: Gallery Books/Saga Press Publication Date: October 19, 2021 Review Date: July 1, 2021 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: ““A fascinating plunge into a new world. I loved the idea of the SETI Library on the moon. Chasing wormholes is also a wild ride!” —Jack McDevitt, bestselling author of Octavia Gone Shadows of Eternity is legendary author Gregory Benford’s return to interstellar science fiction as a discovery within the SETI library on the moon turns out to be deadly. Shadows of Eternity is a novel set two centuries from now. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences. Ruth, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own. She opens doors into strangeness beyond imagination—and in her quest for understanding nearly gets killed doing it. Gregory Benford is one of science fiction’s iconic writers, having been nominated for four Hugo Awards and twelve Nebula Awards. Shadows of Eternity marks Gregory Benford’s return to the sweeping galactic science fiction that readers have been waiting for.  —— I know that Mr. Benford is a highly esteemed long-time writer of science fiction. But this book…was a very difficult slog. Primarily because I found it too cerebral. The world he built was difficult for me to grasp. The characters were bland. I had a hard time visualizing all the various physical spaces encountered, and the plot moved like molasses. I would give this book 2-3 stars, not recommended. It is very unusual for me to not recommend a book. Perhaps I will take another swipe in the future. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me access to this book. This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. #shadowsofeternity #gregorybenford #gallerypress #sciencefiction

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Tas

    Read this review and other Science Fiction/Fantasy book reviews at The Quill to Live I’m always up to visit the works of well established authors in the genre. Most of the time, I end up reading their newer work because it’s more relevant. So when a book is touted as being the return of an award winning author, my ears perk up and my nose picks up the scent of new prey, UwU. Unfortunately, this time the trail led me astray, and I found myself wanting. The Shadows of Eternity, by Gregory Benford, Read this review and other Science Fiction/Fantasy book reviews at The Quill to Live I’m always up to visit the works of well established authors in the genre. Most of the time, I end up reading their newer work because it’s more relevant. So when a book is touted as being the return of an award winning author, my ears perk up and my nose picks up the scent of new prey, UwU. Unfortunately, this time the trail led me astray, and I found myself wanting. The Shadows of Eternity, by Gregory Benford, is a squandering of potential that spends more time trying to find a point than make one. The book is a series of stories that follows the life of Rachel, as she pursues her career as a librarian at a large SETI station on the moon. Here, massive amounts of data from far flung intelligent civilizations are compiled and given to AI personalities that serve as avatars for those civilizations. Rachel’s job is to communicate and bargain with these AIs to break their code and gain knowledge that is helpful to humanity. Over the course of decades Ruth solves several puzzles while dealing with several AI and the civilizations they are compiled from. However, she ends up being visited by a trailer from another star and becomes his primary envoy for the human race. And right now you are probably thinking, “How could a book with such a good premise go wrong?” From a technical standpoint, the book isn’t bad nor is it good. Benford does a decent job of describing bigger technical things in easy to consume ways. The characters are bland but not the worst I’ve seen. They’re there to move the story along. Rachel is just a woman with something to prove, no matter how often we’re told she’s becoming a prodigy among librarians. The dialogue is clunky and expositional without revealing anything about the characters. Every detail is told. Even when Benford decides to show, it feels like he doesn’t trust the reader, and goes out of his way to highlight it by spelling it out again in dialogue. The story itself is meandering, and the more interesting beginning stories just feel like stepping stones to the larger, less potent narrative. In the first story in the book, Rachel takes on one of the most enigmatic of these machines, having spent her life up until this point preparing to interact with it. She gets it to open up fairly quickly, and without much effort on her part. The book follows this sort of rhythm as Rachel runs into a wall with successive machines, eventually finding a way to break through. That is until she is visited by a traveler from another race, something that has never happened before in human history. And from there on, the rest of the book becomes an ongoing quest for bigger and greater technological advances hidden under the veneer of “building relationships.” It’s a boring slog that treads the burial grounds of science fiction. Where the book really struggles for me is it’s sexual politics. Rachel makes headway with the first AI not through her own ingenuity and understanding, but because she is essentially raped by the machine. It sees it as a quid quo pro transaction that rewards her with status and humanity with astounding technology to stick around for a while longer. I had issues with this because it’s sort of just hand waved away without acknowledgment. It could have been a “at the mercy of Gods” moment, but it’s just a thing that happens. Rachel is also written like a golden age sci fi masculine hero, thinking often about the men she wants to have sex with, and occasionally has the sex, then walks away without emotional attachment. She even fantasizes about a sexual relationship with an alien species. Now this wouldn’t be bad if it truly felt liberating, intimate, or even a character flaw. Instead, it feels vindictive as if to say “see, women can be powerful and treat the world as a sex object too” vibe. That’s not even to get into the sexless Noughts, a third gender “created” to be logical and non-emotional rational beings to serve the library. There are a lot of issues with them, but the most fascinating one is their complete lack of understanding of or willingness to understand sex and gender relations. I’m not saying that they should per se, but Benford spends little to no effort on why they would or wouldn’t, it’s just a fact of their nature. They view her rape as a necessary stepping stone and that she should just get over it, so she does. There are plenty of other situations in which they look down on Rachel and struggles she faces due to her sex and gender, but I’m going to avoid them to say it’s all just a mess. The worst part about going through all of this book, is that none of this seems to serve a point. Benford seems fundamentally uninterested in the world he has created, forsaking my curiosity as the reader. The Shadows of Eternity doesn’t really end anywhere. It builds and builds to pivotal moments that are just another thing-a-ma-bob. Hell the book ends with Rachel looking back and being like “haters gonna hate,” and it’s just tiring. There is not a lot redeeming about this book other than the central premise of the library itself. I wish there was more of it, and it’s a shame that this is just a chronicle of ideas from the past, packaged to look like the future. Rating: The Shadows of Eternity 3.0/10 -Alex An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts on this book are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren loves llamas

