The concept of the destruction of earth because of an asteroid crashing into our planet can be traced back to 1933’s When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. Since then, sci fi novels and high-octane Hollywood films have used the idea for a number of cinematic thrillrides from Armageddon to Asteroid to Deep Impact.
In When Worlds Collide, Scientist Cole Hedron built two spaceships that took survivors to a second approaching planet to give humans a second chance. It’s difficult not to think Colton “Cole” Taylor, owner of earth’s largest advanced technology corporation called Stormhaven in Stormhaven Rising, isn’t an overt nod to Hedron. Taylor too wants to take survivors from earth to the moon to give humanity a second chance.
Still, Stormhaven Rising is far more complex and believable than its literary ancestor. For one matter, the science in Stormhaven is far more credible, as when earth scientists determine trying to blast the asteroid into bits won’t work and a better strategy would be to nudge the body off its present course. But can this be done in time and can the governments of the earth put aside a host of political issues to cooperate?
For example, the government of paranoid U.S. President Sylvia Hutton is obsessed with maintaining secrecy to the point of destroying civil liberties of anyone who might know the truth. The government doesn’t want Taylor to send up any spaceships without getting proper liscences. The Chinese have their own moon-based plans. The Russians and Japanese are resentful the U.S. wants to call all the shots, notably building spaceships at the International Space Station without working with their international partners. In short, how can humanity save anything if all efforts are either bogged down in politics, bureaucratic squabbles, censorship, or conflicting schemes and goals?
With all these players on the chessboard, and all the stages on earth, on the moon, and in space, there’s no shortage of characters representing the differing interests. Some are better drawn than others, especially in Taylor’s stormhaven base and in the camp of government agents surrounding the company headquarters determined to capture an astronomer who knows about the asteroid and stop any unauthorized launches. One of those characters is the amazing computer with the feminine voice, MICA. In the midst of all this drama, we do get some light moments, as when two astronauts try their level best to enjoy some anti-grav sex on a space shuttle going, where else, around the world. In other words, Craig does a good job of creating characters that signal humanity, despite its flaws, is worth saving if it can only get out of its own way.
The final chapters include a very exciting climax and a long denouement full of both optimism and foreboding. Stormhaven Rising is the first book in a series that has already resulted in two sequels published last year (Prometheus and The Dragon, Shadows in the Flame) with two more volumes scheduled for June and December 2017 (Warlords of the Night, The Orphans of Destiny). A related short story, “Ghostmaker,” is also in the pipeline.
So Stormhaven Rising, an epic on its own terms, sets the stage for an epic series in its wake. I like such series and know I’ll be exploring the sequels very soon. If this sort of sci fi is your cup of tea, you too will likely dig into this saga in short order. It’s a ride well worth taking as Craig breathes considerable fresh air into a well-established tradition.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Jan. 17, 2017 at: