Moonseed (NASA Series #3) [NOOK Book]


It Eats Planets. And It's Here.

It starts when Venus explodes into a brilliant cloud of dust and debris, showering Earth with radiation and bizarre particles that wipe out all the crops and half the life in the oceans, and fry the ozone layer. Days later, a few specks of moon rock kicked up from the last Apollo mission fall upon a lava crag in Scotland. That's all it takes ...

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Moonseed (NASA Series #3)

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It Eats Planets. And It's Here.

It starts when Venus explodes into a brilliant cloud of dust and debris, showering Earth with radiation and bizarre particles that wipe out all the crops and half the life in the oceans, and fry the ozone layer. Days later, a few specks of moon rock kicked up from the last Apollo mission fall upon a lava crag in Scotland. That's all it takes . . .

Suddenly, the ground itself begins melting into pools of dust that grow larger every day. For what has demolished Venus, and now threatens Earth itself, is part machine, part life-form: a nano-virus, dubbed Moonseed, that attacks planets.

Four scientists are all that stand between Moonseed and Earth's extinction, four brilliant minds that must race to cut off the virus and save what's left of Earth--a pulse-stopping battle for discovery that will lead them from the Earth's inner core to a daredevil Moon voyage that could save, or damn, us all.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Apocalypse Now?

Author Stephen Baxter follows up his previous efforts, Voyage and Titan, with a powerful third offering entitled Moonseed, another provocative novel of penetrating yet believable science fiction that makes the best use of hard-SF elements, with perplexing questions on the nature of the universe and exactly what the future of humanity's role in the cosmos will be. With a wide array of characters brought to life with warmth and feeling, the reader soon becomes involved with not only a star-spanning threat but also what it means to find regret, triumph, and wonderment at the dawning of a new age.

We witness the birth of the moon five billion years ago: a violent, strange, and altogether uncanny — and possibly alien — delivery. Jumping to the near future, our current story begins as Venus explodes, leaving NASA scientist and space-station astronaut Geena Bourne and her brilliant geologist ex-husband, Henry Meacher, groping for answers. Venus has not only exploded but actually been annihilated into a gaseous state — an effect that takes a blast a million times more powerful than all of the world's nuclear arsenals combined. Speculations regarding Venus's demise range from black hole superstrings to world-eating alien nanotechnology.

Henry then travels to Scotland to investigate one of the last untouched moon rocks, collected 30 years earlier during one of NASA's Apollo missions. In Edinburgh, Henry immediately takes to his research assistant, Mike Dundas, even while embarrassing himself in front of —andfalling for — Mike's brassy sister, Jane.

As a gift for his sister, Mike takes a few grains of moondust from the lab. The dust transforms the volcanic formations of the city, creating silvery pools that contain further superstring forces. Soon Edinburgh is inundated by volcanic eruptions as the Moonseed spreads around the globe, causing cataclysmic changes in the Earth's crust.

Henry realizes that the answers await him on the moon, and his ex-wife is the best-qualified astronaut to get him there. With the communal efforts of NASA, the Russians, and several other tangential secondary characters (including an Irishman-turned-monk in Japan), Henry and Geena voyage to the moon, which appears to already be suffering through its own odd changes. The moon may, in fact, be the last safe refuge for humanity, and plausible terraforming comes into question, although there may not be time to complete the project before the end of the world arrives.

Working with a solid and exuberant narrative voice, Baxter is utterly at ease with the flow of the book, moving fluidly from high-tech elements to the suspenseful and credible story line about the possible end of the Earth. The author has created a terrifying but poignant novel of calamity, swiftly gathering up the major plot threads from all corners of the world that inevitably knit together.

Baxter indulges in the realistic and practical details of space flight and geological upheaval. But here science isn't merely dry facts or formulaic action; instead all the flux of data is intriguing and used to strong effect in building apprehension, as more and more information is revealed about what exactly is happening to the solar system. We also see how some relationships are, in one way or another, encouraged, weakened, or built upon a common passion for scientific study — and how competitiveness over breakthrough discoveries can drive even lovers apart. Moonseed is at turns wistful, action-packed, and enlightening, and will likely ignite a new passion in the reader when he stares into the looming possibilities hanging in the night sky.
— Tom Piccirilli,
— Tom Piccirilli,is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including Hot Blood: Fear the Fever.

