The Return (Voyagers) Mass Market Paperback – 3 Aug 2010
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Mr. Bova has spent the years since writing Voyagers III writing his "Grand Tour of the Solar System" series, in which he describes a future history of Earth at odds with itself - incredible technical advances on the one hand, coupled with religious fundamentalism (Muslim, Christian and you name it) on the other. In this book he attempts to merge the two series by using the "many worlds" theory of Quantum Mechanics to introduce Stoner et al. into the "Grand Tour" hustory. The attempt is not successful.
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In the previous volume, a nanotechnology plague was released into the population. The Star Brothers were spread to protect against the Horror. Then Stoner and his family flew to the stars.
In this novel, Keith Stoner has come home again from the stars with his wife and two children. But home has changed while they were gone. In fact, they seem to have slipped between timelines.
Raoul Tavalera has also come home again -- without his sweetheart Holly -- and it too has changed. His family is still there, but society has devolved into tyranny.
Angelique Dupre was born as Aretha Deevers in a tent city in Georgia. She changed her name after joining the Sisters of the Savior, a New Morality order.
In this story, twenty-two years ago, a starship entered the system and was tracked to the vicinity of Jupiter. Then it disappeared, but recently emitted messages from Earth orbit to scientists around the world. Naturally, the politicians, military chiefs and religious leaders suppressed these messages.
Keith is getting impatient with the political intransigence. His wife Jo tries to calm him down, but Keith is determined to contact leading scientists. He starts tinkering with the aurora borealis.
Raoul has recently returned from the Goddard habitat near Titan. He thought life back on Earth would be exciting, but finds it to be rather dull. The New Morality keeps interfering with his life.
Raoul finds his homecoming party to be a flop. People keep eyeing the surveillance scanners in the corners and talking low. When he takes his Mom out to the back yard, the scanners mounted on poles seem to watching them and she keeps watching them.
When Raoul asks about the Northern Lights shining overhead, nobody wants to talk about it. The police ask people to stay indoors at nights because of the emergency, but none know what the emergency is. His questions get him a free ride to a New Morality building in the west.
Raoul finds himself working for Sister Angelique. She discusses the Northern Lights with him. She mentions that the authorities fear that the public will see this expansion of the aurora as a sign of the coming of the end of the world. She wants him to help her investigate the situation.
Shortly thereafter, Raoul finds himself having a conversation with Keith in the starship. The surveillance cameras record him sitting quietly in his chair for many minutes. Angelique asks what he was doing and he tells her about Stoner.
From then on, Raoul becomes the middle man between the New Morality and Stoner. Keith appears several time near Raoul and is even recorded by the omnipresent cameras. Angelique takes Raoul to many meetings within the New Morality and with national politicians.
This tale links the Voyagers trilogy with the Planet series. But now the trilogy has a fourth volume. One wonders if the Orion stories will be linked as well.
This novel seem to conclude the Voyagers series, but maybe not the end of the Planet sequence. Leviathans of Jupiter appears to belong to that series. Read and enjoy!
Recommended for Bova fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of highly advanced technology, political intrigue, and good Samaritans.
-Arthur W. Jordin