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February 04, 1989|DENNIS McLELLAN

"Tides of Light," a new science fiction novel by UC Irvine physics professor Gregory Benford, has just been released in hardback by Bantam. The novel, Benford's 12th, is a sequel to his 1988 book, "Great Sky River."

"It is," Benford said in an interview, "a further consideration of the significance of human intelligence in the face of superior machine minds. It's set in the very far future, at a time when human beings have approximately the same social status compared to machine intelligence that cockroaches do in Manhattan." He paused, then laughed: "And they're treated the same way."

Two of Benford's novels, "Timescape" (1980) and "If the Stars Are Gods" (1976), have won the Nebula Award, which is voted on by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. And, he said, "We will know in a little over 2 weeks whether 'Great Sky River' is going to be on the final ballot" for the 1988 award.

Benford said he just finished co-writing a science fiction novel with Arthur C. Clarke called "Beyond the Fall of Night." Putnam will release it in hard cover next year.

"It's set a billion years from now," he explained, "and it's about the long-term significance of the human species in the plan of evolution. . . ."

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