It started the night Geena and Henry broke up.
What was that strange light in the sky? A new star? A comet?
Neither. It was the death of Venus.
As if to commemorate the end of NASA's golden couple, our neighbor planet exploded into a brilliant cloud of dust and debris, showering the Earth with radiation and bizarre particles as big as bacteriawiping out all the crops and half the life in the oceans, frying the ozone layer, forcing survivors to wear protective suits on city streets.
Days later, a few specks of moon rock kicked up from the last Apollo mission fell upon a lava crag in Scotland. That was all it took. The ground itself began to shimmer, forming pools of luminous, almost liquid dust. Pools that grow larger every day, as the cultists of Infinite Egress drum and chant with apocalyptic joy...
So begins Stephen Baxter's most ambitious, most exciting, and ultimately most fascinating novel: Moonseed, the story of a menace that falls to Earth from an unimaginably distant past, pushing us to the brink of an extinction event unparalleled in our planet's history.
For what has demolished Venus, and now threatens Earth itself, is part machine, part life form: a ten-dimensional superstring nanovirus that literally eats rock, transforming it into liquid, and then into molecule-size black holes that devour the very fabric of space time.
Feasting on Edinburgh's primeval basalt, Moonseed is steadily eating its way toward Earth's core. The death toll rises by the hour as buildings collapse into streets that flow like water; as hundred-foot tsunamis obliterate Seattle and Vancouver; as volcanoes sprout like weeds across the planet's quickly decaying mantle.
NASA "rock-jockey" Henry Meacher and his Japanese colleague, Blue, race to cut off the virus and save what is left of the Earth. Meanwhile Henry's ex, Geena, straps in with a Russian cosmonaut for a daredevil Moon voyage, ultimately reuniting with Henry and searching for the lunar ice deposits that might make possible the greatest evacuation since Noah braved the Flood.
And a mother and her young son clamber for the last solid ground in the liquefying Scottish Highlands, under the baleful stars of a dying universe...
Audacious beyond comparison, grand in conception, and gripping in execution, Moonseed is the first modern novel to do justice to the awesome terror and promise implicit in quantum physics. Like all of Baxter's work, it blazes new paths from which science fiction will surely follow in the years to come, and becomes required reading for anyone wishing to understand the awesome promiseand threatrevealed by modern science.
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Stephen Baxter, the much-lauded author of Voyage and Titan, has been praised as a sci-fi writer who gets the science right. This rigor and research are clearly evident in Moonseed, a tale with high-energy physics and space-travel technology in starring roles. It's Baxter's boyish enthusiasm for science--especially space travel--that makes Moonseed so involving.
A world-class disaster epic worthy of any Saturday matinee, Moonseed opens with the spectacular, explosive death of Venus, an event requiring energy a thousand billion times the world's nuclear arsenal. As the radioactive blast from the late Venus reaches Earth, scientists scramble to attribute a cause, with massless black holes and elementary particles the size of bacteria pointing towards some sort of superstring as the smoking gun. The pace quickens when the substance that may have caused the demise of Venus is accidentally introduced to Earth. This substance, dubbed moonseed, acts as a geological lubricant: processes that normally take millions of years occur in mere months with moonseed in the picture. Once Scotland and the state of Washington get gobbled up by this rock-eating, 10th-dimensional nano-lifeform, all hell breaks loose and the search turns towards finding safe refuge for humanity on the Moon. The book's second half is a seat-of-your-pants, what-if exploration of space travel and terraforming.
An over-the-top doomsday yarn by some measures, Moonseed keeps your feet on the ground with good science, good characters, and a good story. --Paul HughesAbout the Author:
Stephen Baxter is a trained engineer with degrees from Cambridge and Southampton Universities. In his research for Voyage , Baxter visited NASA launch centers, viewed a shuttle launch and interviewed both a NASA mission controller and an astronaut. He also conducted extensive research into the history of NASA, scientific studies of Mars and astronauts and other key players.
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