Sequel to New Earth (2013), in which humans explored a planet orbiting the star Sirius that turned out to be inhabited. By human-aliens.
After a voyage lasting 80 years, diplomat Jordan Kell and his team reached New Earth to learn that the world was built by machine intelligences known as the Predecessors and populated by them with a human species created from Earth DNA. With their advanced science, the Predecessors learned of a vast explosion in the galactic core that has caused a lethal sphere of gamma radiation to expand through the galaxy, killing all life it touches. Jordan and his New Earther wife, Aditi, returned in cryogenic suspension to Earth. Though the Death Wave won’t reach Earth for 2,000 years and New Earth scientists have developed shields against it, many other intelligent but pre-technological species won’t survive—unless Jordan and Aditi can persuade the World Council to build starships and go help them. Unfortunately, Anita Halleck, the ruthless and more-or-less immortal Council chair, dreams of controlling all the far-flung, independent-minded settlements scattered throughout the solar system and ruling them forever. If Jordan swings public opinion to his side, Halleck’s imperial ambitions will be finished. So, she reasons, she must find a way to shut the star travelers up. Permanently. Most of the book, then, details the twists and turns of a political battle that’s several surprises short of intriguing and conducted in slow motion with rubber knives. Bova supplies sufficient fresh detail to keep things from going catatonic, but the jury’s still out on whether he’s showing us a human society that’s finally beginning to mature or one that’s yawning and stretching before bedtime.
Not the best entry in this long and uneven series, but regulars won’t want to give up the habit now.