Short works

Books : reviews

Gregory Benford.
In Alien Flesh.
Gollancz. 1986


Blood on Glass. 1986
In Alien Flesh. 1986
Time Shards. 1986
Redeemer. 1986
Snatching the Bot. 1986
Relativistic Effects. 1986
Nooncoming. 1986
To the Storming Gulf. 1986
White Creatures. 1986
Me/Days. 1986
Of Space/Time and the River. 1986
Exposures. 1986
Time's Rub. 1986
Doing Lennon. 1975

Gregory Benford.
NEL. 1993

Gregory Benford.
Matter's End.
Bantam. 1994


Time Guide. 1979
Slices. 1981
Freezeframe. 1994
Mozart on Morphine. 1994
Centigrade 233. 1994
Sleepstory. 1994
Calibrations and Exercises. 1979
Leviathan. 1994
Shakers of the Earth. 1994
Proselytes. 1994
Touches. 1994
Nobody Lives on Burton Street. 1970
Dark Sanctuary. 1979
Side Effect. 1994
Knowing Her. 1977
Stand-In. 1965
We Could Do Worse. 1994
Immortal Night. 1994
The Bigger One. 1994
Cadenza. 1981
Matter's End. 1994

Gregory Benford, ed.
Far Futures.
Tor. 1995

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 23 July 2000

At a time when much contemporary SF seems to be about tomorrow, Greg Benford has put together a superb collection of five original novellas about the Far Future, when the Earth, or even the Universe itself, is vastly older, maybe even at the end of its life. Every one brilliantly evokes the scope of immense age and size, whilst still telling a good human story.


Greg Bear. Judgment Engine. 1995
The very last energy of the Universe is being carefully harnessed by the Libraries for the Endtime Work, when suddenly someone questions The Proof.
Poul Anderson. Genesis. 1995
The galactic brains decide they should save the earth from destruction, for sentimental reasons. Only Gaia, the brain currently studying the earth, disagrees. And it seems she is not being entirely truthful about her reasons.
[Later expanded into the novel Genesis]
Donald Kingsbury. Historical Crisis. 1995
A rogue psychohistorian is punished for publishing his theories. His punishment means he now can't remember what they were. But other people seem to think they were important. (This story, the only one set in an ongoing future, rather than at an ending, beautifully conveys the weight of thousands of years of history.)
[Later expanded into the novel Psychohistorical Crisis.]
Joe Haldeman. For White Hill. 1995
Artists from the various human planets are gathered on an Earth devastated by war, in a competition to celebrate its resurrection. But the war isn't over.
Charles Sheffield. At the Eschaton. 1995
[This novella was expanded into the novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow, which has the same setup and climax, with more intermediate detail.]

Gregory Benford.
Orbit. 1998

Gregory Benford.
Deep Time: how humanity communicates across millennia.
Avon. 1999

Gregory Benford.
Orbit. 2000

Gregory Benford.
Worlds Vast and Various.
Eos. 2000

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 9 August 2008

A collection of Benford novellas and short stories from the 1980s and 90s. Some of these depict well the sheer incomprehensible alienness of the aliens, from the nomadic Chupchups in "World Vast, World Various", to the electrical hexagons in "A Dance to Strange Musics". Generally good stuff, but nothing leaps out as extra special.


A Desperate Calculus. == A Calculus of Desperation. 1995
(writing as Sterling Blake) Two scientists trying to understand new epidemics watch the planet dying from pollution and overpopulation.
High Abyss. 1995
Battles and heresies in a world with a strange non-isotropic geometry.
World Vast, World Various. 1989
The Japanese science team try to make first contact with the nomadic Chupchups, apparent remnants of a dying civilisation. But the Chupcups are hard to contact.
As Big as the Ritz. 1986
Clayton Donner gets invited to visit the strange experimental world of the Brotherhood, but they don't realise that he is an astrophysicist, able to understand how the world works.
Doing Alien. 1994
How far would you go to pick up an alien?
In the Dark Backward. 1994
An historian time travels to reassure dead artists that they will be revered. How reassuring is such a visit? [The last paragraph rather unnecessarily explains what has just happened, even though it is obvious.]
The Voice. 1997
Problems in a post-literate world.
Kollapse. 1997
When civilisation falls, only the well-prepared will survive.
The Scarred Man. 1970
[Possibly the first recorded computer virus?]
Zoomers. 1995
Future trading
A Worm in the Well. 1995
Mining wormholes, for profit, if not fun.
A Dance to Strange Musics. 1998
First contact at Alpha Centauri is stranger than we can imagine

Gregory Benford.
Beyond Infinity.
Orbit. 2004

Gregory Benford.
The Berlin Project.
Saga Press. 2017

What if the United States developed the atomic bomb a year earlier, in 1944?

