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Legacy by Greg Bear


by Greg Bear

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Eon Series (Prequel), The Way (3)

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1,049711,753 (3.39)24



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Very solid, both in terms of the SF speculation, characterization and overall writing, but it was a slog for me to finish. I've not read the books it is a prequel to. Fans of Eon and Eternity may find resonances and foreshadowing that make the story more engaging. It's your basic "fish out of water" story, with an agent (loosely speaking) of an advanced human society, sent to a planet colonized half a century earlier (with some time distortions involved) by several thousand rebels. The story follows the main character as he slowly learns about the lifeforms on the planet, reminiscent of James White's continent-spanning creatures in Major Operation, and the political and social intricacies of the colonies. Until the very end he is primarily an observer. Many things happen, characters change, but none of it really meant much to me. It was all just events in a row. Definitely something I kept feeling like I should like more than I did. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Sep 2, 2015 |
This book is a prequel to the two previous novels, 'Eon' and 'Eternity', looking at the early career of the Hexamon politician Olmy, and it deals with him being sent on a mission to a world that a group of dissidents opened a gate to from the Way, the mathematical space/time construct that formed the setting for much of the other two novels. As a prequel, it might be thought that it could be read as a stand-alone novel or even read first; I would not recommend that. Although the plot generally does not need a lot of knowledge of the events of the first two novels, a knowledge of the background will explain much about the motivations and mind-sets of most of the characters.

As Ser Olmy explores the world of Lamarckia, he gets more heavily involved in the politics of the dissidents; because of the nature of the Way, although only five years have passed in the Hexamon since the dissidents left, on the other side of the gate forty years have passed. Indeed, the Hexamon has become something of a myth, with a particular sect of the dissidents having come to almost see the Hexamon as potential future angelic saviours.

The main feature of the world Lamarckia is its semi-sentient ecologies, formed of continent-spanning bioforms which employ a number of different subforms to communicate, scavenge and possibly reproduce. These bioforms play a key role in the action of the plot, as one faction of the dissidents claims to have found ways to bend the bioforms and their products to human needs.

There are numerous changes in direction in the story; once we have got away from the Hexamon and the Way, it might seem that we are plunged into a classic planetary romance (indeed, at one point I found myself wishing for a map!); then Olmy signs up on board a research ship, and we're heading off into Herman Melville territory; then finally he meets up with the leaders of the two political factions and suddenly we are in a journey such as experienced in 'Heart of Darkness' or 'Apocalypse Now'.

Of course, Bear was always going to have a problem with this story; how to bring Olmy's tale to a close, knowing that he survives to play his part in 'Eon' many years later? The assumption is that he will be rescued, and this is signalled some distance out from the end; yet those events are in some way secondary, and problematical because the one surviving clavicle, the device used to open gates to and from the Way, may well be lost. The answer relies on the knowledge and application of Hexamon technology in the end; and this is one point where reading this book as a standalone would not satisfy, as it's important to know the Hexamon's abilities in that direction to understand quite what has been going on there.

This book is important, though, for explaining a lot about Ser Olmy's motivations in the other books of the series, especially in 'Eternity'. It does prompt the question with me as to quite when Bear saw the idea for this book; the Ser Olmy of 'Eon' is not as well-drawn as his much younger self is here, and this is not just another example of Bear's novels getting more complex with time and experience. But I ultimately found this a satisfying and engaging experience.
  RobertDay | May 31, 2015 |
The plot is the exploration of the relationship between a small human society and a new life form. The author seems to have envisioned a new idea for a new life form and used the book as a device to explore it. That said, the book is enjoyable.

Olmy is sent by the Hexamon to spy on the humans on Lamarckia, a planet with a unique life form that was to be left alone. As soon as he arrives, the focus turns to an exploration of the life, itself.

There is almost nothing that is really explored. Although Olmy sets out on a travel, which did not seem to fit with his mission, almost everything we learn about the life is provided by other characters. As the story progresses, the reader encounters characters more and more knowledgable.

Another plot line involves the relation of two factions on the planet. We open with outright warring, and eventually learn the underlying history behind the war, and the people leading it. We also learn a little about the cultures involved in this war. Personally, I found this more interesting than the life exploration.

Besides Lamarkia, referring to the planet and the Lamarkian-style evolution that seems to predominate its life forms, the author has thrown in references to mythologies. Other than just names dropped, there isn't really a clue that there is a reference. I suspect I missed most of them, if there were more than a couple.

Early on, the book dragged. I really couldn't identify with any of the characters in the book, the main character seemed to make some very odd decisions. The book really picked up in the second half. If the first half were just a little better, I would rate the book much better. ( )
  Nodosaurus | Apr 14, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book. Its been a while since I read any of this series, so I really don't understand how this is a prequel, but it didn't matter. This was quite enjoyable as a stand-alone book. If you haven't read the other books in the series it really doesn't matter. The generation ship/asteroid Thistledown is on its way across space while at the same time it is the source of The Way - the wormhole/tunnel through space and time that lets the crew travel away from the asteroid. A few members of the crew/passengers break away and settle the Earth like world of Lamarkia. A agent is sent after them to see how they are doing and this is the plot of the entire novel. Fortunately or unfortunately, Lamarkia is already controlled by aware ecosystems that compete with each other and the new invaders, the humans. Exploring the world and determining the fate of the humans on it is the mission of the agent sent to them.
There's a few things that are a bit contrived - why is it so hard to get to Lamarkia from The Way? Why is just one person sent to investigate, without any of the super enhancements you'd expect from a far future sci-fi novel? (There's no internet on Lamarkia! The horror!). It ends up being more of a Lewis and Clarke type travel/adventure novel than it does sci-fi. The adventure is good and the characters interesting, I enjoyed it. ( )
  Karlstar | Feb 22, 2015 |
This book is a continuation of Eon, or more precisely, a prequel dealing with one of the main characters, Olmy.
It explores the history and effects of The Way further, and describes an adventure Olmy has on one of the worlds reachable by The Way.
Even though I liked Eon a lot better, I did love this book. The whole philosophy of The Way, and what all they can do is very interesting, as is Olmy's adventure in a world that is like our own, but yet completely different. A very nice book, also readable stand-alone. ( )
  divinenanny | Aug 3, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bear, GregAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggleton,BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gold, AnnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russo, CarolCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Bertha Merriman
A pioneer who lived in a tougher time
With love from a grandchild
First words

I stood on the lip of the souther bore hole, clutching a service line, and for the first time in my life, stared beyond the mass of Thistledown at the stars.
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Haiku summary
Olmy went to learn
The culture of the people
And the planet, too

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812524810, Mass Market Paperback)

The Way is a tunnel through space and time. The entrance is through the hollow asteroid Thistledown and the space station Axis City that sits at the asteroid's center. From there the Flawships ride the center of the Way, traveling to other worlds and times.

Now the rulers of Axis City have discovered that a huge group of colonists has secretly entered one of the interdicted worlds along the Way. In some ways Lamarkia is very Earth-like--but its biology is extraordinary. A single genetic entity can take many forms, and span a continent. There are only a few of these "ecos" on Lamarkia, and the effect of human interaction on them is unknown.

Olmy Ap Sennon has been sent to secretly assess the extent of the damage. But he will find far more than an intriguing alien biology--for on their new world the secret colonists have returned to the old ways of human history: war, famine, and ecological disaster. On this mission, Olmy will learn about the basics: love, responsibility, and even failure...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A new world has been discovered via a time tunnel. It is called Lamarckia and it is home to novel forms of life, among them hybrids of plants and animals. But access is restricted and the story concerns an agent investigating illegal immigration to this new world.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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