I finished reading Greg Bear's Strength of Stones. So far, I've read three of his early novels, and while they seemed either a tad incomplete or rushed with their endings, or not exactly as straightforward as they could have been, I still found them compelling. You could consider these early works to be a trilogy, since they all deal with similar, overarching themes, i.e. the search for knowledge and truth, and psychological emancipation. Strength of Stones has been the most overtly ambitious of these early novels. It's the one I liked most, but also the one where certain aspects of the the dénouement left me slightly puzzled. Bear brings the various plot threads to a proper close, but I'm not sure if I really grokked what he was aiming for at the very end. I mean, I kinda know, and am also still kinda confused. Will have to think on it a little longer. It was still a powerful little novel on man's expulsion from paradise - ironically, self-perpetuated through the misapplication of their own belief systems - and the desire to reclaim that state of being, the resentment and anger that stems from being denied, and the arrogance that comes from believing that it's even possible. Essentially, the core theme the desert traditions grapple with couched in some [what I thought were quite inventive] SFnal conceits. I can see myself re-reading this novel, because I find Bear's experiment with the consequences of dogma here bloody compelling. It might be one of the more unique books of this kind I've read, and it had some remarkable imagery. And best of all, I can read its three sections independently, as they're all novella length and fairly self-contained. The second section was, for me, the most affecting. And like in his Hegira and, to a slightly lesser extent, in Beyond Heaven's River, the revelations at the end are suitably vast in scope. My next SF outing will be the final instalment of Neal Asher's Spatterjay trilogy, Orbus. I expect it to be as action-packed and fun as the previous two.