Tor, Aug 4 2009, $25.99
Astronaut Keith Stoner was part of an American-Russian space venture when the alien starship arrived. He became trapped inside; frozen for almost two decades and never time merged with the alien technology. Found drifting, he was brought back to earth where he was revived. However, Keith knew he no longer was human and did not belong so he built a starship based on the alien side of him and left the planet with his Jo Camerata to explore the cosmos.
Over a hundred years later, he comes home but now understands how profound Thomas Wolfe’s "You Can't Go Home Again" is. He and his mate Jo (accompanied by their children Cathy and Rick) recognize nothing. Mankind is killing the planet with the greenhouse effect rapidly turning the orb into a neo-Venus and the extreme conservatives hold power with a strict rigid iron fist while ignoring the consequences of doing nothing to save humanity’s goring the planet. Keith leaves his family in orbit to do some surveillance, but except for the odd underground rebel, mankind’s reign seems through
The fourth Stoner tale (see VOYAGERS, THE ALIEN WITHIN and STAR BROTHERS) is an interesting cautionary science fiction thriller that warns readers to take global warming seriously and kick out demagogues before it is too late; sort of homage to Zager and Evans’” In the year 2525”. The story line is fast-paced as Keith and Jo are in for a rude awakening re the earth starting with the melted polar cap and that his knowledge of history does not match the official records of the planet he orbits. However, this earth he finds is never adequately explained in regards to how he and his family got there and why Ben Bova chose THE RETURN to take place where it does as the blending seems disjointed to fans of the author who will recognize early on references to the Goddard project on Saturn.