Though supposedly the last volume of Clarke and Baxter's Time Odyssey series (after 2005's Sunstorm), this intriguing and frustrating installment of the high-octane space opera ends with an astounding cliffhanger just as humans have begun to confront the ancient and super-powerful Firstborn, who attack any species that might become a rival. Having barely survived a Firstborn-created solar flare, Earth now must cope with a meteor bomb approaching from deep space. Tensions rise between secretive, paranoid forces on Earth and equally suspicious groups among the Spacers, whose identification with humanity's home is waning. Meanwhile, in a pocket universe created by the Firstborn for some inscrutable purpose, slices from different Terran eons nervously adjust to each other. The narrative leaps about too much to develop characters, but Clarke has never been as interested in individuals as in humanity's ability to accept change as a species. It's too early to tell whether that theme will be enough to carry the story to a coherent conclusion. (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Firstborn (Time Odyssey Series #3)by Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter
The Firstborn–the mysterious race of aliens who first became known to science fiction fans as the builders of the iconic black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey–have inhabited legendary master of science fiction Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s writing for decades. With Time’s Eye and Sunstorm, the first two books in their acclaimed Time Odyssey/i>… See more details below
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The Firstborn–the mysterious race of aliens who first became known to science fiction fans as the builders of the iconic black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey–have inhabited legendary master of science fiction Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s writing for decades. With Time’s Eye and Sunstorm, the first two books in their acclaimed Time Odyssey series, Clarke and his brilliant co-author Stephen Baxter imagined a near-future in which the Firstborn seek to stop the advance of human civilization by employing a technology indistinguishable from magic.
Their first act was the Discontinuity, in which Earth was carved into sections from different eras of history, restitched into a patchwork world, and renamed Mir. Mir’s inhabitants included such notables as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and United Nations peacekeeper Bisesa Dutt. For reasons unknown to her, Bisesa entered into communication with an alien artifact of inscrutable purpose and godlike power–a power that eventually returned her to Earth. There, she played an instrumental role in humanity’s race against time to stop a doomsday event: a massive solar storm triggered by the alien Firstborn designed to eradicate all life from the planet. That fate was averted at an inconceivable price. Now, twenty-seven years later, the Firstborn are back.
This time, they are pulling no punches: They have sent a “quantum bomb.” Speeding toward Earth, it is a device that human scientists can barely comprehend, that cannot be stopped or destroyed–and one that will obliterate Earth.
Bisesa’s desperate quest for answers sends her first to Mars and then to Mir, which is itself threatened with extinction. The end seems inevitable. But as shocking new insights emerge into the nature of the Firstborn and their chilling plans for mankind, an unexpected ally appears from light-years away.
From the Hardcover edition.
Ever since the appearance of the black monolith in 2001 (as detailed in Clarke's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey), humanity has been fascinated with the creatures they call the Firstborn, possessors of technology far more sophisticated than earthly scientists can even imagine. In 2064, an anomaly-an object traveling through space-destroys a deep-space monitor and continues on a trajectory that will impact Earth in 2072 unless steps are taken. The Firstborn have arrived. SF Grand Master Clarke and Locus Award winner Baxter bring their "Time Odyssey" (Time's Eye; Sunstorm) series to a close while leaving room for yet another phase of their saga. Most libraries should purchase.
“Clarke and Baxter have mastered the art of saving the world in blockbuster style.”
“An absolute must for science fiction fans.”
–All Things Considered
“Sure to blow your mind.”
“Wonderfully entertaining . . . a story that engrosses you with its dramatized ideas about the nature of existence.”
“A rousing adventure.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“A fast and engaging read.”
–Rocky Mountain News
Read an Excerpt
It wasn’t like waking. It was a sudden emergence, a clash of cymbals. Her eyes gaped wide open, and were filled with dazzling light. She dragged deep breaths into her lungs, and gasped with the shock of selfhood.
Shock, yes. She shouldn’t be conscious. Something was wrong.
A pale shape swam in the air.
“No. No, Mum, it’s me.” That face came into focus a little more, and there was her daughter, that strong face, those clear blue eyes, those slightly heavy dark brows. There was something on her cheek, though, some kind of symbol. A tattoo?
“Myra?” She found her throat scratchy, her voice a husk. She had a dim sense, now, of lying on her back, of a room around her, of equipment and people just out of her field of view. “What went wrong?”
“Why wasn’t I put into estivation?”
Myra hesitated. “Mum—what date do you think it is?”
“2050. June fifth.”
“No. It’s 2069, Mum. February. Nineteen years later. The hibernation worked.” Now Bisesa saw strands of gray in Myra’s dark hair, wrinkles gathering around those sharp eyes. Myra said, “As you can see I took the long way round.”
It must be true. Bisesa had taken another vast, unlikely step on her personal odyssey through time. “Oh, my.”
Another face loomed over Bisesa.
“No. Doctor Heyer has long retired. My name is Doctor Stanton. We’re going to begin the full resanguination now. I’m afraid it’s going to hurt.”
Bisesa tried to lick her lips. “Why am I awake?” she asked, and she immediately answered her own question. “Oh. The Firstborn.” What could it be but them? “A new threat.”
Myra’s face crumpled with hurt. “You’ve been away for nineteen years. The first thing you ask about is the Firstborn. I’ll come see you when you’re fully revived.”
But Myra had gone.
The new doctor was right. It hurt. But Bisesa had once been a soldier in the British Army. She forced herself not to cry out.
From the Hardcover edition.
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