Karl P. Cohen, a chemist and mathematician who is a junior partner of the Manhattan Project, has discovered an alternate solution for creating the first atomic bomb, but his plan is shot down as other more august personages—household names even then—preferred another method. But time has shown us that this chemist was right.

Combining espionage with fascinating science, New York Times bestselling author Gregory Benford has written an astounding thriller that reimagines history.

What would have happened if the atom bomb was ready in time to be used as the Allies invaded on D-day?

Gregory Benford.
Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape.
Saga Press. 2018

Gregory Benford returns to time travel in this thematic companion to his award-winning bestseller Timescape

It’s 2008, and Charlie, in his late forties, is a bit of a sad-sack professor of history going through an unpleasant divorce. While flipping the cassette of an audiobook he gets into a car accident with a truck end wakes up, fully aware as his adult mind, in his sixteen-year-old body in 1968.

Charlie does the thing we all imagine: he takes what he remembers of the future and uses it for himself in his present, the past. He becomes a screenwriter and producer, anticipating the careers of Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg.

Charlie realizes that there are others like him, like Albert Einstein, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein. In fact, there is a society of folks who loop through time to change the world for their agenda. Now, Charlie knows he has to do something other than be self-indulgent, and he tries to change one of the events of 1968 in this clever thriller.

Gregory Benford.
Shadows of Eternity.
Saga Press. 2021

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 28 November 2023

Two centuries from now humanity has established a SETI Library on the moon to decipher and interpret the many messages originating from alien societies. The most intriguing messages are from complete artificial intelligences.

Rachel, a beginner Librarian, must talk to alien minds—who have aggressive agendas of their own. These conversations will open doors into strangeness beyond imagination—and catapult Rachel into life threatening danger in her quest for understanding.

Rachel Cohen wins a coveted assignment as a Librarian on the moon, where she will work on deciphering alien messages encoded in various alien AIs. She manages where others have not, and ends up far beyond her original goals.

This is a bit of a mess. There are lots of potentially fascinating ideas here, but it’s very episodic, and those episodes don’t really gel together. It feels like they are there to give a tour of the ideas and various exotic places. The consequences of Rachel’s discoveries don’t seem to form any coherent plot; they are just one thing after another. It also feels poorly edited, with some repetition, and inconsistencies between episodes.

And there is several specific aspects that really bugged me. For example, early on there is what is essentially a rape-by-AI scene, but, no consequences. Another example, more technical. There is some sort of anomaly moving towards the solar system, threatening the Earth. It has got as far as the orbit of Jupiter, causing problems there. One of Rachel’s discoveries allows a solution, which is implemented at Jupiter, stopping the anomaly’s progress and protecting the inner solar system. Maybe I missed something, but I don’t see how this works when Jupiter has orbited to the other side of the solar system, and is no longer between Earth and the source of the anomaly.

There are other examples, but I’ll stop there. Disappointing.

Arthur C. Clarke, Gregory Benford.
Beyond the Fall of Night.
ACE. 1990

expansion of "Against the Fall of Night"

Gregory Benford, John M. Ford, Nancy Springer, eds.
Under the Wheel.
Baen. 1987


Gregory Benford. As Big as the Ritz. 1986
Clayton Donner gets invited to visit the strange experimental world of the Brotherhood, but they don't realise that he is an astrophysicist, able to understand how the world works.
John M. Ford. Fugue State. 1987
Nancy Springer. Chance. 1987

Gregory Benford, Larry Niven.
Bowl of Heaven.
Tor. 2012

A human starship crew overtakes an immense bowl-shaped structure hurtling through interstellar space. Cupping a star to itself, the bowl moves by using the star’s jet to propel itself toward the same target star as the humans.

A landing party reaches the vast lands of this spinning world, only to be captured. But some escape the gigantic inhabitants to seek answers to what this place means. Who built it? Where? When? Why?

Their discoveries transform human understanding of our universe and imperil our destiny.

Gregory Benford, Larry Niven.
Tor. 2015

When the crew of the SunSeeker investigates a gigantic, bowl-shaped object with a sun at its center, their landing party is split into two groups. One is captured, while the other is pursued across a deadly landscape. Both seek to unravel the mysteries of the gargantuan artefact known as the SHIPSTAR

To survive they must escape the alien inhabitants known as the Folk. What they discover along the way will transform the way mankind understands its place in the universe.

Gregory Benford, Larry Niven.
Tor. 2020

In Glorious, audacious astronauts are tasked with exploring a brave, new, highly dangerous world, where they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts. All the while, they must contend with bizarre, sometimes deadly life-forms and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths.

Gregory Benford.
The Martian Race.
Orbit. 1999

Gregory Benford.
The Sunborn.
Orbit. 2005

Gregory Benford.
Foundation's Fear.
Orbit. 1997