This book follows the story of two families as they journey from their homes to a distant star. One family from Earth, a story told over several generations. One family from a world Humans will call Tiber, a family formed by bonds of comradery, friendship and later mating.
Earth: A world brought together in an epic race to the moon and later beyond after receiving a message from Alpha Centauri from a civilisation that explored the stars thousands of years ago.
Tiber: A world grasping at interstellar straws in the face of certain future doom.
Flipping between different eras, worlds and generations. Encounter with Tiber explores what could have been, in terms of humanity heading into space (Technological development, national rivalries, Commercial Space based operations etc...), as well as themes of sentience, slavery, first encounter morality and more.
This novel is one of my all time favourites, as it combines realistic ideas of space science/orbital mechanics with a great story that has an edge of the fantastical about it.
An excellent SF writer and an astronaut join forces to write a novel. While you might think that this is merely a cash-in on each other's names, the novel is, in fact, very good. A believeable tale about one species trying to find a new home, and another (us) trying to find the first. The story is realistic, with Buzz Aldrin's experience in aeronautics bringing all the required techno stuff. While the pair are prone to info-dumping, this in no way mars the story. However, I don't think that there is any room for a sequel, and if they did squeeze one in, it wouldn't be anything compared to its predessecor. Once this is available again, buy it.
Very well-constructed integration of science-fiction, made as realistic as a trained astronaut can get it, with stirring epic story of lost tribes and civilisations destroyed by powerful disasters. The plot machinations are down to the fallibilities of characters, who are all described and developed with realism in mind. Best of all it's tied into an Earth history that seems... tangible. If you don't like falling out of the fantasy because of holes in the plot, this may be for you. It's fascinating in a 2001 sort of way, but also sad and sort of moving.
I bought this book a few years ago while in the USA, just on impulse and because (if I'm honest) it had "Buzz Aldrin" in big letters on the front. I was expecting something a bit timid and cliched, but was pleasantly surprised to find a well written, pacy and powerful story. Well recommended.
I very rarely read fiction of any sort as I tend to find authors can be inept at suspending disbelief. I often think I'm wasting my time reading such works since there are are so many factual books that are more incredible than any work of fiction. "Encounter with Tiber" does not fall into this trap. It is written without cliche and never patronises the reader, whatever their level of scientific knowledge. And yet it is enthraling, eloquant and gets the adrenalin flowing. One special aspect of the book is how Buzz Aldrin has managed to explain his (and possibly NASA's) ideas about how space exploration should continue in the future in a way that is understandable an informative. My only critisim is that I'm still waiting for a follow-up!!
A ripping yarn set in the near future. The authors have concocted a believable first contact scenario and followed it through with an intelligent and often moving account of a human destiny entwined with that of another species. It is a pleasure to read on such a subject without experiencing a dissapointing sensationalist approach. It is the characters, both human and alien that make the story so compelling. John Barnes is a respected author of quality science fiction, and when Buzz Aldrin writes on matters space, well, you'd better take note. I would dearly welcome a sequel!
Of course Buzz is up there with Neal (or was!) in the hero stakes ("Nothing beats an astronaut"), but i din't realise how well-educated and downright brainy these old-school astronauts were/are. I guess if it all becomes tourism-driven (Virgin flights to space stations) and media-driven ('Big Brother' trips to Mars), we can kiss goodbye to experts in space, though i suppose the pilots and scientists will still go when they can afford it! I didn't expect this to be much good, but it was excellent. Enjoyed it a lot. Not quite like any other science fiction i've read. Bit of an 'information dump' as one reviewer put it, but not too bad (i've read worse) and this was interesting information, the sort you could only get from a veteran astronaut. Great to see it through the eyes of one who's 'been there'. Surprisingly inventive plot and characterisation. A good and engaging read. Not sure about the 'humanoid' aliens though (what possible justification can there be for 2 legs 2 arms etc?). Illustrations are kind of cute, but unecessary, but i liked it. Reminded me a little of Fred Pohl's "Gateway" (a masterpiece), not in the same league literary speaking, but the same realistic view of space travel ('sitting in a tin can...'). Will look at for any other stories by Buzz, though i suspect this one works so well because it is directly from his experience, and his unique insight; so probably no point in re-stating it in another book. Still, how many of us have a toy named after us!!! (B. Lightyear!). GO Buzz - To Infinity and Beyond!!
It must be getting on for fifteen years since I chanced upon Encounter with Tiber, but it is another book I revisit quite often. Sometimes I reread the whole thing, but other times just dip into one or other of the story threads.
Once you are familiar with the whole story, this book lends itself to this kind of sampling. It contains a number of separate but linked accounts, each following a particular main character. Some of these threads are located back in our prehistory, describing the context for alien visitation of planet Earth. Some span the future of the next hundred or so years, when humans are themselves starting to cautiously embark into first interplanetary, and then interstellar space. Other parts are in today's world, in which the space programs of various nations, and various wealthy individuals, struggle to make headway off the surface of our home world.
Inevitably some of the dates have been and gone without humanity achieving the technological targets Aldrin and Barnes set out. Of itself, that no more detracts from the story than the absence of hover boards and flying cars does in 2015! But there is a certain poignancy in the way we have collectively failed to accomplish tasks which Aldrin thought achievable back in the 1990s. His view was apparently over-optimistic, for all that it was based on an intimate knowledge of the state of space technology then.
As other reviewers have noted, there is a lot of science in with the fiction. I appreciated this, and felt it gave a sound sense of credibility to the story. The authors assume that you want to be educated, or at very least reminded of your education, not just simply entertained.
Ultimately, Encounter with Tiber is a hopeful book, and one which affirms a positive view of life. Realism is present - things go wrong, people (and aliens) make mistakes and do bad things - but these are presented against an optimistic view of history rather than a pessimistic one. Courage, self-sacrifice and loyalty are universal virtues - they do not guarantee success, but they mitigate the worst effects of failure, and enrich the journey regardless of the outcome.
Another book - another world - which I shall dip back into on a regular basis.
I am a big fan of SciFi fiction but have a hard time finding good 'read'. I bought this book in a small shop while on vacation. I did not expect much, but was captivated. It is very well written, excellent plot, that left me begging for more. This book is a must! I've just ordered a second copy (i have lost my old one).
I bought this for the holidays, and I paid £8+ for it a few weeks ago; now it is under £3. It deserves five stars, and I'd say the original price was only a bad deal in the light of the reduced price. It is a 2013 edition of a book from 1996, and at the reduced price don't hesitate to snap it up.
I hope Buzz sees a decent slice of that £8+ I paid.