It’s an interesting setup, one that’s been worked pretty hard in the years since Arthur C. Clarke first published The Hammer of God.
There’s an asteroid heading toward the Earth, and even though humanity has actually been preparing for this inevitability, diverting the thing is going to be a tough proposition. The strength of this story is that there are people on Earth who want the killer asteroid to hit, making the conflict a human one, rather than strictly man-vs-nature.
That’s when we also start to hit the problems with this novel. We get a rough sketch of where the bad guys are coming from, then Clarke just waves his hands and says essentially, “So anyway, they’re nuts. You get the idea.” His initial effort to humanize the crazies is abandoned and they’re just crazies.
Then there’s the radio signal from outer space. He begins to explore it, then just says, “and that made the crazies even crazier.” Not to mention that the circumstances surrounding this signal from space included humanity setting off a bomb of epic size. A tiny fraction of such a weapon would have been sufficient to solve the whole asteroid problem.
Instead, we have a plan to put a giant rocket on the planet and nudge it just enough to spare the Earth. There are problems, of course, and it’s up to the artificial intelligence of the story to come up with the completely obvious next thing to try.
The main story is interlaced with scenes that serve the same purpose as Disney’s Tomorrowland: Look how cool the future will be! It is indeed pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing.
Overall, it feels like Clarke wrote a draft to establish the story and the world it takes place in, then rather than writing the actual novel he published that. There are long, long passages of exposition. Ideas sprout but never bloom. Powerful events are described from a distance, if at all.
Mr. Clarke has done much better.
Note: if you use the above link to buy this book (or a Kindle, or a new car), I get a kickback.