points the way

The Way (Greg Bear)

The Way fictional universe is a trilogy of science fiction novels and one short story by Greg Bear. The first novel was Eon (1985), followed by a sequel, Eternity and a prequel, Legacy. It also includes The Way of All Ghosts, a short story that falls between Legacy and Eon.

The three novels


Eon chronicles the appearance and discovery of the Thistledown, and its subsequent effect on humanity.

In the early 21st century, the USA and Russia are on the verge of nuclear war. In that tense political climate, an asteroid appears out of near space after an unusual supernova and settles into an extremely elliptical near Earth orbit. The two nations each try to claim this mysterious object, which appears to be a virtual duplicate of Juno. It is hollow and contains seven vast terraformed chambers. Two of the chambers contain cities long abandoned by human beings who seemed to come from Earth's future. The asteroid is called the Thistledown by its builders. A startling discovery is that it is bigger inside than outside. The seventh chamber appears to stretch into infinity.

The human inhabitants of the Thistledown come from an alternate timeline, approximately 1000 years in the future. In their timeline, human civilization was nearly destroyed by the "Death", a calamitous World War involving nuclear weapons. The Death occurred at approximately the same time as the appearance of the Thistledown in the present time. Its presence threatens to cause the Death to occur on the current timeline as well.

An expedition is sent down the seemingly infinite seventh chamber (The "Way", as it is known) where it encounters the descendants of humanity. The high technology of this civilization, known as the Hexamon, with its control over genetic engineering, human augmentation, and matter itself are some of the main points of interest here. The Hexamon includes several alien species who have come to live with humanity's descendants. The Hexamon itself is at war with an alien race known as the Jarts from further down the corridor still.

In 2007, CGSociety organised a "CG Challenge" based upon Eon


Jarts, politics, and technology make up the second book in the series: Eternity.

The Jart religion is particularly interesting because it is based on the preservation of all data, which encompasses all life forms, past and present, and sending that data to the Jarts' future masters, their descendants.


In the third book (a prequel, set in the time before Eon), Legacy, soldier Olmy ap Sennon is sent to spy on a group of dissidents who have used the spacetime tunnel of "the Way" (introduced in Eon) to colonize the alien world of Lamarckia, a planet with an ecosystem that learns from its changed environment in a way that resembles Lamarckian evolution. Its plants and animals turn out to actually be parts of continent-sized organisms.

The Way of All Ghosts

In the short story, The Way of All Ghosts, soldier Olmy ap Sennon is sent to close a lesion that formed out of a wayward gate into perfection. This story was published in 1999 in Far Horizons.


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