Bowl of Heaven – Larry Niven and Gregory Benford

Warning: this book is a booby trap!

I should have read the Amazon reviews first. This one would have helped me:

Well two main thoughts cross my mind. Firstly Niven has now found how to actually move a Ringworld interstellar distances. Secondly it is infuriating to discover, only on the very last page of the book, that this isn’t a self-contained novel after all. Nowhere in any of the book’s publicity or cover was this indicated and I am sure that this will tick off a number of readers.

Count me as one of this ticked off readers…

Now, if the book had been halfway decent, then maybe I would not be so disappointed. But instead of rushing to grab the second book, that’s the end for me. Cardboard, uninteresting characters – and that includes the aliens – are not rescued by an interesting Ringworld variation. Partly it’s the writing which I found to be pedestrian. Sense of wonder? Nope. Sense of tension? Nope. And the plot? More pedestrian than a senior citizen with a walker. Partly, it’s that the whole book does not do anything to engage the reader. It’s as if a science editor collected some cool ideas, made some interesting projections, and wrote them down in fits and starts, interspersed with dialogue, and called it a novel. The only novel thing about it, is that it is novel to find such a dreadful book.

Avoid at all costs. Unless you are having trouble sleeping.