Sunstorm by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a really interesting novel on a completely different level from the previous. They're linked almost tangentially to each other, focusing only on the grand design of these inscrutable aliens called the First Bornes and the MC from the previous novel who was returned from the Riverworld-type stitchwork Earth with so many times combined as one.
This Earth's direct challenge is dire as hell... a solar storm strong enough to scour the surface of the Earth and do significant damage WAY out at Jupiter, possibly Saturn. We're talking an extinction-level event here.
5 years to prepare. It's a future world about 35 years from the time this was written in the mid-2000's and even with the help of AI's and some advancements, the outlook is still poor as hell.
Clarke's characterization comes in very handy with Baxter's wild science, and we've got a much earlier look at what made Neal Stephenson's Seveneves so interesting. Neal's OMG let's save humanity right after the moon exploded might be rooted in a closer science-take than this one, and therefore better in that respect, but this one goes all out and pulls a Kim Stanley Robinson level of HUGE projects.
You know, like creating a refraction device wider than the sun, grown nanofilaments in the most interesting of plot twists. :) And the combined efforts of all humanity and AIs to save ourselves? Pretty damn amazing. :)
The focus is not on the characters, although they're pretty great. The focus is on the science, the Big Dumb Object, the means and methods, and the social problems surrounding it all. In that respect, I give this novel top marks.
It's SO different from the first one in the trilogy. I've got this impression that we're dealing with a trilogy-attempt at something super-huge and grand. Where it doesn't quite hit that EPIC GRAND mark, it still hits the OMG this is SO COOL line. :)
Really, it's pretty perfect for anyone tired of weak-ass SF who want huge projects with awesome huge stakes, not focused on war, but just plain survival. Bravo! :)
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