Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford is a Sci-Fi book that puts a twist on the Dyson Sphere theory. The twist being that instead of a sphere surrounding a star, there is a half-sphere shaped as a bowl. The interesting part of this bowl is that instead of being a permanent structure around a star, the star was modified into a form of propulsion.
This book is the first in a series by Gregory and I think it’s a well thought out plot, if a bit lengthy of a book. There is a lot of detail provided but I don’t feel it hinders the read at all. This is more of a slow story with action packed sequences scattered throughout the pages. There is a bit of mystery in the plot as the team is trapped on an alien world with little contact to the outside, forcing them to fall back on their training to survive.
The character development is not as great as some books I have read, but their quirks and traits are slowly revealed over the course of the 515 page novel. The characters are set into a cryostasis for a few century journey to a distant star hoping to colonize and form a new Earth. During the trip they encounter this strange bowl, and due to circumstances beyond their control, their best option is to land and seek resources.
The timeline is easy enough to follow, no gaps in the sequences or scenes that would confuse the reader. There are a few unanswered plot lines at the end of the first book, but not in the sense of a cliffhanger ending.
The writing has an intellectual feel to it, basically due to the details given on the alien world, inhabitants and local geology. I would say it is one of the more traditional science fiction book styles using an original concept based on an old theory.
With that all being said, I did enjoy the book and look forward to the release of Shipstar, the next volume of the series.