This is really a review of the series of three books. The premise is interesting - an earth suddenly reassembled from fragments of deferent epochs - ..Show More »and the writing reasonably good, but the resolution is at best unsatisfying. I'm not convinced that the central premise (the actions of the firstborn) is even that sound.
Two quibbles. First, as many have noted the contrived accents are horrible in the first book, particularly those of the Americans. Second, anti-American prejudice underscores the series. American characters are at best chauvanistic cowboys and at worst mass murderers, while the non-Americans are sensitive and enlightened. The authors matter-of-factly trumpet some questionable philosophy as an easy panacea for all the worlds ills. This sort of thing can usually be shrugged off, or may in fact appeal to many readers.
The idea of an earth reassembled in time has been explored before, notably in the excellant "October the First is Too Late" by Fred Hoyle (1966, no audio that I am aware of).
This is the second book of a series, but so little from the first book is used in this book, you really don't have to start with the first book if you..Show More » don't want.
Neither Clarke or Baxter are known for character development. The are know for Science and showing the epic size of our Universe. This book is no different from the most of what Clarke writes, so if you like Clarke you will like this. I have always been interested in our Sun and there is a lot here on the Sun. If you are not into science or the Sun then you will not want this book.
I liked the old fashioned Can Do attitude of this book. I am not sure I have the confidence in the human race to work together, as suggested here, but it was nice to dream. I also believe having one big shield instead of several small shields, may have been a little old fashioned. In the eighties we thought one big lens for Hubble was the way to go. After putting it into space and having nothing but problems with the lens, we discovered that a group of smaller lenses working together would have worked better and that is the way our big telescopes are being built today.
Some may be offended by Clarke's views on religion. If you have read Clarke before you know he hates religion and blames them for the woes of the earth. He also makes it plain here again that people who believe in a Creator are Idiots. He also uses again, the Star of Bethlehem, to represent evil. I am able to look past this, but you might not. Clarke is dead now, so he is finding out the truth.
I was a little surprised by the anti Chinese sentiment in this book. I laughed at Clarke and Baxter's, couple of attempts at sex scenes. You could certainly tell two nerds wrote them. At the beginning there is an attempt to show sympathy for a pretty person being taken serious in a group of scientist. There was more feeling shown for an AI dying then for millions of people dying, or one scientist's own daughter. One AI was even the biggest hero. Clarke believes that if everyone was educated we would not have wars. I believe it would help, but Clarke has evidently not seen what happens when a group of tenured College PHD's, don't want someone with different political views entering there departments.
I often have different views on John Lee's strange voice and his lack of doing different voices, even between genders, but I felt he fit this book well.