Book Review: Sunstorm by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter

I jumped straight into this book after finishing Time’s Eye, the first book in A Time Odyssey series. Sunstorm picks up straight where it left. Sometimes series lose their momentum or the story falls apart, but this isn’t the case here. The story holds and evolves.

Sunstorm continues pondering what lengths humanity is willing to go to survive and protect its species, but even during a major catastrophe people are people. They have self-serving motives because of politics, respect, love, fear, and religion. We, humans, aren’t logical computing machines we let our emotions, intuition, quick gain, misguided past opinion, pleasure, pain, and the rest to guide our actions. Do we deserve to exist? But more so, is it right for another species to choose annihilation as a way to protect the universe and themselves?

If you asked anyone that question, most would say no. That is a horrendous and immoral act, and any sentient being wouldn’t choose annihilation. But we, humans, do that constantly. We kill ants for invading our home. We destroy ecosystems to build highways. We pollute our lakes with cheap nicknacks. You could say “the funny old world.” It seems like we cannot take the high road as the book points out. We would do the same as the Firstborns in a heartbeat if we saw it necessary. But that doesn’t mean we have to curl up and let the annihilation happen. Every individual, species (including ants), and a group has a right to protect their life against violence and death. So the question in Sunstorm isn’t if to protect ourselves, but how to protect ourselves (and work together)?

Sunstorm is a great book. I loved it as much as the first one if not even more. The story, the characters, the setup, the tension, the pondering, everything is great. And I couldn’t wait to get back to the book. Of course, there are weaknesses, that some spots the science or the writers’ pet idea takes over the plot, but I don’t mind that. I love scientific pondering and what-if questions. And this whole series is one what-if question like a good sci-fi book should be.

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