CITY AT THE END OF TIME
This is the Russian black rye bread of science fiction novels; it's thick and heavy and has a taste both bitter and immensely satisfying. Bear builds not one world, but several, and his characters are incredibly complex. He tends toward overly detailed scenery and falls back on pedantic devices at times, but neither of those things takes much away from the skillfully built plot.
They are the protectors, whose task is to care for increments of history. As time decays and melds past and future into indistinguishable parts, each protector must survive long enough to pass that knowledge on to the new universe being born. (Del Rey, Aug., 512 pp., $27.00)