Friday, August 06, 2010

"Sunstorm", book 2 of the Time Odyssey" By Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter

"Sunstorm", book 2 of the Time Odyssey"
By Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter
Read by John Lee
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Approx 10.5 hours

One of the greatest science fiction collections has to be Arthur C. Clarke's "Space Odyssey" series (2001, 2010, 2065 & concluding w/ 3001). In what would be his final decade here on Earth, Clarke teamed up with Stephen Baxter to write the "Time Odyssey" series. Clarke said that this series was neither a sequel nor prequel but rather an orthoquel (a neologism coined by Clarke for this purpose, combining the word sequel with ortho-, the Greek prefix meaning "straight" or "perpendicular", and alluding to the fact that time is orthogonal to space in relativity theory).

In book one of the series, "Time's Eye," Bisesa Dutt is taken from her time on Earth along with a few from her time and many others from throughout Earth's history such as Alexander the Great, Kubla Khan, by beings who call themselves the firstborn. The firstborn create a patchwork of Earth from various timeframes and Bisesa and her companions call this new planet Mir, a Russian word for peace but can also mean world. A war is fought between Alexander the great and his ragtag army of various armies from various times and on the other side Kubla Khan and the Mongols. After this war the Firstborn return Bisesa to her time, but only after some warning of what she has in store. She is shown a scorched Earth during an eclipse. Also Bisesa and her friends realize that from the collection of various times on Earth her time (2037) is the latest no one from after that year.

"Sunstorm" answers those clues and more so. Before I go any further into the story of what happens during this novel, I would like to point out that while this book is part of a series, it reads as though it is an independent novel, very little knowledge from book one is needed. There are hints but this book could be read as its own story.

When Bisesa returns to Earth, June 9th, 2037, a major solar flare has wiped out most of the planet's electronics. Being the future this is a lot, from smart cars to communication devices. The Earth is plunged into a world-wide disaster, but recovers relatively well. This is not the bad part, sure there are areas that struggle and human life is endangered, but not nearly as bad as what is to come. A scientist studying the sun has discovered that this sun event is a precursor to one that will come April 20, 2047. This event will be a sunstorm that upon its eruption will destroy the planet, burning a living things on the planet and evaporate the Earth's oceans. Unless human kind can do something about it.

It turns out that human kind is more crafty than some may think. Soon the planet's scientists converge and collaborate with the planet's Artificial Intelligence that is recognized by law as a living intelligent creature, a super computer known as Aristotle and create the a Shield that will be large enough to protect the Earth from space. This major task has to be created and functioning with in 5 years.

During the planning and construction of the shield Bisesa contacts some of those in charge and tells her tale of the Firstborn. She is at first thought of as a bit touched, but when it is discovered this upcoming sunstorm is the product of intelligent beings, the Firstborn. The Firstborn plunged a Jupiter sized planet into the sun around the time of the birth of Christ, (bright & morning star) in preparation for the sunstorm event to destroy humanity.

What turns out to be a great sci-fi race for time, "Sunstorm" will have you on the edge of your seat while listening to this fine classic audiobook.

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