Earth is the latest science fiction novel from multiple Hugo Award winner Ben Bova, author of Apes and Angels and Survival
A wave of lethal gamma radiation is expanding from the core of the Milky Way galaxy at the speed of light, killing everything in its path. The countdown to when the death wave will reach Earth and the rest of the solar system is at two thousand years.
Humans were helped by the Predecessors, who provided shielding generators that can protect the solar system. In return, the Predecessors asked humankind's help to save other intelligent species that are in danger of being annihilated.
But what of Earth? With the Death Wave no longer a threat to humanity, humans have spread out and colonized all the worlds of the solar system. The technology of the Predecessors has made Earth a paradise, at least on the surface. But a policy of exiling discontented young people to the outer planets and asteroid mines has led to a deep divide between the new worlds and the homeworld, and those tensions are about to explode into open war.
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Bova's Grand Tour series shows its age in this 22nd installment (after 2013's New Earth); the vision of the future is dated, the prose is tepid, and the plot, which centers on an average person caught up in a criminal conspiracy, is old hat. After a race of intelligent machines known as the Predecessors warned that a Death Wave was approaching Earth, humans devised a way to survive and warned 63 intelligent alien species of the threat. The human Interplanetary Council is now divided between those who wish to leave those other life forms alone and those, led by Council President Harold Balsam, who wish to rule them through an interstellar empire. Astronomer Trayvon Williamson, the sole survivor of a mapping mission, has just been revived after almost 400 years in suspended animation, and he ends up in the middle of the tensions after witnessing a death on Jupiter that he believes was murder. Bova's vision of social and technological advances are uninspired, and characters without much depth don't help. Only longtime fans of the series are likely to stick it out through this chapter.