Thursday, July 15, 2010

BOOKS: Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan

News around the net yesterday included the sad news that James P. Hogan has passed away. I was a big fan of Hogan's Giants sequence of books, especially the first three books, starting with the brilliant Inherit the Stars.

Inherit the Stars is, for now, a free download at the Baen Library. You can get it here. I don't know how long it will be free, but given the presence of the Baen Free Library, it might be for awhile. Incidentally, the Baen Free Library is a great idea. It offers many first books in series and, like with drugs, once you're hooked, Baen expects you to pony up for the remaining books in the series. If you have the slightest inclination towards science fiction, then they will succeed with this book.

What's the book about? Imagine you are amongst the first astronauts to step out onto the moon. You go exploring about and find ... a corpse in a spacesuit. A spacesuit unlike any worn by the new lunar residents. It turns out that the corpse is TENS of thousands of years old!

From there, things get REALLY interesting. The origins of man and of the moon get included in a first-contact novel that is just chock-full of ideas. In some ways, Hogan was the fore-runner of Robert Sawyer, who's the current 'idea' guy amongst SF writers. Hogan continued this whole process for two more books in an original trilogy and then added two books much later that were not quite as successful, but remain recommended to this day.

So vivid was my memory of this book that I remembered the cover of the original Del Rey release when years later I watched the final scene the movie Space Cowboys. "Charlie," I murmured.

Rest in peace, James. Your work will be everlasting.

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