Top critical review
on 17 December 2016
Having read a few of Baxter's other books (Proxima, Voyage, Titan), I had high hopes for this one. But, truth be told, this is a terrible book - at least the first half of it was; that's as far as I got. The plot revolves around a lunar rock which infects and destroys terrestrial rocks in a plague-like manner, gradually chomping its way through Earth. I mean, seriously? It takes a huge amount of skill to make a story like that readable by any adult used to hard SF, and Baxter failed utterly to deploy that skill. (Oh, and I forgot to mention that Venus explodes, spewing out radiation but causing little stir other than prompting people to wear sun-block.)
It's not helped, either, by revolving around a bunch of shallow, thinly-characterized folksy "ordinary people" in Quaint Olde Edinburgh. The line "Och aye, Arthur's Seat has just sunk into a pool of magma - I'd best tell Morag to cordon off the area before teatime, hoots mon." doesn't actually appear in the book, but wouldn't be out of place.
Sorry. I liked some of Baxter's other stuff and feel mean trashing this one, but it's best avoided.