by David Brin
Reviewed date: 2010 Jun 12
Rating: 1
678 pages
cover art

Earth is too long and Brin forgets the plot his eagerness to tell us a Very Important Story. The message that Brin hammers home is one of environmentalism: we're destroying Mother Earth and we're all gonna die! Oh, and none of that matters because there's a black hole that's eating the planet from the inside out.

Wait, what? A black hole is eating the planet from the inside out. Apparently, some crazy scientist use a cavitron to create a microscopic artificial black hole. Then he let it escape; now it's at the earth's core, getting bigger every day. In less than a year, it will swallow up the whole planet.

As stories go, that's not a bad one. The problem is, Brin is less interested in the story and more interested in showing us all facets of the gaian dystopia he's invented. So the story jumps around between more than a dozen main characters.

  • Teresa Tikhana, Captain of the space shuttle Pleiades
  • Mark, her pilot on Pleiades
  • Logan, An engineer working on tidal power generators
  • Daisy, his ex-wife
  • Claire, their daughter
  • Alex Lustig, the scientist who created the black hole
  • Jen Wolling, a Nobel laureate who invented the modern Gaia hypothesis. Grandmother of Alex Lustig
  • Remi, a gang kid who commits suicide by gang fight
  • Roland, Remi's friend, who signs up as a UNEPA soldier
  • Crat, Remi and Roland's friend, who bounces around until he becomes a citizen of Sea State
  • Nelson, a dung collector in Africa
  • Stan Goldman, a scientist of some sort, I think
  • Sepak Takraw, a PNG native, from the last tribe to make contact with the outside "Western" world

That's way too many main characters for a decent story. Plus, the real interesting part of the story is hardly explored: it turns out that Alex Lustig's black hole is harmless; the real danger is from another black hole at the center of the earth. That black hole was a weapon sent by aliens, apparently.

Oh, and the alien black hole eventually becomes sentient. Mother Earth, or Gaia, becomes a living, thinking entity. Brin leaves us with the thought that maybe the alien "weapon" is no weapon at all, but a seed sent by another sentient world, in an attempt to reproduce.

I didn't like this book very much.

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