my first clifford d. simak read -- i got it and cemetery world at the same time, and since this one had "from the author of cemetery world" on the cover, i thought i'd save it for later, and start here. the book starts abruptly, and it takes a while before the sf world starts to gel.. however once i understood the milieu i'd been dropped into, the story fell into its natural rhythms and made sense to me in its fantastic way -- the opposite effect from jonathan lethem's gun, with occasional music, which i recently read, and couldn't help being distracted by discordance i felt the sf effects brought to his story. the sf elements serve the story here, and very effectively. for some reason i am reading a lot of books lately that stop and philosophize, and this is more of the same. there are two major strands here: the main narrative adventure part of the story, and then the philosophical flip side represented by the three faces of the Ship. i wasn't blown away, but i am intrigued.