Taking place in the Xeelee universe (in fact effectively the last book in that universe), Ring was very readable on its own. It follows a group of humans in the Great Northern who are sent with a wormhole interface on a thousand year journey, with the relativistic effects meaning they will end up five million years into the future of humanity, with the interface being a time-tunnel back. Over the millions of years the sun fizzles and dies, billions of years before it should, along with all the other stars in the galaxy (and indeed universe).
Living through these years is Lieserl, a woman who's mind was transferred into acomputer and was sent on a mission inside the sun, she finds the premature ageing isbeing caused by 'photino birds', animals of dark matter. The first parts of the bookfollow Lieserl and the journey of the Great Northern in a loop back to Sol, the restsees them combined in another journey to the greatest Xeelee artifact of all time - aring of cosmic string light years across, with a stretched singularity in the middle thatcan lead to other universes - escape from the dying universe.
The book is packed full of ideas, and lots of information about the formationand internal geography of stars. It manages to be informative without being tootextbook, and does remind the reader of particular points when they becomeimportant again, which is very helpful when it's been a while since somethinghighly scientific has been explained.
Review by Paul Silver, 2004
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