    Content notes: (view spoiler)[Death (including suicide), rape, misgendering, fatmisia (hide spoiler)] It should be obvious by now that while I’m very much into science fiction, I’m more a space opera person than hard scifi. Gadgets and gizmos are cool, but I care mostly about the characters. Unfortunately, despite the blurb (a SETI library on the moon?!?) this book is the exact opposite of what I like. The Library on the Moon is a collection of alien AIs, referred to as Minds, and Messages, SETI c Content notes: (view spoiler)[Death (including suicide), rape, misgendering, fatmisia (hide spoiler)] It should be obvious by now that while I’m very much into science fiction, I’m more a space opera person than hard scifi. Gadgets and gizmos are cool, but I care mostly about the characters. Unfortunately, despite the blurb (a SETI library on the moon?!?) this book is the exact opposite of what I like. The Library on the Moon is a collection of alien AIs, referred to as Minds, and Messages, SETI communications. Ruth, newly arrived from Earth, wins a place training to become one of the Librarians responsible for interpreting those alien messages. Over the course of a series of loosely interconnected stories, Ruth explores the edges of alien intelligence – and the universe. Let’s just start out with my main issue. Ruth is utterly boring and suffers from the worst sort of man-writing-woman cringiness. I should’ve been prepared for this, as very early on she waxes nostalgic about reading Bradbury (ok) and Heinlein, which, oh boy, yeah, that certainly puts into perspective where this particular portrayal of women is coming from. She has a roommate/friend who is basically a caricature of drunk party girl, and a few reoccurring flings. Which, I mean, get it, girl, but maybe you shouldn’t bone the lawyer who’s there to basically pressgang you? There’s frequent references to putting off a serious relationship (and children) until her career is more established (in the future, periods can be slowed down to extend fertility). Perfectly reasonable, except it’s repeated, almost word for word, several times over the course of the book. And the one time she gets her period in the book, she acts irrationally and gets weirdly emotional. I have literally no idea what purpose that section served, except that perhaps it was meant as humor. If so, it failed for me. “The Library had shown that human speech, with its linear meanings and weakly linked concepts, was simple, utilitarian, and typical of younger minds along the evolutionary path. So Messages could be more like experiences than signals.” The worst was a section where Ruth is raped by one of the Minds. Communicating with the Minds involves full immersion in a pod so that they can be experienced. Verbal or written communication, apparently, is terribly inefficient and very backwards. The Mind initially floats the idea of having sex with her in return for some scientific information that will literally save Earth, which she quickly shuts down, but the next time they meet, it rapes her. Her bosses at the Library brush off it off, and the Mind itself gaslights her (“well, I wouldn’t have done it if part of you didn’t want it” basically). And that’s it. It happens, Ruth is obviously traumatized for a few pages, and then the story just moves on. And that’s not even going into the sexless Noughts, who prefer nonbinary pronouns and who Ruth and other characters repeatedly misgender as male. “Immersed in a Message, do less. In gliding slowness you may glimpse the seeds of eternity.” So what’s good about it? The whole structure of the library and its purpose – that some SETI messages are alien AIs, that humans can train themselves to communicate with them – was absolutely fascinating. There’s also some bits about wormholes and math concepts that seemed interesting but were, frankly, incomprehensible to me. There are occasional pops of humor (Ruth’s categorization of the various sorts of messages has stuck with me), though most of it fell flat. Overall, unless all you’re looking for are some cool scifi concepts and don’t care about all that pesky characterization, I don’t recommend this book. I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    *I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.* I loved the premise of this so much - a SETI library on the moon interpreting alien messages? It sounded so much like my jam. Unfortunately, I should have read some of the reviews before requesting because if I had, I would have given this a pass. Let's start with the positives. As I said, I loved the premise! The whole concept was imaginative and I loved the science behind everything. The author clearly knows his stuff and you *I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.* I loved the premise of this so much - a SETI library on the moon interpreting alien messages? It sounded so much like my jam. Unfortunately, I should have read some of the reviews before requesting because if I had, I would have given this a pass. Let's start with the positives. As I said, I loved the premise! The whole concept was imaginative and I loved the science behind everything. The author clearly knows his stuff and you can tell because this reads as very much "hard" sci-fi. In this library, the librarians use pods to interface with whole AIs built from alien messages and I loved the look into how translating across species might work. I also appreciated the short chapters because it made the book fly by despite all the technical language. On the other hand, aspects of the writing were really jarring to me. It probably took me 10% of the book to start to get a feel for the sentence structure and voice of the author and by then I had already cringed so many times at content in the book that I seriously considered DNFing it. For example, early on Rachel is in a pod interfacing with an alien AI who wants to have sex with her and she says no because she doesn't want to and tells her supervisor who essentially orders her to do it anyway, eventually leading to rape that is just shrugged off. Additionally she is consistently assaulted by another woman in her "friend group" (although to be honest characters come and go so quickly with no explanation that I can't be sure) and just ignores it, only for it to be later revealed that (view spoiler)[the woman is altering Rachel's memory trying to get information about her work (hide spoiler)] which comes out of nowhere and is never mentioned again. Rachel also thinks about her boobs and her period way more than any woman I've ever met, and something about her sexuality made me really uncomfortable. I'm all for sexual freedom, etc. but she was constantly on the lookout for a new hookup and it did not feel necessary. Some other things that bothered me: -The upper ranks of library workers are written to be sexless and genderless but they only use he/him pronouns? -How is a Trainee Librarian qualified to do all of this top secret/world saving work? -The overall plot felt really disjointed. What felt like the main plot (the Ythri) didn't show up until over a third of the way through the book and even then there was a series of little vignette adventures that didn't seem relevant. Even the end of (view spoiler)[learning the book has been Rachel writing her story as a book (hide spoiler)] didn't make it make sense. In fact it was kind of a let down. Overall I definitely think there is an audience for this book, but unfortunately it was not me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katja

