New Earth (The Grand Tour)
by Ben Bova (Read by Stefan Rudnicki)
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Blackstone Audio MP3 CD ISBN/ITEM#: 9781470842499
Date: 16 July 2013 List Price $29.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ben Bova creates a utopian nearly Earth planet in New Earth. As the US astronauts travel there, will they be in time to save Earth with the new natural resources she needs so badly?
A group of twelve astronauts re-awake from 80 years of cryogenic sleep as New Earth, by Ben Bova, begins. Planet Earth is a dire situation. Earth has been through massive floods, droughts, killer storms and greenhouse climate shifts, but astronomers have found a new planet whose conditions are similar to Earth, and appropriately named it New Earth. The planet is eight light years from Earth so the World Council, the new government on Earth, makes an investment for future generations and sends an exploratory mission.
The team consists of a team leader, Jordan Kell, who is a career diplomat. The remainder include engineers, roboticists, geologists, biologist, astronomer, and one doctor. When they arrive, they are amazed at how similar planet New Earth is to Earth. They immediately send rovers to the surface, only to find that the rovers quickly lose power. A manned mission follows, and much to their surprise, they find a man. He is completely human in appearance, and welcomes them to the planet. In fact, they have a whole civilization. The explorers are not sure what to do as they expect some sort of sinister motive behind the man's kindness, but they can't find any.
Technology on planet New Earth is far above what the scientists are used to, and the aliens share their knowledge without hesitation, but something doesn't add up when the team from earth runs their own experiments. The geologists do not understand how this planet can be so much younger than Earth, but still have the advanced state of evolution they are finding, the astronomers do not understand how this planet can exist in its location in this type of solar system, and the biologists don't understand how parallel evolution could have occurred to produce alien beings so much like humans. Some of the team wants to return to Earth, and others are very happy on planet, New Earth. The division among the group leads to Jordan being removed as the team leader, but the aliens remain cooperative and willing to share all that they have with the humans.
Things back on Earth have grown even worse in years since the astronauts left. Global warming is severe and the available land on the planet has gone down due to rising seas. The population is also up to 20 billion, which adds more problems. Earth has a colony on the moon and another orbiting Saturn. New Earth follows parallel story lines with the team exploring planet New Earth and rising issues and problems at home.
Eventually, the real truth behind planet New Earth is revealed, but if I tell you that I will destroy the story. It is a great one, trust me. The scientists prepare to return to Earth to report their findings and that leads to the next novel in the series, Death Wave.
Ben Bova writes techno-SF in a way that an ordinary person can understand it, but he also ties in a great story. It is completely pleasurable to read, and does not get bogged down in details that do not add to the story. I am an engineer by trade, and I thoroughly enjoy it too. I am amazed by the technological advances and try to use my own technical knowledge to figure out how we will get there from the technology we have today. Planet New Earth has many new technologies, but they will also spoil the story, so I will hold back.
I love Ben Bova’s books and I love New Earth. I highly recommend it and I am looking forward to reading the follow-on book Death Wave.