Bowl of Heaven
Gregory Benford, Larry Niven
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In Bowl of Heaven, the first collaboration by science fiction masters Larry Niven (Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (Timescape), the limits of wonder are redrawn once again as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowlshaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths…and it's on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.
A landing party is sent to investigate the Bowl, but when the explorers are separated―one group captured by the gigantic structure's alien inhabitants, the other pursued across its strange and dangerous landscape―the mystery of the Bowl's origins and purpose propel the human voyagers toward discoveries that will transform their understanding of their place in the universe.
Cliff saw a round blob high in the air. Dark, small, impossible to tell how far off even with zoom lenses. No discernible movement. He watched it for a while and wondered if it was some suspended artifact. Another mystery. Cliff drank some water and curled up under some low hanging limbs. He conspicuously pulled his hat over his face. This was an important test, he sensed, peeking at them. They looked at one another once more. Irma shrugged. They settled in. Cliff took the hat off and said,
looked like them before. Aybe shot it at a one-meter range, blowing a laser hole in its forehead. The big yellow eyes of the thing fluttered and it fell, kicking, rasping out a last breath. It looked like a reptilian dog, scaly and tough, with thick haunches and a powerful set of clamping jaws. They stared at it. “Good shot,” Terry said. Irma said brightly, “Let’s make a fire, roast up big chunks of meat.” Cliff worried about detection, but didn’t stop them from gathering wood. Their amino
little to do with his specialty, the evolution of higher life-forms on worlds similar to Earth. A largely abstract pursuit until the Alpha Centauri discoveries of a simple but strange ecology there. That was what drew him to Glory; Beth was an accidental benefit. So he shrugged. “Gas from a small star. Why wake me up?” “You are the highest-ranked Scientific,” Abduss said. Marya added, “And your specialty may be quite relevant.” That remark just perplexed him. He felt hungry and tired and
and they circled, making a quick-footed dance, shrieking in a melodious chant. Cliff backed away from the spectacle, shaken. He straightened up a bit and retreated, duck-walking backwards. Terry came alongside him and whispered, “My God.” “Yah. Yah.” Cliff could barely absorb what they had seen. The party came together, united in a single purpose—move fast, get away. Cliff remembered thinking that this place was a park, in a way. Certainly not for mere primates. TWENTY-NINE Redwing
and leaves, to cup the sunlight. Each layer is staggered to the side, so a single tree, seen from above, makes a broad emerald area, captures more sun.” “Faaaa-scinating.” Her dry tone made him turn and she kissed him hard and deep. Oh yeah, we came here to— She backed him onto the broad, slick-barked wood. He shucked his trousers down to his ankles, and she smiled when she saw he was ready. “There.” She settled on him. “That’s better, isn’t it?” “Lots better.” “Stay still.” He wheezed