By David Brin

ISBN-10: 0553173987

ISBN-13: 9780553173987

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Why had the predicted galactic radio network of communications never been detected? Even more puzzling . . why was there absolutely no evidence that Earth had ever been colonized in the past? We were by then quite certain that our world had never hosted visitors from other worlds. For one thing, there was the history of the Precambrian to consider. Before the age of reptiles, before fish or trilobites or even amoebae, there was, on Earth, a two-billion-year epoch in which the only lifeforms were crude single-celled organisms without nuclei—the prokaryotes—struggling slowly to invent the basic structure of life.

Its shattered crystalsphere. "There's a complete suite of planets," announced Yen Ching, our cosmophysicist. His hands groped about in his holistank, touching in its murk what the ship's instruments were able to decipher from this distance. " We cheered. With numbers like those, odds were that at least one of the rocky planets circled within the Lifezone. "Let me see . . there's one littleworld here that has—" Yen pulled his hand from the tank. He popped a finger in his mouth and tasted for a moment, rolling his eyes like a connoisseur savoring fine wine.

The histories of those worlds would be forever changed. And there is no way to imagine the death-of-possibility that would have resulted. So, the barriers protected worlds until they developed life capable of cracking the shells from within. But what was the point? What benefit was there in protecting some young thing, only for it to grow up into bitter, cramped loneliness in adulthood? Imagine what it must have been like for the very first race of star-treaders. Never, were they patient as Job, would they find another goodstar to possess.

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River of Time, The by David Brin

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