HEAVEN’S SHADOW

HEAVEN’S SHADOW

by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt

Ace Books

reviewed by  David Bischoff

Sometime in the early 50’s Arthur C. Clarke wrote a story that appeared in WORLDS OF IF. In the story a huge spacecraft is discovered in our Solar System, approaching Earth. In the 1970’s, not far from his triumphant work with Stanley Kubrick on 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY, Clarke expanded the idea into a novel called RENDEVOUS WITH RAMA. A very High Concept indeed, and fraught with mystery. What is in this huge ship, ask Earth’s spacemen of the future. Let’s go check it out!

In 1981, Thomas F. Monteleone and I borrowed the idea — and populated the Big Dumb Object (thanks Greg Benford) with dinosaurs for DAY OF THE DRAGONSTAR, the first of a trilogy. Now, after many Big Dumb Objects in science fiction, we’ve got something special. Here’s a Big Dumb Object coming toward Earth very similar to the one in RAMA, in our very near future. But the astronauts who go out to check it out discover not dinos inside but…

LOST! And to good effect. LOST, of course, is the epic TV series taking a TWILIGHT ZONE sort of concept and stretching it season after season. It created a fascinating web of plots and characters with mystery after mystery begging answers… finally choosing to melt into an ooze of emotionally satisfying resolution for all the characters, but few satisfying answers to the puzzle posed by the plot.

HEAVEN’S SHADOW is the name of the first of a three book series by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt. It’s a convincing near-future novel (particularly in the astronautics division) that slowly steers us from Tom Clancy air space, through Clarke and LOST, straight into a series of events that read like a superb novelization of an excellent television series.

Oh yes, and with a fascinating detour through Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS.
You see, what our heroes find on the Keanu (name of Big Dumb Object) are resurrections of dead loved ones.

The most fun for me was that for all the high tech and start of the art terminology, this book eventually becomes a wonderful old fashioned science fiction adventure with an SF theme ringing back far before Arthur C. Clarke.
HEAVEN’S GATE is a page turning SF thriller of the best kind. Engrossing, stimulating — and with an ending that promises greater mysteries and surprises to come.

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