Beyond the Fall of Night

Clarke, Arthur C. and Gregory Benford. Beyond the Fall of Night. New York: Ace/Putnam, 1990. Right off the bat I felt a little cheated. I bought this novel thinking that it was an Arthur C. Clarke book. Beyond is endorsed, presented and inspired by Clarke, but it was written by Benford. Despite the bait and switch, it's not a bad read. Beyond follows the adventure of Alvin, a near immortal human at the end of time who discovers the secret of why the human race has become stuck in a rut. Like much of science fiction, Beyond is so far removed from my experience that it's difficult to relate to, or believe. The story takes place billions of years in the future and spans another billion years. While I personally find such scale difficult to fathom, it allows Benford the luxury of telling a story about evolution itself. Here, the humans and post humans do more than just terraform planets and create new species, they rearrange planetary alignments and create electromagnetic gods. Although there is little to get emotionally worked up about in the characters, my interest in evolution made this story especially intriguing. And so while the the dramatic aspect is a little lacking, the novel does satisfy that other aspect of sci-fi which is to examine the hard science, to ask "what if," and to imagine the possibilities.