CITY AT THE END OF TIME by Greg Bear
Tiadba struggled to find her next words. “Two names. Tell me what they mean. I’ll tell you one name, and you tell me the other.”
“Ginny,” she said.
Jebrassy backed off. Before he could stop himself, he said, “Jack.”
She looked at him, triumphant вЂ“ and scared. “Two funny, ugly names,” she said. “Not from the Tiers. We know each other, Jebrassy. We know each other from somewhere else. It’s as if we’ve known each other forever. I’ve never felt that with anyone else.” Her eyes crossed with the intensity of her emotion. Some wake or another, one of us will be in very bad trouble. I think I will be the one who needs you. And you will come for me.”
Review by Ann Wilkes (APR 29, 2010)
Throughout the first half of Greg Bear’s City at the End of Time, the reader checks in on half a dozen characters all have a part to play in either the saving or the resetting of the universe. Two of the characters, Jack Rohmer and Virginia Carol (Ginny), dream about the city at the end of time, the Kalpa, and for brief periods, their consciousnesses inhabit their counterparts there.
Jebrassy, the man Jack’s consciousness visits when he blacks out, lives in the Tiers of the Kalpa in Earth’s remotely distant future. Jebrassy was made of ancient, primordial matter by the Tall Ones. Some of Jebrassy’s kind are periodically sent on marches beyond the Tiers, beyond the flood channels and through the Zone of Lies to the Chaos beyond the reality generators that protect the Kalpa from the Typhon. The Typhon turns normal space/time into Chaos. Time and space do not cooperate in the Chaos. The understood universal laws do not apply there. For example, distances cannot be judged, time is variable and things are not always what they appear.
Jebrassy is vaguely aware of Jack because of a slight, residual overlapping after Jack’s consciousness leaves. Tiadba, the woman in the future who Ginny “visits,” meets Jebrassy. She knows that he, too, wanders in his mind and that in some other time and place, the woman who occasionally inhabits her knows Jebrassy’s visitor.
Jack and Ginny do meet. They learn more about what’s happening to them from a man who has sheltered Ginny in his library, really a warehouse full of books, for some time. Conan Bidewell is a collector of books that change. In the universe or rather multiverse, that Bear has created, history rewrites itself without anyone’s help. As the Chaos impinges and the end draws near at the End of Time, books begin to have gaps in them or gibberish. This is his barometer of the beginning of the end.
Jack and Ginny each possess a small, smooth stone with a red spot that allows their essence to see through Jebrassy’s and Tiadba’s eyes. Daniel Patrick Iremonk has two such stones, or “sum-runners.” Unlike Jack and Ginny, Daniel does not dream of a city at the end of time. He does, however, shift from one alternate reality to the next. Each time he jumps, he displaces the consciousness of the Daniel in that universe, in effect killing every version of himself he finds.
He jumps as soon as his luck changes in each universe. Finally, he lands in Jack and Ginny’s universe, a place where no version of him exists, causing him to jump into the body of a drunk living in that universe’s version of Daniel’s house.
The novel is hard to follow in the beginning with so many characters in that future Earth being introduced with scant explanation of what the Kalpa really is. But, by pressing on, things eventually become clear, although the concepts are very fantastic. I did have trouble wrapping my head around the speculative temporal mechanics and physics.
The characters themselves only understand a fraction of what’s happening to them. This makes their actions all the more courageous. City at the End of Time is most definitely a mind bender, but worth the effort. Bear gives complete and colorful descriptions of the Chaos, a terrible, yet beautiful place.
I adored the cats and the role they played in the end. Perhaps this novel answers the question of why so many writers own cats and why they are a fixture in so many independent book stores.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 53 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Del Rey; Reprint edition (August 25, 2009)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Greg Bear|
|EXTRAS:||Excerpt, of sortsAnn Wilke’s interview with Greg Bear|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Read our review of:|
- Hegira (1979)
- Psyclone (1979)
- Beyond Heaven’s River (1980)
- Strength of Stones (1982)
- Blood Music (1985) /
- Heads (1990)
- Moving Mars (1993)
- Dinosaur Summer (1998)
- Foundation and Chaos (1999)
- Darwin’s Radio (1999)
- Vitals (January 2002)
- Darwin’s Children (April 2003)
- Dead Lines (June 2004)
- City at the End of Time (October 2007)
- Hull Zero Three (November 2010)
The Forerunner Saga:
Infinity Concerto Series
- The Infinity Concerto (1984)
- The Serpent Mage (1986)
- Both novels were combined in: Songs of Earth and Power (1992)
Forge of God Series
Star Trek books:
Short Story Collections:
- The Wind from a Burning Woman *(1983)
- Early Harvest (1988)
- Tangents (1989) / В
- Bear’s Fantasies (1992)
- The Venging (1992)
- The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (September 2002)
- Sleepside: The Collected Fantasie of Greg Bear (October 2004)