    I have received a digital advance review copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is amazing!! I've never read any of books by Gregory Benford, but I did hear good things about his writing. And after reading this book I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be reading more of this works. When I read the description of this book I just couldn't wait to read it. And I surprised myself by finishing this book in one day. I just couldn't put it down. It had everything I love about I have received a digital advance review copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is amazing!! I've never read any of books by Gregory Benford, but I did hear good things about his writing. And after reading this book I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be reading more of this works. When I read the description of this book I just couldn't wait to read it. And I surprised myself by finishing this book in one day. I just couldn't put it down. It had everything I love about science fiction and the plot was amazing. Every chapter had new revelations that just made me want to keep reading to see what happens next. If you love space travel then you should definitely give this book a try.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sean Sullivan

    Semi hard SciFi, but a messy plot and emotionally flat storytelling made it a very brutal read. Then throw in Hawkman from the old Buck Rodgers TV show (I kid....kinda) and you've got yourself one hell of hot mess. Semi hard SciFi, but a messy plot and emotionally flat storytelling made it a very brutal read. Then throw in Hawkman from the old Buck Rodgers TV show (I kid....kinda) and you've got yourself one hell of hot mess.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joe Karpierz

    Gregory Benford has been writing science fiction forever. Well, at least for a very long time, anyway. His wikipedia bibliography shows that his first novel was published in 1970, and his first short story was published in 1966. His breakout novel, TIMESCAPE, was published in 1980 and won the Nebula, British SF, and Campbell Awards. Aside from TIMESCAPE, he may best be known for his Galactic Center Saga - one of my favorite series of all time. I have a certain fondness for FOUNDATION'S FEAR, his Gregory Benford has been writing science fiction forever. Well, at least for a very long time, anyway. His wikipedia bibliography shows that his first novel was published in 1970, and his first short story was published in 1966. His breakout novel, TIMESCAPE, was published in 1980 and won the Nebula, British SF, and Campbell Awards. Aside from TIMESCAPE, he may best be known for his Galactic Center Saga - one of my favorite series of all time. I have a certain fondness for FOUNDATION'S FEAR, his contribution as one of the Killer B's (Brin, Benford, and Bear) in the Second Foundation series. While I've read a smattering of his novels, I don't believe I've read any of his short fiction, although sitting on my to be read stack is "The Best of Gregory Benford", so I suspect that at some point I'll get around to reading his short fiction as well. His latest novel, SHADOWS OF ETERNITY, is touted as a "return to the sweeping galactic science fiction that readers have been waiting for". That is the tag line that caught my attention and drew my interest enough to want to read the novel. While I don't think that "sweeping galactic science fiction" is an accurate description, it does take the reader to places that are certainly not of this planet. The good news is that SETI has born fruit. We have received messages from aliens far beyond our solar system. Two centuries from now, there is a SETI library on the moon, where Librarians attempt to dissect and understand messages from those alien civilizations, but the most interesting ones are from alien artificial intelligences. Ruth, the protagonist that we follow throughout the book, is a Librarian in training, and she starts with the most difficult of projects, one which no experienced Librarian has been able to crack. She thinks highly of herself, and while those thoughts appear to be warranted, they end up being a bit unbelievable at times. It's difficult to describe the plot of the novel, as there are many different stories going on. They do occur in a serial fashion, and in general one does not seem to have anything to do with the next except the final story is set up by one of Ruth's successes early in the novel. The early events are not interesting in and of themselves, other than to set up Ruth's notoriety which leads to the final story that makes up a majority of the novel. The Ythri (an idea that originally came from Poul Anderson who is credited in the Afterword) are coming to our Solar System to talk to Ruth. They feel she has the key to help them find what they are looking for. The Ythri are secretive, of course, and don't really want to divulge the secret of their quest, although we find out early on in this story that they came via a wormhole and need to find the wormhole to be able to go home. Humanity has never found a wormhole, although the existence of them has always been postulated. In the course of the story, Fraq, the leader of the Ythri, takes Ruth on a series of challenges, including free fall from space to the surface of the Earth, to going deep under the surface of Mars, to wrangling a wormhole near the corona of the sun. But what is it all for? And that indeed is the question the reader is left with when reaching the completion of the novel. Yes, the novel has a lot of interesting ideas that Benford explores in great detail; it *is* a hard science fiction novel, after all. And ideas always form the basis of traditional core sf, which this is. However, the novel is disjointed. As I previously stated, there are multiple stories here. Characters are introduced early on and then left behind, either never to be mentioned again or brought up in an offhand way. And while each of the stories within the novel are interesting in and of themselves, other than the common point of having the SETI library involved, they are not interconnected at all. Indeed, the final sections of the novel state that Ruth is no longer with the SETI library, without much explanation of why the separation happened. In the end, it's not really clear what story Benford was trying to tell. I would be remiss if I didn't bring up what I believe to be something totally irrelevant to whatever story Benford is trying to tell, that of how sex is treated in the book, and in particular Ruth's sexual escapades. They really don't add anything to the novel at all, and at times are down right...icky. While I'm not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, I still can't see the non-consensual sex with an AI episode as anything but off putting. It didn't add anything to the ongoing story, and it certainly didn't add anything to Ruth's character. I really wanted to like this novel, and in fact there were portions that I found fascinating and interesting. But in the end, no number of interesting ideas - I really did like that sequence where the attempt was made to wrangle a wormhole excruciatingly close to the sun - were able to make this an inviting book. Benford is 80 now, and I hope that if he writes another novel that it will be better than this one. If he doesn't write another one, he's had a terrific career. Of that there is no doubt.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Derek

