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New Earth (The Grand Tour) by Ben Bova
Cover Artist: John Harris
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765330185
Date: 16 July 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Earth is near an environmental crisis when an earthlike world is discovered. A series of missions to explore this world are planned and the first one is launched. The planet is eighty years away, so when the first mission arrives, they plan to prepare for the next missions. The follow up missions were never launched. The money was always allocated to some other reclamation project.

When they send robots down to take some samples and get readings from a world eerily similar to earth, the robots stop working. This leads the crew to visit the surface themselves. They find the alien inhabitants of the world, who are human. Was it parallel development, or had humans gotten to this world somehow?

Jorden Kell heads the team of scientists and specialists that are to prepare for future missions and study this new world. He isn't a scientist; he is a diplomat. His goal was as much to escape Earth as it was to explore a new world. His skills were not expected to be useful. It turns out they may be very important as the truth about the people they find on New Earth comes to light. The team fractures over how they are proceeding and if they are too trusting. In the end the team must decide the fate of not only their world, but many others as well.

There were many paths this novel could have taken. Those many possibilities kept me from being completely unsure of how the major problem was going to be resolved. The truth, while not a total surprise, allows for each member of the team to choose a path they are happy with without jeopardizing their identities.

This is a fairly straightforward space adventure. Team goes to another planet. They make a discovery of major importance. There is internal strife. They come to a decision. Future of Humanity saved. Most people have read this basic story. Some authors just tell the story a little better than others.

I enjoyed this novel. Bova maintained the tension without overdoing it. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it was good. Not every novel needs to be so different from everything else that is out there. Sometimes readers want a story they are familiar with and can just go along for the ride. This is that kind of novel.

Ben Bova has been writing for over forty years and has published over a hundred novels. His works cover science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. This novel is a return to exploratory space fiction. The mystery surrounding New Earth reminded me a bit of Jack McDevitt's Academy Series. There were some similarities to Wildcatter by Dave Duncan as well.

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