I couldn’t figure out where to even begin writing a plot synopsis for this dense monster of a book, so I checked Amazon and Goodreads to see if there was a recap I could start with. They were all three paragraphs long or more, and that would be my whole review! So apparently nobody knows how to summarize this mess. Let’s see.
A few ‘special’ misfits exist in our time, able to see all possible paths from all possible actions and skip to the best one. Unimaginable eons (or “Ians,” TM Rincewind) in the future, a few ‘special’ misfits have dreams of strange creatures in strange places, as their world is dying, being eaten by the Typhon and the Chaos. There are hunters in our time, trying to deliver the path-hopping misfits to some nebulous entity called the Chalk Princess, who may be in league with the Chaos. Can the misfits then and now line up their dreams and save the world and the future?
That’s leaving out a LOT. The future stuff is nearly incomprehensible, and the characters in those sections are not enough to make me care about wading through it all. Jack and Ginny, the path-jumpers in present-day Seattle, are a little more relatable, but not really. This book is DENSE, with history of the now, history of the future, and history of what happens in between, as humanity evolves beyond anything recognizable. It all sounds really cool, but the execution is just work. I’ve never read Greg Bear before, but it sounded like mix of Neal Stephenson and a smidge of China Mieville, but with not enough personality to make the denseness worth it.
“As for the late Trillennium, in the shadow of the Chaos: broad legends described the age of the Mass Wars. Bosonic Ashurs had returned from their mastery of the dark light-years, seeking ascendance over all…and were subdued by the mesonic Kanjurs, who in turn were defeated by the Devas—patterned from integral quarks. Devas were then forced to give way to the noötics. Noötic matter was hardly matter at all—more like a binding compact between space, fate, and two out of seven aspects of time.”