cover image To Fear the Light

To Fear the Light

Ben Bova. Tor Books, $21.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85449-2

This weak sequel to the authors' To Save the Sun tries to invoke the look and feel of old-time science fiction. Adela de Montgarde, creator of the prequel's eponymous project, is revived after 200 years of ``cryosleep'' to find that her son Eric is emperor of an intergalactic empire that has been rendered obsolete by ``instantaneous communication'' (which is a recurrent mantra of today's hard SF). Meanwhile, a man calling himself ``Jephthah'' disseminates hateful, chauvinistic propaganda through the increasingly balkanized human colonies. He targets first the alien Sarpans (who assisted on the project to save the dying Sun) and then another, apparently more primitive, alien race. There is a curious subplot about Aborigines and the need of their allegedly homogeneous society to maintain old ways. Billy Woorunmarra's attempt at an ethereal form of multiculturalism is, however, undermined by being presented with the same presumptuous narrative voice as the rest of the novel. There is little doubt where the authors' politically correct sympathies lie-the characters are more mouthpieces than beings-and the renderings, especially of Jephthah, make pedestrian several scenes that should have been interesting. It must be granted that the two authors have melded their voices well: the narrative has a single, strident tone. (Nov.)