The Barnes & Noble Review
Sunstorm, the concluding volume of Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter's Time Odyssey duology (Time's Eye was Book One), pits humankind against its most powerful nemesis yet -- the sun.
After a massive geomagnetic storm temporarily lays waste to the world's electronic infrastructure, scientists uncover the deadly truth -- in five years the Earth will be struck by a much larger sunstorm that will burn away the atmosphere, vaporize the oceans, and effectively wipe out all life on the planet. Just when man is on the doorstep of enormous achievements -- colonies on the moon, terraforming Mars, etc. -- the irony of being incinerated by the same star that gave humankind life in the first place is all too palpable.
But the profound statement from the controller of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission decades earlier -- "failure is not an option" -- is no less appropriate for this, humankind's most important task. The most brilliant scientists the world has to offer come together and engineer a possible solution -- to build a gigantic space shield 13,000 kilometers across that will protect the planet from the worst of the storm. With time ticking away, the people of Earth unite as never before in an effort to finish the shield…
Clarke and Baxter's Time Odyssey is, not surprisingly, epic in every sense of the word. As ambitious as their first collaboration, The Light of Other Days, and with numerous references to past Clarke classics like The Fountains of Paradise, this companion series to Clarke's Space Odyssey saga is an absolute must-read for fans of science fiction. Paul Goat Allen
Clarke has spent his long career wringing suspense and poetry from scientific facts. His and Baxter's explanation of why the shield must be made of glass manufactured on the moon is more enthralling than any number of space opera shoot-'em-ups. Their persuasive account of the physics behind the prodigious alien intervention draws on accessible metaphors like ''a Ping-Pong ball rebounding off the windshield of an 18-wheeler truck'' and ''a pebble thrown into a pond.'' And yet, for all its scientific content, the narrative periodically reminds us that the powers of the aliens (which include time travel) are, to our pitiful human minds, indistinguishable from magic.
The New York Times
Set in the same universe as Clarke's 2001 and its sequels, Clarke and Baxter's second and final Time Odyssey book (after 2004's Time's Eye) will especially appeal to fans of hard SF who appreciate well-grounded science and humans with a can-do attitude to problem solving. In 2037, the same day the enigmatic alien Firstborn return Bisea Dutt, the heroine of Time's Eye, to her home in London, the city grinds to a halt as a sun storm sends a massive surge of energy to Earth, temporarily destroying the world's electronic infrastructure. This surge presages another, much larger sun storm, due to hit in 2042, which will utterly annihilate life across the globe. Against all odds, the nations of Earth come together to construct a huge space umbrella that will shield the planet from the worst of the barrage. The answer to why the sun's activity is being manipulated to wipe out life on Earth must wait, given the day-to-day difficulties and politics of the construction project. The five-year sweep of events, the plethora of characters and the cuts from Mars to Earth to the moon during the climactic sun storm give the story a movie montage feel, but the focus on the enormously challenging task at hand will keep readers turning the pages. Agent, Scovil, Chichak, Galen. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Hostile aliens intend to blow up the Sun and wipe humanity out in this sequel to Time's Eye, (2004), where one reappearing character, unlike anybody else, retains memories from the previous adventure. In 2037, a giant solar flare disrupts electrical and electronic processes on Earth. Having predicted the flare, genius physicist Eugene Mangles (the usual planet-sized brain, zero social skills) extrapolates with implausible precision that on April 20, 2042, another huge solar eruption will fry the Earth down to the bedrock. What to do? Well, the irritatingly clueless characters-British Astronomer Royal Siobhan McGorran chief among them-finally come up with the idea of a space shield that will deflect most of the deadly radiation. To build such a shield will require all the resources and efforts of every nation on the planet (excepting China, which has its own agenda). Even then, the shield by itself won't be enough, and the world's great cities cover themselves with protective domes. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Bisesa Dutt of the British Army, having lived five years in another reality and bearing the scars to prove it, contacts Siobhan with her suspicions about the mysterious Firstborn, alien intelligences who want to expunge the human race because-get this-we'll probably use up the galaxy's available energy too quickly. Calculating furiously, Mangles shows that a supergiant planet walloped our Sun in 4 b.c., destabilizing it-and that the planet was dispatched deliberately from the constellation Aquila. What's more, we're not the only race the Firstborn have pummeled. By the time the exposition-stuffed narrative gets around to reporting on the main event, few readers will care. Stephen Baxterauthor tour. Agent: Russell Galen/Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency
Praise for Time’s Eye
“A rousing adventure.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Wonderfully entertaining . . . a story that engrosses you with its dramatized ideas about the nature of existence . . . You won’t set the book down either to eat or sleep or work if you can help it.”
“By the end, when two of history’s most ambitious conquerors meet, we are so thoroughly invested in the characters, we can’t wait for the sequel.”
–Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)
“A fast and engaging read.”
–Rocky Mountain News
From the Hardcover edition.