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by Ben Bova
read by Stefan Rudnicki
Grand Tour #20
2013 Blackstone Audio
9 hours 52 minutes unabridged
Genres: science fiction
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews
4 out of 5 halos
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: We’ve found another Earthlike planet, but what secrets does it hold?
The entire world is thrilled by the discovery of a new, Earthlike planet. Advance imaging shows that the planet has oceans of water and a breathable, oxygen-rich atmosphere. Eager to learn more, an exploration team is soon dispatched to explore the planet, now nicknamed New Earth.
All the explorers understand that they are essentially on a one-way mission. The trip takes 80 years each way, so even if they are able to get back to Earth, nearly 200 years will have elapsed. They will have aged only a dozen years thanks to cryonic suspension, but their friends and family will be gone, and the very society they once knew will have changed beyond recognition. The explorers are going into exile, and they know it. They are on this mission not because they were the best available but because they were expendable.
Upon landing, the team discovers something unexpected: New Earth is inhabited by a small group of intelligent creatures who look very much like human beings. Who are these people? Are they native to this world or invaders from elsewhere? While they may seem inordinately friendly to the human explorers, what are their real motivations? What do they want?
Moreover, the scientists begin to realize that this planet cannot possibly be natural. They face a startling and nearly unthinkable question: Could New Earth be an artifact?
©2013 Ben Bova (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: It’s an exciting time for planet Earth. After searching for many years a planet has finally been found that will support human life. The nations of Earth waste no time in putting together a mission to travel to this distant planet and create an initial colony. Not long after the mission is launched, however, things on Earth take a decidedly negative turn. The planet’s climate shift has finally reached a critical stage. Ice caps melt, sea-levels rise, and the world’s largest cities suddenly find themselves underwater. Now the world’s resources are needed right here at home and the follow-up mission to New Earth is scrapped. Imagine if you will: you’ve just woken up from an eighty year sleep all set to begin exploring a new planet, and the first news you hear from home is that you will never receive any additional help or supplies from them. Heck, even radio messages take five years to travel between the two worlds. The intrepid explorers are completely cut off and on their own.
Having no other option really, the group decide to carry on with their mission. Scanning the planet below they are bewildered to discover a laser beacon shining up at them from the surface of New Earth. They know the planet was thoroughly scanned and studied from Earth and it was believed there would be no intelligent life here, so where did the laser beacon come from? These travelers don’t know it yet, but this is just the first of what will prove to be many mind-boggling revelations. Everything humans thought they knew about the universe is about to change.
New Earth is another classic example of the far-reaching imagination of one of sci-fi’s masters, Ben Bova. Bova can dream up the most implausible things and then explain them in a way that makes them seem perfectly plausible. I think that’s what has always drawn me to his books, the way he can put things into layman’s terms so that they make sense. I will say this for New Earth however: if you like a lot of action and suspense then this is probably not the book for you. The book is rather slow paced and there are really no action scenes at all, rather it is a story of exploration and discovery. It is more thoughtful than intense. If that’s the kind of book you like, then don’t miss this one.
Every single Ben Bova audiobook I’ve listened to, New Earth makes it 9, was narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. That’s a good thing because Rudnicki is a fantastic narrator. If you’re a fan of Bova then you probably know that his books always feature characters from a wide variety of nationalities: North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, you name it. Besides just being a good reader, Rudnicki is able to handle the cornucopia of dialects with an ease that frankly baffles me. How can he do so many accents so accurately? And how does he keep them consistent throughout an entire novel? I’ll guess at the answers to those questions: a lot of practice, and the guy is just a natural. Anyway, New Earth is another fine example of what a truly talented narrator can do.
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Special thanks to Blackstone Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.