I read this book about 7-Sep-2003. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1990. This note was last modified Friday, 12-Sep-2003 16:30:55 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
First try on a new author for me. Enough people have said enough good things to get me to give him a try, anyway. Somehow he's never really gotten up above the horizon to where I can see him clearly. He does seem to have a Hugo and a Nebula—for one story I haven't read and don't remember hearing about.
I must say that so far I'm not terribly impressed. There's a big backdrop, and some interesting and quirky aliens, but I don't have the feeling anything has really been thought through. I'm also very suspicious about the Builder artifact that erases memories—in computers, and in humans and other sentient species. Returning the humans, at least, to baby-level minds. I don't like the metaphysics of this thing; it implies to uniform a universe, as if "memory" is a real thing that has universal implementations.
I'm also being bothered by the prolog showing us the discovery of the Cocoon, the first Builder artifact found, which grows up from and surrounds a planet, and gives easy ways to move cargo to and from the lagrange points and such. It's cool, but it isn't relevant, and more importantly the people aren't relevant (being dead some thousands of years currently). Or maybe the structure of this book will be twistier than I'm expecting.
Now that I've finished it, I'm still not impressed. The characters don't grab me, the large background is slightly interesting but not very believable, the local background is extreme but still not that interesting. And too many things either succeed or fail by seconds or equivalently tiny distances, energy quantities, etc.