    Shadow of Eternity by by Gregory Benford The Past. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life. For example, the monitoring of electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets. The scientific investigation began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s. And focused international efforts have been going on since the 1980s. The Present. Humanity has establis Shadow of Eternity by by Gregory Benford The Past. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life. For example, the monitoring of electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets. The scientific investigation began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s. And focused international efforts have been going on since the 1980s. The Present. Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies that have been discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligence. A message from the Sagittarius Architecture, a specimen of the highest order of Sentient information, has baffled some of the greatest minds for millennia. Trainee Rachel Cohen thinks she has the skill and ability to reach into the very mind and soul of this anomaly if only the Library Prefect gives her the opportunity. But Rachel should be careful of what she wishes. Things are about to go out of control for Rachel because the alien mind might have its own agenda. And one that doesn't bode well for Rachel. The initial idea of having a Library on the Moon to store interstellar messages was a great idea. Considering how mankind (humankind) has been listening for radio signals from space since the 19th century, it seemed a brilliant concept to have them stored somewhere safe and away from Earth. And why not put it on the Moon. These messages would have to be deciphered and processed, and so you'd need scholars to do the job. The Library is where our main protagonist Rachel comes in. She is quite a character, strong-willed but not overly confident. She wants to blend in but is obviously intent on doing her job to the best of her abilities. There is a lot of Science, as you would expect, but it's not too heavy and doesn't take up too much of the narrative. The artificial intelligence that has been encoded into some of the messages is a nice twist, especially when they suggest that the original broadcasters are now probably extinct. We have aliens, of course, and the usual formulaic Sci-fi storyline, humans are good, and aliens are not so good. Shadows of Eternity is the first book that I’ve read by Gregory Benford. I found the book quite enthralling and riveting in places. Artificial Intelligence is something that is depressingly real, and who's to say that if there is life out there, somewhere, A.I. wouldn't be at the forefront of their technology. And I believe that's what gives this book an edge, the believability of some of the scenarios. Shadows of Eternity is a Science Fiction novel that's not overly complicated, and apart from a couple of bits, I found myself struggling not to class this as a Young-Adult book. The book is not excessively long for a Sci-Fi novel or drawn out. The author has written a classic piece of Science Fiction. Obviously Well researched and thought out. It wasn't too wordy, making you scramble for the dictionary, unlike some authors have a habit of doing, which is always a plus. It does get a little weird in places and a little bit sexist, but I hope that people reading the novel will realise it's fictional, not factual. Shadows of Eternity is definitely worth a read, and it has made me want to have a browse of Gregory Benford's previous work. I would like to thank Netgalley & Gallery/Saga Press for the ARC copy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shona

