This was a free audiobook on Audible, a novella written in the same universe as six other novels in the author's Galactic Center Saga. I read at least 5 of the 6 books in that series and have one vivid recollection of reading Tides of Light on the beach in the fading light of early evening, trying to get in a few more pages before it got too dark to see the ink against the page.
This novella is written in the same philosophical, somewhat aloof style of the series novels, and with very similar vertigo-inducing time spans. The series as a whole is a rewarding read and I rated all of the books I read in it 4 stars.
But ... how much story can one tell in 300k plus words without repeating oneself? Or, how many times can one get invites to the soiree until wearing out one's welcome? For sure, Gregory Benford tries to have something new and interesting to say each time, and in this novella, it is the role-change between humans and mechs in the far-future, but the milieu is the same, the extrapolative bases are unchanged and the voice is from my past.
Plus ... it's just different listening to a book versus reading it, especially in fading beach light. It seems a bit fast, less conducive to rumination, a medium more in tune with today's lifestyles than it is with that of the 80s. Hearing this novella now so far removed from those years when I read the series, I find that the gosh-golly-wow element has gone elsewhere, along with fragments of my youth.
I'm sure others will find something of value here, but I am perhaps too jaded now to dig deeper. Am rating this 4 stars for old times sake, and the classy ending.