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The Siege of Eternity
Frederik Pohl
Tor Books, 313 pages

The Siege of Eternity
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl was born in 1919 in New York City. His first novel was The Space Merchants (with C.M. Kornbluth) serialized in Galaxy magazine (1952) and his first solo novel was Drunkard's Walk, a Galaxy serial in 1960. He has won Hugo Awards as an editor (1966, 1967 and 1968), short story writer for "The Meeting" (with C.M. Kornbluth) in 1973 and in 1986 for "Fermi and Frost", novelist for Gateway in 1978. He won Nebula Awards for Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway in 1977. As well he has served as President of SFWA during 1974-76 and World SF for 1980-82.

ISFDB Bibliography
Gateway (Frederik Pohl's) - Game Download
Man Plus Review
Notes on Frederik Pohl

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

The future, according to veteran SF author Frederik Pohl is extremely bleak. He demonstrates this from the first page of his novel, The Siege of Eternity, by including interruptions to the main plot which point out the violence and fear which pervade American culture. Into this society comes a message from an alien race. Pohl deals with the immediate aftermath of this contact in the first book of the series, The Other End of Time.

Opening with the arrest of Dan Dannerman, the hero from the first book, Pohl sets the reader up for a fairly typical space opera which, in many ways, calls back to an earlier time in the history of science fiction. Pohl initially does a good job of filling in the backstory without being to obviously repetitive from the first novel.

Unfortunately, the first third of the novel continues to tell the reader what has happened without showing them anything. There is very little action as Dannerman and his cousin, Pat Adcock, are questioned by the National Bureau of Investigation and later do their own questioning of others. Instead of writing about the action, Pohl is describing events which have all occurred off-stage.

Another one of the big problems with the novel is Pohl's use of parenthetical asides to fill in the details of his world. Instead of using these blurbs to break up chapters or sub-chapters, they are inserted, almost stream-of-consciousness between paragraphs, often giving a disjointed feel to the flow of the novel.

While an argument could be made that The Siege of Eternity is a novel of ideas, or at least a novel of idea, Pohl does not introduce any of his philosophy into the novel until relatively near the end. A cerebral novel should begin giving the reader something to think about within the first ten pages. The Siege of Eternity doesn't even work as a first contact novel since the powers-that-be are not particularly interested in the aliens who eventually appear on Earth.

This year (1997) marks the sixtieth anniversary of Frederik Pohl's first sale ("Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna", Amazing Stories, 10/37, using the pen name Elton Andrews). Over the years, he has written an incredible amount of science fiction, much of it fantastic. The Siege of Eternity does not belong among Pohl's best work. Readers, particularly those not very familiar with Pohl's writing, would be better served by picking up a copy of Gateway, Man Plus, or his more recent Mining the Oort.

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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