A stunning talent!
New Scientist
Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein succeeded...and now Stephen Baxter joins their exclusive ranks, writing science fiction in which the science is right. A sheer pleasure to read!
Arthur C. Clarke
A major new talent!
VOYA - Vicky Burkholder
British author Baxter has written an incredible story that takes readers from the birth of the universe to the destruction of Earth, and beyond. Venus has exploded. Nobody knows why, but except for strange radiation, nobody is really worried. Geologist Henry Meacher, formerly of NASA, is sent to Scotland to study moon rocks brought back over forty years ago on the original Apollo flights. Divorced and bitter, but resigned, Henry assigns his lab assistant Mike to slice rock 86047 into pieces for study. Mike saves some of the dust to show his sister, and they scatter it across the grass above Edinburgh. A day later, the moonseed has taken root and is spreading at a phenomenal rate. When Henry discovers this he realizes what is happening: moonseed destroys worlds. After Edinburgh is devastated by massive quakes, Henry finally convinces others that what is happening cannot be stopped-Earth will cease to exist within their lifetime. His theory is backed up by massive destruction on all continents. Henry and others then manage to persuade the world governments that the only safe place to be is on the moon. At the core of the moon is the birthplace of moonseed, and the only thing that stops it. Eventually, the remaining population is evacuated and the moon becomes the new center of civilization. This is an epic novel full of vivid description, hard science (physics, geology, biology, terra-forming, etc.), ethics, societal comments, and imagination-all pulled together by brilliant writing. A must-have for any library with a science fiction section and a good addition to any collection. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being better written, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).
Kirkus Reviews
Another massive near-future, near-space yarn from the author of Voyage (1997). As NASA space jockey Geena Bourne acrimoniously splits from her geologist husband, Henry Meacher, Venus explodes into nova-like brilliance. The explanation, scientists think, involves superstrings: the planet's wreckage produces massless black holes. Geena returns to work, while Henry travels to Edinburgh to investigate a large Moon rock gathered by the last Apollo mission 30 years ago and left untouched since. Silvery "Moonseed" dust escapes from the lab, however, and "infects" the ancient volcanic rocks underlying the city, converting them into novel crystalline forms using superstring energies. Within days, Edinburgh is engulfed by volcanic eruptions. Moonseed spreads rapidly around the globe, chewing up the planet's crust, and producing more terrestrial turbulence. Henry, who's developing a theory (is Moonseed some sort of hive organism? or alien nanotechnology that converts planets into spaceships?) must get to the Moon to gather crucial evidence. Geena's the best pilot available, though rundown NASA will need lots of Russian hardware and technical help. Henry confirms that the Moon, too, is infected with Moonseed, but something massive is inhibiting its full development. With Earth doomed to meltdown, the Moon's clearly the only safe haven for what's left of humanity. But can it be made habitable in time to receive millions of refugees?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061809682
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: NASA Series, #3
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 321,714
  • File size: 715 KB

Meet the Author

Stephen Baxter is an acclaimed, multiple-award-winning author whose many books include the Xeelee sequence, the Time Odyssey novels (written with Arthur C. Clarke), The Time Ships, a sequel to H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, and The Wheel of Ice, a Doctor Who novel. He lives in Northumberland.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

It began in a moment of unimaginable violence, five billion years before humans walked the Earth.

There was a cloud, of gas and dust, slowly spinning. Much of it was the hydrogen and helium which had emerged from the Big Bang itself, but it was tainted by crystals of ice--ammonia, water and methane--and dust motes rich in iron, magnesium and silica, even some grains of pure metal. These were flotsam from older stars, stars already dead.

. . . And now another star died, a giant, in the conclusive spasm of supernova. A flood of energy and matter hammered into the cloud.

The cloud lost its stability, and began to collapse, to a spinning disc. The central mass shone cherry red, then gradually brightened to white, until--after a hundred million years--it burst into fusion life.

It was the protostar which would become the sun.

Within the disc, solid particles began to crystallize. There were grains of rock--silicate minerals called olivines and pyroxenes--and minerals of iron and nickel, kamacite and taenite. The particles, stuck together by melting ice, formed planetesimals, muddy lumps which swarmed on looping, irregular orbits around the sun.

The planetesimals collided.

Where an impact was head-on, the worldlets could be shattered. But where the collisions were gentle, the worldlets could nudge into each other, stick together, merge. Soon, some aggregations were large enough to draw in their smaller companions.

Thus, young Earth: a chaotic mixture of silicates, metals and trapped gases, cruising like a hungry shark in a thinning ring of worldlets.

Earth's bulk was warm, for the heat of accumulation and of supernova radioactivedecay was trapped inside. The metals, heavier than the silicates, sank to the center, and around the new, hot core, a rocky mantle gathered. Gases trapped in the core were driven out, and formed Earth's first atmosphere: a massive layer of hydrogen, helium, methane, water, nitrogen and other gases, amounting to ten percent of Earth's total mass.

Earth's evolution continued, busily, logically.

But something massive was approaching.

"Look up, Tracy. Look at the Moon. You know, we take that damn thing for granted. But if it suddenly appeared in the sky, if it was Mercury hauled up here from the center of the Solar System, my gosh, it would be the story of the century . . ."

It was 1973.

Her father, Jays, had been back from the Moon only a couple of months. Tracy Malone, ten years old, thought he'd come back . . . different.

"Look up," he said again, and she obeyed, turning from his face to the Moon.

The face of the Man in the Moon glared down at Tracy. It was a composition of gray and white, flat and unchanging, hanging like a lantern in the muggy Houston sky.

"The Moon looks like a disc," said her father, in his stiff schoolteacher way. "But it isn't. That's an optical illusion. It's a rocky world, a ball. You know that, don't you, sweet pea?"

Of course I know that. "Yes, Dad."

