I read this book about 15-Mar-2004. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2003. This note was last modified Saturday, 27-Mar-2004 11:55:26 PST.
This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.
I don't know how deep a pile of unsold manuscripts there is; this could well be one of the last of his works to be published (there's a collection, also from Tor, also in 2003, which almost sounds like a plan to round out his bibliography elegantly). He died in 2001. I should probably do some more systematic rereading to commemorate.
This one is a fixup of two stories for Isaac's Universe. Well, it's based around those two stories, but with nearly everything changed, he says in a forward. The idea of a "Forerunner" species isn't unique to that universe. On the other hand, some of the disconnectedness of the episodes does seem to have come through.
I liked several of the characters well enough, including the 900-year-old Earthman. Still, this had the feeling of emotional distance that I get from most of the very future settings; I noticed it most strikingly in the sections of A Fire Upon the Deep (#2) set on Relay. It's a tremendously cool feeling; both senses.