    Thank you to NetGalley and to Saga Press for this ARC. I’d never read anything by Benford before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Because of the length of the book, I had a look at spoilerish reviews about halfway through, and what reviewers said a lot was “hard sci-fi”, which this definitely was. But, bewildering. Because there are 6 stories in here, and you get a sense of time passing without an actual idea of where you are in time at each point (except, somewhere in the almost unimaginable fut Thank you to NetGalley and to Saga Press for this ARC. I’d never read anything by Benford before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Because of the length of the book, I had a look at spoilerish reviews about halfway through, and what reviewers said a lot was “hard sci-fi”, which this definitely was. But, bewildering. Because there are 6 stories in here, and you get a sense of time passing without an actual idea of where you are in time at each point (except, somewhere in the almost unimaginable future). Sexism: Oh, a strong hint about that future is that male and female relationship roles are apparently reversed (this I imagine by trying to get into the author’s mind, not because I myself believe in roles), with the main protagonist — a woman — using men for sex (and, memorably, forgetting one lovely man’s name after a lengthy interaction), and men all needy and wanting commitment. (!) Oh, but then there’s (also bewildering) a foray into this woman’s hormonal “stuff” — how she controls her period using medication, an episode of PMS, how she must think about when she wants kids but career first! and so on. (The F-F friendship that’s used as a frame for this is decidedly odd.) I found myself squinting and frowning a lot, trying to imagine what this author thinks women are like. But then, it’s sci-fi, right? Her male partners are also so bafflingly one-dimensional (except for the one whose name she forgets). So, sexism! A kind of clever reverse sexism, but sexism, nonetheless. Characters: And then, the characters! Incredibly unlikeable, most of them; and especially main one. The (spoiler) alien is at least interesting, and memorable — but, turns out, that one was inspired by Pohl, who created a whole world of them (Ythri), so, 😕 As mentioned above, the main protagonist’s POV is supposed to be a woman’s, but she feels badly characterised. Concepts: Very interesting concepts, if you can catch up. The author often introduces a new scene, concepts and characters with no background (spoiler, e.g. the Mat, which you have to pause your imagination for until you get an unclear description later in the chapter. But why Mat? Because it’s like a mat?). Lots of catch-up in this book, and sometimes you never really do. I don’t mind hard sci-fi, which is usually necessarily high-concept, so this alone didn’t put me off; but it may others. In summary: I read most books to the end to try and get into what the author was trying to do. With this one, though, I tweeted about my bafflement because I really couldn’t get my head around most of it. In retrospect, it’s possible that the author tried to do too much in one book. Also came away thinking either the author doesn’t like people, and/or tried too hard to create a strong female protagonist by making her into a horrible man (🙃🥲) It was interesting, though, for the concepts. For that reason: Rated: 6/10, but unless you’re into hard SF, may not appeal. Ps. I forgot to mention the treatment of non-gendered (?) people in this book, which is atrocious. (It??)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford is a highly recommended science fiction novel set two centuries in the future and spanning decades. "Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences... Ruth, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own." Important: read the post-script, which shares discuss Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford is a highly recommended science fiction novel set two centuries in the future and spanning decades. "Humanity has established a SETI library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages from alien societies we have discovered. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences... Ruth, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own." Important: read the post-script, which shares discussions between Benford and Poul Anderson, before the novel as it will provide background information for the actual plot. Also, keep in mind that the format is a collection of short stories rather than a continuous novel. What I wanted was a hard science fiction space opera following Ruth's work within the SETI library on the moon, discoveries, and subsequent travels, and Benford provided this. The actual format of Shadows of Eternity, however, was a bit of a surprise. It is really a series of short stories following Ruth's start as a Librarian, showcasing some of her subsequent work with alien messages, and then the main encounter that is still broken into shorter stories. The stories are all revolve around Ruth and the SETI library (until the last one), but, as with any novel that is told in this manner, characters are left behind and story lines are left without a resolution. This disjointed flow of the novel represented in the collection of stories, rather than an ongoing space saga, is part of what I really didn't want. Additionally, the character of Ruth was not all that appealing and I don't think Benford's writing in the voice of a female main character was entirely successful or believable here. There were several scenes and actions that were off-putting and really added nothing to the plot. The latter stories in the novel were more interesting, but as a whole this was an uneven novel. Benford has been a favorite novelist for years. While Shadows of Eternity showcased many of the reasons why, it needed some more editing or a firmer direction and separation of parts. 3.5 rounded up Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Gallery/Saga Press via NetGalley. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/1...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben Long

    With this book, Benford has written a very compelling first draft of a novel. I say “first draft“ because there are lots of ideas here – he certainly didn’t hold back any intriguing concept or notion that he had while writing this book – but they’re presented as a meandering, oddly paced chain of events rather than as an actual story. There’s very little structure here, and I could feel him searching for the story on every page. Things get really bad in the very last section we’re not only was I With this book, Benford has written a very compelling first draft of a novel. I say “first draft“ because there are lots of ideas here – he certainly didn’t hold back any intriguing concept or notion that he had while writing this book – but they’re presented as a meandering, oddly paced chain of events rather than as an actual story. There’s very little structure here, and I could feel him searching for the story on every page. Things get really bad in the very last section we’re not only was I not feeling the resolution of a story, I was feeling the protagonist having changed into a completely different person than she was before, In a way that I just could not buy. When a book needs tightening and structuring it’s easy to say “this book needs an editor.“ Of course a book from a major publisher like this had an editor, but I really have to ask where they were. Consider this sentence: “no guy was going to notice what shoes you were wearing, and if he did, he was the wrong guy.” That’s a funny gag. In fact, it’s so funny that Benford uses it twice, once on page 311 and again on page 406. There’s another gag that he duplicates this way. I can understand not remembering that you’ve already used a gag, but not catching that in a reread, and an editor not catching it at all? There’s really no excuse for that. This book so lacks any kind of narrative throughline that there is no way I could explain to you a sequence of events that occurred. I remember a number of interesting scenes and ideas, but I have no idea what order they come in. I expect you could easily chop 100 pages out of this book, rewrite the rest with some structure and order and end up with a very compelling, exciting book. Until someone does that, we’re left with this mishmash that probably isn’t worth the time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave C

