Originally published in France in 1982, this is another of Boulle's small fables about ecology (The Whale of the Victoria Cross, etc.)--but with a twist: this time the broadly ironic focus is on the doomed idealism of shortsighted ecological fanatics, especially those with a mania for solar energy. Just such a fanatic is the spacey new President of France, Jean Blondeau, who managed to get elected on a simple-minded platform of ecology/uplift platitudes. And now Blondeau's campaign promise, his fondest dream, has become reality: a huge solar-energy facility using some 40,000 ""heliostats""--large mirrors that are constantly shifting to reflect the maximum light and heat from the sun. Almost immediately, however, the energy plant brings ecological nightmares to the surrounding area in rural Provence. To keep those 500 acres of mirrors clean, massive detergents are required--and soon all the fish are dying in a polluted river nearby. Bird droppings become a major threat to the mirrors--so the local wildfowl are decimated by poison and authorized poachers. Worst of all, when armies of mosquitoes converge on the mirrors, blocking the light, the only answer seems to be. . .DDT--and the President, deserted by his appalled aides, slides into a nervous breakdown. An obvious, overdrawn little satire, but not without a certain black-comic charm as the solar dream turns into a techno-nightmare.