The Sunborn

The Sunborn

4.3 3
by Gregory Benford

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The award-winning author of "Timescape" and "Eater" returns with a gripping new novel set in the same dynamic future as his wildly popular "The Martian Race."


The award-winning author of "Timescape" and "Eater" returns with a gripping new novel set in the same dynamic future as his wildly popular "The Martian Race."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this unexceptional and somewhat slow-moving follow-up to The Martian Race (1999), Benford sends Julia and Viktor, the first astronauts to land on Mars, off to Pluto to investigate a number of strange phenomena. The solar system's coldest, most distant planet appears to be heating up and developing an atmosphere. Stranger still, another expedition has discovered life on Pluto, in an environment where it shouldn't exist. Benford has always been fascinated by the possibilities inherent in extraterrestrial life, and he takes advantage of his own scientific specialty, plasma physics, to create some extraordinary creatures. The competently constructed plot details the unraveling of a series of mysteries via the application of scientific method spiced with credible intuitive leaps. What fails to satisfy, however, are the characters. Julia seems too perfect, while her husband, Viktor, is little more than a nice guy with a funny accent. The second exploratory ship's captain, the daughter of the billionaire who financed Julia and Viktor's original Mars trip, comes across as a Paris Hilton with an advanced degree in biology. Her scenes with Julia, which involve stereotypical assumptions about how powerful women must interact, can be painful. Hard SF fans will find this an adequate read, but Benford has done far better work in the past. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (Mar. 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A novel about the discovery of anaerobic life on Mars? Trust physics professor and Nebula Award winner Benford to pull it off. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sequel to The Martian Race (1999), in which scientists Julia Barth and her Russian-accented husband, Viktor, pioneered Mars and discovered life, the vast, anaerobic, enigmatic Marsmat. Twenty years later, Viktor's accent has not improved, but with colonization in full swing, Julia and Viktor ponder the Marsmat's odd properties. Somehow, its vast, subterranean, far-flung parts can juggle magnetic fields, maybe in an attempt to communicate; it might even be intelligent! Mission sponsor John Axelrod's persistent efforts to exploit commercial opportunities, such as the Mars Effect, Julia and Viktor's unexplained youthfulness, remain a minor annoyance. Meanwhile, an expedition to Pluto to investigate that planet's inexplicable (and relative) warm-up (it's still utterly frigid), captained by Shanna, Axelrod's prickly, headstrong daughter, has discovered life. Subsisting on chemical and electromagnetic energies, the huge, blimplike, intelligent zand-with whom Shanna can communicate, thanks to the miraculous, near-intelligent, universal-translator software called Wiseguy-didn't evolve on Pluto. Moreover, the zand fear attack from the mysterious and deadly Darksiders. Julia and Viktor, sent in a state-of-the-art fusion-powered spaceship to assist, plunge into the usual rivalries, jealousies, and clashes of ideas and approaches. They do discover that the Darksiders are machines that arrive on huge snowballs called "iceteroids," steered in from the Oort cloud. They decide to take both theirs and Shanna's ships out to investigate-and precipitate the first interplanetary war. Benford-here, as always, at his best when portraying scientists discussing ideas and hammering out hypotheses-offers up someabsorbing scientific speculations, but stretches them to utterly far-fetched extremes.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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602 KB

Meet the Author

Gregory Benford is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, he received the Lord Prize for contributions to science in 1995 and the Asimov Memorial Award for popularizing science in 2007. He has written numerous works of science fiction, receiving a Nebula Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his novel Timescape.

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Sunborn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Two decades have passed since married astronaut scientists Julia and Viktor landed on Mars and discovered we are not alone when they found the living huge Marsmat (see THE MARTIAN RACE). Over the subsequent years, they learned a lot about the strange, anaerobic natives to include their seemingly weird abilities involving magnetism...................... However, a new exploration opportunity has surfaced with a chance to go to Pluto, which has suddenly for no reason has begun heating up though still way below zero Fahrenheit and data shows the forming of an atmosphere. Julia and Viktor leap at the prospects to be part of the expedition exploring the coldest known planet in the solar system. Shockingly, a previous expedition led by Captain Shanna has found life, the humongous intelligent zand, on the frozen orb that can communicate with humans. The zand warn that the dangerous mechanical Darksiders are coming on 'iceteroids,' from the Oort cloud................................. This sequel contains a wonderful story line on the vast possibilities of alternate life forms in the solar system. However, the human members of the cast seem shallow. Julia and Viktor have not seemed to have aged in spite of the harshness of their work although twenty years have passed and can do no wrong. Shanna at times is a genius and at other moments a jealous chick lit bimbo instead of a courageous brilliant explorer (the next generation Julia). Other characters are one dimensional unless they happen to be a Marsmat, a zand, or the Darksiders. The scientific discussion that underlies the novel is superb and highlights Gregory Benford¿s ability to simplify without dumbing down extremely complex theories and do it inside a strong story line that overcomes the prime players..................... Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago