With their homeworld in ruins, ten thousand brave colonists set out for the stars. Among them is Marianne O'Hara - who survived a baptism of cataclysmic fire to emerge as the last hope of her doomed race. But madness, mysterious deaths and irreversible sabotage threaten their mission - propelling the crippled starship Newhome blindly toward an unimaginable future, and hurtling Marianne toward an astonishing confrontation that could mean the end or the transcendent rebirth of humankind.
Nebula Award-winner Haldeman ( The Hemingway Hoax ) concludes his Worlds trilogy with this smooth, sophisticated novel of interstellar travel. With the earth a war-blasted ruin, civilization's last outposts are the orbital habitats known as Worlds. From one of these, New New York, the starship New home sets out for an earth-like planet in the Epsilon Eridani system. It carries thousands of colonists, including Marianne O'Hara (the resilient heroine of the previous volumes) and her extended marriage unit (or ``line'') of John, Daniel and Evelyn. When Newhome is a year out, a rogue radio transmission scrambles their computer data, ranging from history and literature to physics and engineering, and communication from New New York ceases; perhaps this World has been annihilated. The colonists must press on for Epsilon, recovering whatever data they can and coping with further challenges, among them a crop blight and a persuasive new shipboard religion. Meanwhile O'Hara and her spouses endure more private tragedies. Haldeman shows his strengths here: the workings of Newhome are believably complex, the novel's scientific background is neither strained nor especially complicated, and the reader's attention is focused on O'Hara's character, her inner life and her interpersonal relationships. Although the plot takes a sudden and unfortunate turn at the very end, Haldeman offers an appealing, humanistic finish to this acclaimed series.