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SUNSTORM by Arthur C. Clarke


Book Two of A Time Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-345-45250-X
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

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.