Sequel to Farside (2013), wherein, amid a battle over nanotechnology, a new Earth-like planet was discovered orbiting Sirius.
Eighty years ago, Earth dispatched a starship to the planet, which was known to have water and an oxygen atmosphere. Now, a multinational team of scientists led by diplomat Jordan Kell, preserved via cryogenics, awakes and prepares to explore this New Earth. But bad news reaches them first: Earth, battling a renewed bout of climate change and coastal flooding, will send no backup missions; they are not only isolated, but expendable. Major surprises, however, await them. The planet is inhabited—by humans with highly advanced technology who not only speak English, but seem to know all about Earth and its history. Adri, a frail-looking man who claims to be nearly 300 years old, and beautiful Aditi—both names, Jordan discovers, borrowed from Hindu cosmology—make them welcome. But apart from Jordan, the people don’t trust the team; they seem willing enough to answer questions but never volunteer information, and there are too many mysteries. Eventually, the lead dissenter, Harmon Meek, forces Jordan to resign as leader, though Jordan does manage to install his younger brother, Brandon, in his place. Jordan’s happy to go along: He’s in love with Aditi and convinced that the human-aliens have benevolent intentions. But the questions persist. Are they hostile toward Earth? What do they really want? Is New Earth in fact a construct? Bova explores these dilemmas with gentle insistence, and while the answers may verge on the obvious to alert readers, the scientists’ suspicions, mistrust and reluctance to engage with a larger reality holds an unmistakable ring of truth.
An unspectacular but absorbing entry in Bova’s Grand Tour series.