    Interesting story of a SETI library on the moon; where all the recordings and data collected from around the universe are stored, categorized and analyzed by librarians. While we are still hoping for our first proof there is something out there, in this novel there are heaps of connections having been made although no first contact – yet! The library and its staff are brought to life. Their daily challenges, the way they live, the work they do and it’s implications for mankind are thoughtfully pr Interesting story of a SETI library on the moon; where all the recordings and data collected from around the universe are stored, categorized and analyzed by librarians. While we are still hoping for our first proof there is something out there, in this novel there are heaps of connections having been made although no first contact – yet! The library and its staff are brought to life. Their daily challenges, the way they live, the work they do and it’s implications for mankind are thoughtfully presented. For the women of the staff, it’s kind of like living in Alaska and a great old joke even makes an appearance “the odds are good but the goods are odd.“. I particularly enjoyed the way that galactic communications have been categorized; it made tremendous sense and I could see this becoming reality someday. The story begins with a brand new recruit passes her interview and becomes a trainee. We follow the next half century of her life as she attacks difficult problem after difficult problem with success and grows beyond the life of a librarian into a wormhole pilot. This small description does not do her justice as the author brings her to life and throws challenge after challenge in excruciating detail. Everything is science driven and-based and gives you lots to think about. I was following along through the arrival of the aliens, their visits to Earth and Mars and all of the revelations. At about the 80% mark, the book went off a few years into its future . After writing in such depth for so long, everything felt rushed and almost a different story seemed grafted on. That’s my only criticism of a most entertaining and enjoyable book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    I quit at 35%. I read some reviews to find out what I'm missing and found many who agreed with me. Benford's stories never appealed to me much, they were too grey (not dark, just not at all hopeful or exciting). But I did recognize that Benford was a good writer and since it's been years since I read anything by him - well, the brief description sounded very interesting. I also don't like Greg Bear's stories, but do like David Brin a lot. So you might not agree with my review. I'm 1/3 of the way t I quit at 35%. I read some reviews to find out what I'm missing and found many who agreed with me. Benford's stories never appealed to me much, they were too grey (not dark, just not at all hopeful or exciting). But I did recognize that Benford was a good writer and since it's been years since I read anything by him - well, the brief description sounded very interesting. I also don't like Greg Bear's stories, but do like David Brin a lot. So you might not agree with my review. I'm 1/3 of the way through and I don't like the main characters. Our protagonist, Rachel, seems very passive and somewhat confused and it's hard to believe she's in her 40s. You see, human lifespan is around 200, so I guess we're supposed to believe that maturity is also much slower. Her friend Kat is just a party girl. But worst of all is that these two women are characters created by an emeritus professor of astrophysics and I don't think he has much understanding of younger women. I do think he fantasizes about sex too much. Well, how about the story? To this point it reads like a few short stories with the same characters. What happens in these stories is muddled. We are to believe that alien minds transmitted by radio signals and then reconstructed in computers are (1) fully cognizant minds and (2) so alien in their world views that the author cannot adequately describe Rachel's encounters with them. And you know what? I can't adequately describe my utter lack of interest in this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carolyne

    The book’s concept seemed like it would be great but I couldn’t get passed the fact that I didn’t like the protagonist or her friends. It felt like her learning about these entities was glanced over and sacrificed for all the chapters about her and her friends going out and partying. I didn’t pick this book up to read about a 20 something and her friends trying to find themselves. And reading a man’s version of how a woman experiences orgasm was really eyeball rolling. Several other reviewers ex The book’s concept seemed like it would be great but I couldn’t get passed the fact that I didn’t like the protagonist or her friends. It felt like her learning about these entities was glanced over and sacrificed for all the chapters about her and her friends going out and partying. I didn’t pick this book up to read about a 20 something and her friends trying to find themselves. And reading a man’s version of how a woman experiences orgasm was really eyeball rolling. Several other reviewers expressed my own sentiments about the casualness of sexual assault in this book much better than I could and I agree with them. I would add that no one is saying books can’t discuss assault. I think we’re all saying, no one forgets about it when it happens and if a genuine friend saw their friend casually assaulting you, they’d step in and that person would not be in people’s lives. Also the protagonist wouldn’t just take it. They’d push the person off and say something. But apparently this person just goes around sexually assaulting everyone, so it’s okay. She’s just like that. Basically, when a reader starts thinking about how they wished a book would delve into or follow a different character etc…it’s time to realize that book isn’t for you. This review is in half a book because I am putting it down in the middle.

