Monday, January 31, 2011

"Firstborn" Book 3 of "A Time Odyssey" By Arthur C. Clark & Stephen Baxter

Book 3 of "A Time Odyssey"
By Arthur C. Clark & Stephen Baxter
Read by John Lee
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Approx. 12 Hours

Listening to this book has concluded the 3 book series "A Time Odyssey" by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, and I'm not sure whether I should feel frustrated or elated. Frustrated, because this book left a killer of a cliffhanger. Elated because I just finished the last book Arthur C. Clarke wrote. Clarke's death in 2008 pretty much ensured that this was the last in the series, but Stephen Baxter co-wrote it with him and could possibly throw in one more book to end this saga. Before you go on let me warn you, this review contains some spoilers.

The first two books in the series, "Time's Eye" and "Sunstorm" led to the story in "Firstborn" but in no way did "Firstborn" end the series. To sum up, "Time's Eye" told of a major happening in which, what is discovered to be an ancient race known as the Firstborn, took slices of Earth from different times (Mongols, Alexander the Great, Chicago 1894, India 1894, Afghanistan 2037, neanderthals, and more) and "stitch" together what the survivors come to call Mir. On Mir, Bisesa Dut, a UN peacekeeper patrolling in Afghanistan with her fellow UN peacekeepers, discovers that this new world is pieced together all times of Earth but nothing past 2037 (her time). They also learn that there are a series of spheres around the planet that they come to call "eyes." One "eye" begins to communicate with Bisesa and after a war between Alexander the great and a mishmash of armies and Ghengis Khan, Bisesa asks the "eye" to take her back to her time.

In "Sunstorm," Bisesa is reunited with her daughter, Bisesa has aged 5 years due to being on Mir, but the "eye" has placed her back with no time loss. Scientists on Earth discover that the Mother of all sunstorms is building and that all life on Earth will be burned away. The people of Earth band together and before the Earth is sterilized in 2042, begin building a shield that will orbit the Earth and protect from the destruction. The Earth is saved and some of the new technologies created in saving the planet boost the planet's Space occupation ventures. The big secret revealed in this book is that the Sunstorm was created by the Firstborn many millennia in the past (the Firstborn can travel space and Time). Why the Firstborn wish to destroy life is unknown.

"Firstborn" begins to unravel some of the mysteries of the Firstborn. Earth is not the only planet they have focused their "wrath" upon. It is found that they once destroyed the life on Mars. In the polar ice caps of Mars a Firstborn "eye" is discovered. Somehow the ancient Martians discovered a way to defeat the Firstborn, or rather how to fight off their "eyes". In "Sunstorm" all three of Earth's Artificial Intelligence forms were blasted out into the universe to save them. Those 3 AI's have discovered a planet across the galaxy that was also a target of the Firstborn and one of them is beamed back to Earth to warn the humans of the expanse of the Firstborn's wrath. But at this time the Earth is again a target of a Firstborn weapon called the Q-bomb. Bisesa Dutt is sent back to Mir via the "eye" on Mars and manages to communicate with the Ancient life on Mars where they team up and activate the eye which makes the Q-Bomb move on to destroy Mars, leaving Earth safe. A few stay on Mars to experience the destruction, which is actually a creation of a new universe in Mars' place. Bisesa is thrown back on Mars with her daughter to witness the creation, but a portal opens behind them, and Myra's estranged daughter, Charlotte, invites them through. It is revealed that in Charlotte's future, humanity alone or with other sentient allies, calls itself the Lastborn as they are at war with the Firstborn.

A cliffhanger indeed, I hope this can be concluded some way, but whether or not this happens, these books are a great example of the mass of intelligence that is Arthur C. Clarke. Imaginative yet possible.

The reader John Lee delivers the story with precision and keeps the listener involved and on edge throughout this whole book (as well as the other 2 books).

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