City At The End Of Time

By Greg Bear

Rating: 3 stars

In an unimaginably distant future the threads of reality are finally starting to fall apart into a Chaos where the laws of physics break down. But this isn’t the natural end of Everything, but a potentiality known as the Typhon that is preying on the old Universe in its attempt to create a new one. Life is eventually beaten back to The Kalpa, the last city in existence, which fights back against the Typhon with reality generators to keep the Chaos at bay. Meanwhile, in present day Seattle three young people, fate-shifters with the ability to move between realities following the best fate lines for themselves, are drawn together, all dreaming of a city at the end of time.

This is a very dense book with lots of characters and even more ideas. The main characters in the present day felt a bit like ciphers to me, getting neither much character development nor much insight into their powers and how they’ve used them in the past (apart from ‘bad shepherd’ Daniel who doesn’t dream of a city, but merely a blank emptiness). By contrast, the villainous Glaucous and the enigmatic Mr Bidewell are much more interesting and feel like they’re fleshed out more, even though they’re just supporting characters.

The structure of the book is odd too, with threads coming together into what feels like a climax about half way through the book, before continuing without that much tension or pace for another 250 pages. The conclusion in particular left me feeling a little “what, was that it?” with many questions either being left unanswered or answered in such an oblique way that they might as well not have bothered.

If I’m sounding somewhat negative here, I don’t intend to be, I did enjoy the book as a whole, but I am frustrated by it as well and think that Bear could have done better.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575081895
Year of publication: 2008

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