  20. 5 out of 5

    WorldconReader

    I would like to thank both Gregory Benford and Saga Press for graciously providing an electronic review copy of this book. In a word, "Shadows of Eternity" is fantastic! This is the kind of science fiction tale that I live to read. The story starts as the main character, Rachel Cohen is interviewing for a job on the Moon. Imagine receiving free transportation to the moon for a job interview! The story quickly accelerates from there as we learn about the SETI library (on the moon) and the exciting I would like to thank both Gregory Benford and Saga Press for graciously providing an electronic review copy of this book. In a word, "Shadows of Eternity" is fantastic! This is the kind of science fiction tale that I live to read. The story starts as the main character, Rachel Cohen is interviewing for a job on the Moon. Imagine receiving free transportation to the moon for a job interview! The story quickly accelerates from there as we learn about the SETI library (on the moon) and the exciting potential of decoding messages from alien civilizations. Every chapter brings new discoveries, risks, and challenges as Rachel finds herself doing some serious travel and job changes that take her beyond the moon and repeatedly into delightful territory for hard core scifi fans. Reading this book, I have realized that I need to read a lot more by Gregory Benford. I recommend this to anyone who likes hard core scifi with a focus on SETI, astrobiology, space travel, physics, as well as visiting and living on the moon and other places in the solar system, etc.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Very interesting, lots to think about, though I feel like the sex-with-aliens aspect was unnecessary and detracted somewhat. This story follows a librarian on the moon (what's not to love about that?) as she first encounters alien artificial intelligence programs, and then actual aliens. She solves some mysteries that have stymied all the other librarians, saves humankind, has some insights that nobody else has, and goes along with some very daredevil thrill-seeking. Oh, and some hotshot space p Very interesting, lots to think about, though I feel like the sex-with-aliens aspect was unnecessary and detracted somewhat. This story follows a librarian on the moon (what's not to love about that?) as she first encounters alien artificial intelligence programs, and then actual aliens. She solves some mysteries that have stymied all the other librarians, saves humankind, has some insights that nobody else has, and goes along with some very daredevil thrill-seeking. Oh, and some hotshot space piloting. There is lots of science here, some supposition about wormholes, a look at what a colony on the moon and Mars might look like, and a somewhat plausible first contact scenario. Also some interesting side tidbits, like how Ashkenazi Jews have a higher IQ on average than the general population? Hadn't come across that one. The relationships are all a bit flat, but the story covers several decades and you do get to see personal growth in the main character. She also eats a lot of bugs.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Overall, I really enjoyed Shadows of Eternity. This is probably the only time I will ever say this but, this book would have greatly benefited from being turned into a series.. The story is told over decades and beyond. I loved the concepts, SETI library on the moon, first contact, wormholes, this book has them all and then some. Ruth, the main character is a librarian trainee. She is there to study the messages gathered over the years by SETI. Most of these messages are in the form of an AI tha Overall, I really enjoyed Shadows of Eternity. This is probably the only time I will ever say this but, this book would have greatly benefited from being turned into a series.. The story is told over decades and beyond. I loved the concepts, SETI library on the moon, first contact, wormholes, this book has them all and then some. Ruth, the main character is a librarian trainee. She is there to study the messages gathered over the years by SETI. Most of these messages are in the form of an AI that interacts with the librarian. The librarian uses a pod that enables them to take in the experiences with all their senses. My only real complaint is that the author should really talk to some actual women. The sex and sexuality was was just bad. The Noughts are always referred to as he/him and the main character is weirdly obsessed with her periods. Trust me, no woman thinks of her periods that much. For me, this ruined the flow of the book, no pun intended, I will be looking for more from this author, despite these issues because the concepts were truly wonderful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Henry Lazarus

    Gregory Benford has a potentially award winning tale of first contact a few centuries from now. Rachael Cohen becomes a trainee at the SETI library on the Moon. Signals from other civilizations were very plentiful, some of them AI beings that could be downloaded into computers and interrogated. Rachael proves very good at communicating with these Shadows of Eternity (hard from Gallery Books, Gallery / Saga Press), finding a way to save the solar system from heavy radiation from an ancient supern Gregory Benford has a potentially award winning tale of first contact a few centuries from now. Rachael Cohen becomes a trainee at the SETI library on the Moon. Signals from other civilizations were very plentiful, some of them AI beings that could be downloaded into computers and interrogated. Rachael proves very good at communicating with these Shadows of Eternity (hard from Gallery Books, Gallery / Saga Press), finding a way to save the solar system from heavy radiation from an ancient supernova. That brings a small ship of a flying species, the Ythri, through a worm hole that the Ythrians somehow have managed to lose. Their leader Fraq, quickly involves Rachael in a series of escapades out of her comfort level, including diving from orbit to Earth, and communicating with the Marsmat, intelligent vegetation deep in cavern under Mars. This is a wow of a tale that gets more exciting with each page. Highly recommended.Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press

