expansion of the 1996 novella
But public disinterest and budget cuts changed that future. Now, a half century after the first Moon landing, Jerry feels like the only one with stars in his eyes.
Then a fifty-year-old secret about the Apollo Xl mission is revealed, and he finds himself embroiled in the biggest controversy of the twenty-first century, one that will test his ability—and his willingness—to spin the truth about a conspiracy of reality-altering proportions…
The race to explore and claim the stargate quickly escalates. Two opposing camps emerge, divided over whether the stargate is an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research or a disastrous threat to national – if not planetary – security.
Especially since travel through the stargate isn’t necessarily only one way…
Meanwhile, in the depths of space a dangerous drama is unfolding. 3,000 passengers on the interstellar cruise ship Capella are trapped in an ever-shifting transdimensional space warp. For the oblivious travellers, just a few days have passed, but for those at home it’s been eleven long years. Now there is hope of a rescue if they can find where the ship will next appear, but there’s a high risk of failure – and agonizing death for all on board, including Alex’s lost uncle Gabe.
While Alex plumbs the deepening mystery of the artifacts, his ace pilot Chase joins a flotilla of spaceships in a desperate rendezvous with the Capella.
To make matters worse, efforts to prepare two planets for colonization are killing off native species, outraging people on Earth. So pilots are not exactly in demand.
But Priscilla’s ambition won’t be denied. Soon she is on the bridge of an interstellar ship, working for the corporation responsible for the terraforming. She faces bomb threats, sabotage…and a mission to a world adrift between the stars which harbours a life form unlike anything humanity has ever seen.
This is the ultimate baptism of fire.
The year is 2202. Earth has interstellar capability, and has discovered a few dead civilisations, one 'early 20th Century' one, and the signs of the highly advanced mysterious 'Monument Makers'. Global warming has the upper hand, and Earth itself seems to be entering a decline. Some see the only hope for humanity to be a fresh start on a newly terraformed planet.
Interstellar pilot Priscilla Hutchins, 'Hutch', is assigned to evacuate a team of xeno-archaeologists from Quraqua, before the terraformers start their job by melting its icecaps with nuclear explosions.
The archaeologists have just discovered that the Qurauqan civilisation had contact with the Monument Makers, and there is the possibility of at last deciphering their language. The race against time to recover enough language examples to enable a translation before they have to leave makes up the first half of the book. In the second half Hutch and some of the archaeologists use the information they have deciphered to attempt to track down the Monument Makers, and to work out why they built large right-angled monuments near now-destroyed civilisations.
So, who were the aliens? Why did they build all those great square monuments? Why did they disappear? Why is there an 8000 year cycle to alien civilisations? Finding the answers to these questions is reasonably fun. But of necessity, the ending doesn't manage to live up to its build-up, and some of the answers are telegraphed too early on. And it screams for a sequel.
The story revolves around the characters more than the technology, but even so, none of the characters feel very 'real' to me. Even when described as acting passionately -- some of them are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to discover The Truth -- they seem very dispassionate.