"People used to think the Moon was like the Earth. They gave those dark gray patches the names of oceans. Well, now we know they are seas of frozen lava. Think about that. And those brighter areas are the highlands, rocky and old. Now, look for the Man's right eye: you see it? That distinct circle? That's what we call the Mare Imbrium. It's actually one huge crater, big enough to swallow Texas. It was gouged out by a gigantic meteorite impact almost four billion years ago. What a sight that must have been."

"But there was nobody around to watch it. Not even the dinosaurs."

"That's right. And then, much later, it got flooded with basalt--"

"Where did Neil Armstrong land?"

"Look for the Man's left eye. See the way it's sort of sad and drooping? Follow that eye down and you come to Mare Tranquillitatis."

"Tranquillity Base."

"That's right. Neil put his LM down just by the Man's lower eyelid."

"Can I see your crater?"

"No. Most craters are too small for people to see. But I can show you where it is. Look again at that big right eye. See the way the mare's gray extends beyond the circle, out of the Imbrium basin itself? That's Procellarum, the Ocean of Storms. That's where Apollo 12 landed, where Pete Conrad put his LM down right next to that old Surveyor. Well, my crater is on the border there, between Imbrium and Procellarum."

"I can't see it."

"It's called Aristarchus. It's named after the man who figured out how far away the Moon is, two thousand years ago . . ."

She looked at his pointing hand. Even though he had washed and showered, over and over, she saw there was still black Moon dust under his fingernails, and ground into the tips of his fingers. It was going to take a long time for him to get clean.

He was still dog tired after the trip. But he couldn't sleep. Even when he lay flat in his bunk, he said, it felt as if his body was tilted head down. There was, he said, too much gravity here.

A lot of stuff had happened up there, she suspected, that he would never tell her.

He ruffled her hair. "You think you'll ever get to go to the Moon?"

"What for? There's nothing there but a bunch of old rocks."

"I thought you liked rocks. Your collection--"

"I like real rocks."

"Moon rocks are real."

"But they won't let you touch 'em."

"Maybe. Anyhow, you're wrong. About the Moon. It's not just rocks. If you lived there you could make metals, and oxygen to breathe, and there's silica to make glass. And with the water from the Poles, you could farm up there."

"Water? I thought there's no air."

"There isn't. But there is ice at the Poles. Deep in the dark, where the sun never shines."

Moonseed. Copyright © by Stephen Baxter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 2, 2012

    Great Book! Fast read!

    For those of you that have read Baxter's other NASA series books, you'll love this one! Couldn't put it down!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    A Blisteringly good book

    If you hve already read the 2 reviews that don't like the book, try to foget about them. The first reviewer is way to fussy, and he hasn't read the whole book so he can't give a proper review of it. The other bad reviewer has picked the racism in the story out of the air, neither me nor any of my friends noticed anyhing like that atall. O.K rant over, lets get down to actually reviewing the book. The first thing that hit me about this book was the realism: almost everything he says could still actually happen, and the science has been worked out. The sense of emptiness you get as he explains the awesome destruction happening to Planet Earth is utterly fantastic. This is a great book, but I can't tell you anymore as I going out! Buy it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001


    My first complaint was in the first couple of pages. There was a comment about one of the astronauts having moondust under his fingernails after a trip to the moon. I understand metaphors but this was clearly stated as being a fact. It seems the author does not understand how spacesuits work. The author doesn't seem to be aware that if an astronaut did come in contact with moondust - that every particle of it would have been taken off his body by NASA when he got back to earth. The next problem was the description of a moonsuit as being 'inflated' - again the author demonstrates a lack of knowledge regarding Apollo moonsuits. They were never inflated. The final straw for me was reading a description of Apollo 18's mission. There was no Apollo 18. If this book was intended as alternatative history science fiction then it should have been in the appropriate sci-fi sub-genre. I'm afraid I don't know if the rest of this book was worth reading because I brought it back to my local Barnes & Noble and demanded a refund. You should know that in my entire 39 years of life, I have never returned a book or been this disappointed. I'm not an overly critical reader. I enjoy Anne McCaffrey novels quite a bit even though she occassionaly takes some scientific liberties - but at least her books are categorized correctly.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2000

    Ethnocentric 2001 Wannabe

    If you like to read negative, narrow-minded, unoriginal books, read this one. Only white people from parts of the U.S., England, Scotland, and Russia exist in this book. Everyone else must have died during Y2K (the year is 2004), or never existed according to the author, Stephen Baxter. Even the one character who lives in Japan is Irish, not Japanese. The one Japanese character has an American accent (southern/Texan) and uses Americanisms like crazy. By the way, the author is British - colours instead of colors, tyres instead of tires, storeys instead of stories... And those white people who populate earth (England, Scotland, Russian and parts of the United States), are negative and prejudge everyone else. The protaganist hates Russians. I don't know why, but according to the protagonist, everyone who is Russian is not a nice person, and he belittles Russia and the Russians as much as the author allows him to. Hmmm... I wonder if these are Stephen Baxter's own person beliefs... And the plot is not original. Just an Arthur C. Clarke wannabe. I'm sorry I purchased this book without checking it out first.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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