  24. 5 out of 5

    Goran

    3.5 This sure feels like hard SF! My first Benford. Want to thank Netgalley & Gallery Books for the ARC. There's a lot of really cool ideas in this. I liked the concept of a world where extra-terrestial messages are so common that there's an entire library with the sole purpose of studying and exploring those messages. It's a neat idea explored competently here with some bonus AI stuff. The concept of first contact is explored in this, in multiple ways. Different kinds of alien life and the way they 3.5 This sure feels like hard SF! My first Benford. Want to thank Netgalley & Gallery Books for the ARC. There's a lot of really cool ideas in this. I liked the concept of a world where extra-terrestial messages are so common that there's an entire library with the sole purpose of studying and exploring those messages. It's a neat idea explored competently here with some bonus AI stuff. The concept of first contact is explored in this, in multiple ways. Different kinds of alien life and the way they may differ from humans on Earth. More than that, it also explores the Great Filter and the survival of species over vast amounts of time. It has the usual caveats of hard SF, I suppose... Don't expect too much from the characters or some aspects of the story, but if you just want some solid hard SF adventure, you'll most likely get that!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Received as an ARC copy from NetGalley, this is an honest review. This is one of those books that does a lot of right with an adventure that's was for myself a wild ride; the hard and realistic science was well written that anyone can understand the complex concepts as its plot. The sexism that was written felt that it wasn't really needed because it felt it was more to have the women of this future-set story the right to treat men in the rude fashion that women have always faced. But the whole Received as an ARC copy from NetGalley, this is an honest review. This is one of those books that does a lot of right with an adventure that's was for myself a wild ride; the hard and realistic science was well written that anyone can understand the complex concepts as its plot. The sexism that was written felt that it wasn't really needed because it felt it was more to have the women of this future-set story the right to treat men in the rude fashion that women have always faced. But the whole sex that Rachel was forced to endure with Al for information was seriously wrong, bordering on it being like some sort of alien erotic trash that undercuts the intelligence of the story. The author should have done something that never involves women having to be pimped out like a sex toy. Regardless of those issues it is still a good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Just not quite what it could be Benford is a great author with an illustrious history. However, and I hate to say it, Mr benford is showing his age. the prose is solid but sometimes not original. At one point, for example, benford says "the odds were good but the goods were odd" as an observation. That's a quote authored supposedly at Carnegie Mellon by some frustrated female undergrads and has been around forever. The idea of a seti message library is cool as heck. But I am afraid that's it, and Just not quite what it could be Benford is a great author with an illustrious history. However, and I hate to say it, Mr benford is showing his age. the prose is solid but sometimes not original. At one point, for example, benford says "the odds were good but the goods were odd" as an observation. That's a quote authored supposedly at Carnegie Mellon by some frustrated female undergrads and has been around forever. The idea of a seti message library is cool as heck. But I am afraid that's it, and the (spoiler alert!) whole premise that a real alien shows up is interesting but on three end, unconvincing. Finally, the book shark-jumped in the final pages when we get into some bird on girl sex. Please. Maybe it's time to stop swriting, Gregory.

  27. 4 out of 5

    TimetoFangirl

    I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Pro: - The sci-fi aspect of this story, humans in space and contact with aliens, was all well done. This author is practiced within the genre so no real surprise there. Con: - The writing and characters in this just felt...a little forced I guess. For example, its really early on but there's a moment where our MC, Rachel, sees a once event and it reminds her of her period. Ummmm, what? I've been a chick for 31 years now and this has never once hap I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Pro: - The sci-fi aspect of this story, humans in space and contact with aliens, was all well done. This author is practiced within the genre so no real surprise there. Con: - The writing and characters in this just felt...a little forced I guess. For example, its really early on but there's a moment where our MC, Rachel, sees a once event and it reminds her of her period. Ummmm, what? I've been a chick for 31 years now and this has never once happened to me. - Sexuality and sexism are also represented oddly in this one. I don't know that it's "toxic" or whatever, but it just felt odd.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Blackburn

    I'll confess, I haven't read much Greg Benford in years, but I had fond memories of older books I'd read, so why not! Starts off interestingly but reads like a Y/A book at first, trying so hard to establish the seriousness of the main character over her peers. After that some interest still prevails again hampered by stodgy plot points. I tried to like the story by just didn't find it as enjoyable as it promised to be. Other people will no doubt enjoy it I'll confess, I haven't read much Greg Benford in years, but I had fond memories of older books I'd read, so why not! Starts off interestingly but reads like a Y/A book at first, trying so hard to establish the seriousness of the main character over her peers. After that some interest still prevails again hampered by stodgy plot points. I tried to like the story by just didn't find it as enjoyable as it promised to be. Other people will no doubt enjoy it

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christina S.C.

    The story starts out great, it has a good plot, strong main character and I was really enjoying reading it. However, I feel the book could have been written differently. Like I said earlier, the story was great but then it falls a little. I did enjoy the book but again I think it could've been written a little different. Thank you NetGalley for sending me this ARC. The story starts out great, it has a good plot, strong main character and I was really enjoying reading it. However, I feel the book could have been written differently. Like I said earlier, the story was great but then it falls a little. I did enjoy the book but again I think it could've been written a little different. Thank you NetGalley for sending me this ARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    As much as I enjoyed the story and the subplots I didn't like this book. The world building is excellent, the plot flows but the sexism was a bit too much Not my cup of tea. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine As much as I enjoyed the story and the subplots I didn't like this book. The world building is excellent, the plot flows but the sexism was a bit too much Not my cup of tea. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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