Eighteen years have passed since the first manned mission to Earth arrived from Venus. With the first colonists already establishing themselves across the bright, sunny world of clear blue skies and wonderlands of towering mountains and ice deserts, Kyal Reen arrives to join the Venusian scientific and archeological teams that are working to reconstruct the story of the mysterious and enigmatic extinct Terran race that once flourished there. Studies of Terran geology, scientific works, and ancient records show that Earth's early peoples witnessed terrifying cataclysmic cosmic events in skies very different from those seen today. In his travels among the Terran ruins, Kyal meets a biologist called Lorili, who is attempting to explain certain baffling similarities between some Terran and Venusian life forms that are irreconcilable with the established fact that Venus is a far younger planet than Earth. Formerly aligned with the ''Progressive'' activists back on Venus, Lorili admires the qualities of tenacity and determination written through Terran history. She constructs a theory of Venusians being descended from Terran ancestors. However, even allowing for the greatly exaggerated time scales that Terran science assigned to the processes of biological and planetary evolution, further research shows that there could have been no overlap. The Terrans were extinct long before life emerged on Venus. But there is a different, unexpected answer to the riddle. Lorili and Kyal will have to fight for their theory - and their lives.
©2007 James P. Hogan (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I no longer read 5 star reviews, having found they are rarely critical examinations of the story. Some "reviews", especially on Amazon, are very long and look like high school book reports. I don't read those either. And a lot of reviews say more about the reviewer than what is being reviewed. e.g. criticizing "1984" for not having a happy ending.
This is not a glowing 5 stars review, is reasonably concise, and hits the main points, which means it's probably a better-than-average review.
Some criticize this story because the ending is easily guessed. While true, this totally misses the point. Hogan's desire here is to express his views of the human condition. (I can see the beginnings of this in his "giants" series, written by a much younger and more optimistic Hogan.) Here, he accomplishes this by constructing outsiders (the Venusians) who explore and try to understand a future unpopulated earth. Normally I would greet such an attempt with a smirky "Oh no.". However, I find Hogan to have been a very intelligent and keen observer. So I think his tale is not just worth reading, but also worth thinking about.
I like the way Hogan constructs and then logically analyzes and solves mysteries. Even if some are easily guessed at, it's a style of writing that holds my attention and is more palatable to me than the "horrific conflict" schtick that many sci-fi writers use nowadays.
Hogan became very knowlegable in multiple disciplines including physics, biology, and computer technology. And he does a good job of weaving lots of good sciencey stuff into his stories. My kind of story! On the other hand, inexplicably, Hogan promotes naive Velikovskian ideas in this story. Whatever his reason was for doing this, science trained readers may react violently to this outrageous blasphemy. Subtract 0.65 stars.
Narrator warning: he uses a British accent which sounds snooty. I find it to be bloody irritating and incongruous with the story. Subtract 0.7 stars. If people in the future will sound like British aristocrats, we ought to just start WWIII and end it all right now.
Incidently I also like his "Giants" series, even though the main character is a chain-smoking
alcoholic. Well, nobody's perfect.
RIP James P. Hogan, 1941 - 2010. He was a better-than-average science fiction writer. And he cared about us enough to write this story.
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