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Sunstorm (A Time Odyssey, Book 2) by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter
Review by Ernest Lilley
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 034545250X
Date: 29 March, 2005 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The second book in the Clarke/Baxter Time Odyssey series is every bit as good as the first, which was excellent, but in completely different ways.

In the first book, samplings of humans from different era's all suddenly find themselves on a temporal patchwork Earth thrown together by the roll of some vast die. A conflict shapes up in the Asian desert where forces led by Genghis Khan meet British soldiers (Kipling is along for the ride) in Constantinople and the dogs of war are indeed loosed.

At the end of that book, one of the main characters, a UN observer, finds herself transported back to the world she was snatched from, though deposited in her London flat rather than the Afghanistan battlefield she had left from. She's a bit dazed by it all and tries to figure it out while events unfold around her.

The sun is acting a bit odd it turns out, and the only person who has a clue is an erratic astrophysicist on the other side of the moon. He's a genius with a tenuous connection to humanity, but fortunately for us his grip on the inner workings of the sun is solid. Unfortunately, what he realizes is that in a matter of months, or a few short years at most, the sun will flare up with such intensity that all life on Earth will be wiped out. Neatly sterilized by some cosmic hand.

But you know, Brits may go out in the noonday sun, to the amusement of the natives, but that doesn't mean they're crazy. If things get too hot, they can always unfurl that classic bit of Britishness...the umbrella.

And so it is with the oncoming sunstorm. Perhaps we can't stop it from coming, but perhaps we can shelter the Earth from the storm with the most massive space project humanity has ever considered, let alone embarked upon. Completely escaping the sun's wrath may be too much to ask for, but just surviving it might be enough to ask for.

Throughout it all we come to terms with the notion that the universe may be a hostile place and somebody might be out there waging war against us on a really big scale. Fortunately for us, we appear to have allies as well, or at least conflicted parties to the attempt to wipe us out.

I'm really looking forward to the next, and one assumes final, installment in this series, and wondering if we'll take the fight to the stars.

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