Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
Del Rey, Dec 2007, $25.95
The Firstborn previously attacked the earth with a solar flare; this essence refuses to allow any sentient race to live that might have the potential one day to be an adversarial rival. The Earth surprised the Firstborn by surviving the assault as no one endures an attack by this super being.
The Firstborn changes tactics by sending the Q-bomb from deep space towards Earth. When efforts to deflect the meteor like weapon fails, dissension on and off the planet slows down reactions as differing groups push forth an agenda. The Spacers on Mars and Mir are already cutting ties with the mother planet; they want nothing to do with the confrontation with Firstborn as they feel they can endure the destruction of the Earth. Many of those living on Earth want to take the war to the Firstborn, but are not sure how. Meanwhile defrosted Bisesa Dutt has returned to the living after fifteen years of being cryogenically frozen and with her daughter Myra discover the government wants them. With the help of Spacer Alexei they escape and soon meet scientists studying the Eye, an artifact of the Firstborn, in hopes of finding a way to counter the invincible.
The third Time Odyssey tale is an exhilarating science fiction thriller that targets fans who read the previous stories (see SUNSTORM and TIME’S EYE). Newcomers will be confused (and some of us old timers too) by the world hopping between Mir, Mars, and Earth. The key to the tale is that life on Mars, Mir, future earth, and to a much lesser degree Venus seem genuine. Those living on the different orbs behave as expected as things that seem different to a reader is treated as normal even the time bending of people and species from different earth eras living in fragile co-existence. Fans who appreciate a strong dose of quantum physics will enjoy this fine entry although a cliffhanger leaves room for another novel in this entertaining saga and we still wait for that encounter of the first kin with Firstborn.