Bookmarks Issue: 

A Times Odyssey, Book 2

A-SunstormIn 2004’s Time’s Eye, aliens kidnapped leaders from history (like Alexander the Great), mixed them up, and had them duke it out on an alien planet. Sunstorm, the sequel and finale, takes place in 2035, when Firstborn aliens return British Army Lieutenant Bisea Dutt to London. A sun storm sends a devastating surge to Earth, momentarily disrupting its electrical infrastructure. But the next flare, predicted for 2042, will annihilate all life on Earth. Bisea’s travels provide clues to these sun storms and the aliens’ attempts to destroy Earth. But can human ingenuity save Earth with a huge space sunshield before it’s too late?
Del Rey. 336 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 034545250X

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"[But] it’s the engineering details of designing and constructing the enormous sunshield that most concern the authors. … And yet, for all its scientific content, the narrative periodically reminds us that the powers of the aliens (which include time travel) are, to our pitiful human minds, indistinguishable from magic."
Gerald Jonas

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Though Clarke and Baxter have mastered the art of saving the world in block-buster style, the climactic finale is clouded by a tangential subplot about insidious aliens." Noah Robischon

MBR Bookwatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The key scientists … are stereotypical antagonist[s] from out of a 1950s movie ... while the interesting Bisea remains a strong heroic character. The story line is at its best during the international efforts to cooperate and during the five year countdown." Harriet Klausner

Critical Summary

Two giants—Clarke, one of the greatest SF writers, and award-winning Evolution (2003) author Baxter—have collaborated on an insidious vision of the future that’s sure to thrill fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF classics. It may help to first read Time’s Eye, which provides the back story to the aliens’ cruel experiments and desire to wipe out Earth, but each book stands alone. Convincing characters, including a British astronomer and doomsday physicist, lead the collective countdown to destruction. The authors’ scientific details (why the Earth’s shield must be made of glass manufactured on the moon, for instance) complement the plot. But it’s the climax, although flawed, that’s sure to blow your mind.