Inherit The Stars

by James P. Hogan
Series: Giants 1
Reviewed date: 2004 Dec 31
Rating: 3
216 pages
cover art

Explorers on the moon find a dead man in a spacesuit. Tests reveal he died 50,000 years ago. Further study determines that "Charlie" is fully human. As scientists continue to study the clues in his personal effects, two sets of data emerge. One set of incontrovertible data proves that Charlie came from Earth; another set of equally solid data proves that Charlie and his civilization lived on a different planet. This leads mankind on a system-wide scavenger hunt for additional clues as to Charlie's origin, and consequently to the origins of the human race.

Inherit the Stars is a solid science fiction book. Hogan uses plenty of hard science--so much so that it nearly overwhelms the plot. Indeed, the science relegates the characters to the background. The absence of strong characters means Inherit the Stars will never be a great book, but the strength of the scientifically valid plot makes it a good book.

My main complaint is that the solution to the apparent paradox is too easy. I spotted the solution immediately, and was disappointed that the scientists spent so long ignoring what to me seemed obvious. Surely the scientists must have read old astronomy books as children--which is where I read the theory that so neatly fits all the facts about Charlie.

Although he wraps up all the major plot points, James Hogan leaves some questions unresolved. Minor questions, true, but just enough for a sequel. And Hogan has not failed to provide: the sequels The Gentle Giants of Ganymede and Giants' Star round out the trilogy. I shall be on the lookout for them at the used bookstore.

Inherit the Stars rates a three out of five; it would have rated a four but for the lack of strong characters.

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