Near-future science-fiction thriller, one of Bova’s Grand Tour series (Mars Life, 2008, etc.), detailing human exploration of the solar system.
After an Earth-like planet is detected circling a nearby star, two projects race to capture the first visual images of New Earth. On the moon’s Farside, permanently facing away from Earth, a vast distributed optical telescope takes shape under Farside Observatory director Jason Uhlrich’s watchful eye—figuratively speaking, since he’s actually blind and “sees” by means of sound waves. Needing further sponsorship, Uhlrich has asked the filthy rich McClintock family for money, so scion Carter McClintock is now his administrative chief. Also on the staff are young astronomer Trudy Yost and dedicated technician Grant Simpson, who takes drugs to combat radiation and keep himself going so he can get the job done. Far out in space, meanwhile, the International Astronautical Authority and its wealthy backers are assembling a rival telescope. When one of Uhlrich’s mirrors cracks before installation, Simpson suggests they enlist the help of nanotechnology whiz Kris Cardenas to assemble another. Uhlrich is doubtful—nanotechnology is banned everywhere except on the moon—but accedes. Then Anita Halleck gets wind of the move; she’s one of IAA’s backers and has vengeful personal motives to oppose the McClintocks. Soon, suspense builds as a series of inexplicable deaths makes the Farside team start to wonder if deadly rogue nanomachines are loose in the facility—which could mean curtains for the entire project. Bova carries the story forward with his usual workmanlike, technically savvy narrative, which is interspersed with background facts and biographies of the main characters.
The sort of gritty, hands-on, you-are-there yarn at which Bova has long excelled.