Bowl of Heaven - Larry Niven, Gregory Benford

Scenario: There's a strange megastructure artifact in space, and some curious folk want to take a look-see. The premise, quite a well-traveled science fiction road, recalls favorites such as the ring of Larry Niven's [b:Rendezvous With Rama|112537|Rendezvous With Rama (Rama, #1)|Arthur C. Clarke||1882772], the sphere in [a:Bob Shaw|130541|Bob Shaw|]'s [b:Orbitsville|403814|Orbitsville|Bob Shaw||937455], the pipes in [a:Alastair Reynolds|51204|Alastair Reynolds|]'s [b:Pushing Ice|89186|Pushing Ice|Alastair Reynolds||2622804], even the hole through the planet in Benford's own [b:Tides of Light|453967|Tides of Light (Galactic Center, #4)|Gregory Benford||3028987] [b:Furious Gulf|453964|Furious Gulf (Galactic Center, #5)|Gregory Benford||442562].

The basic elements are the discovery, the trip, the entry, the exploration, the encounter with strange beings and the escape. [b:Bowl of Heaven|13539166|Bowl of Heaven|Gregory Benford||19101530] goes through discovery-trip-entry fairly quickly in the opening chapters, and here, the hard sf backgrounds of the authors certainly come to the fore and provide impetus for the story. Of course, one has to like hard sf to be able to tolerate all the physics references, otherwise this segment could be a chore. Then, the exploration-encounter phase sets in and this is where, perhaps, the story bogs down a bit.

Things pick up again as the aliens decide to focus in on the human escapees, and a hot pursuit begins. However, just as soon as the action picks up than the book ends. This is probably a publishing quirk, splitting a book into two, increasing margins and whatnot, but quite annoying. I would still take a look at the continuation of the series just for some form of resolution.

Recommended for fans of the genre and of these authors in particular. The style may be too stiff for many readers, like listening to a training manual. That does say a lot about my personal likes though.