cover image Lodestar


Michael Flynn. Tor Books, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86137-7

An asteroid threatens to stomp the glitzy high-tech Earth of the 21st century into so much interstellar road kill in this sturdy follow-up to Flynn's Firestar and Rogue Star. Flynn populates his brave new world with a wide array of characters. There's cripped Billie Whistle, who earns her living through virtual shady deals; Leland Hobart, the African-American Nobel candidate who remains just this side of a major breakthrough in semi-conductor technology; and spunky, sexy Jacinta Rosario, space cadet at the Glenn Academy. Of greatest interest, though, is Mariesa van Huyten. The heiress and former CEO is haunted by the fear of asteroids and will personally spend millions to finance the ""Skywatch"" group and its planetary defense system. Although van Huyten suffers from obsessesion, her fear isn't misplaced: a satellite dispatched to observe an incoming asteroid is destroyed once it watches the rock changing its trajectory, apparently at will. While Flynn intertwines his main narrative line with tales of corporate and political intrigue, the novel ends with the news that an asteroid is definitely on a collision course with Earth. Impact will occur within the next six years. Flynn's fans will enjoy this well-crafted outing, and can rest assured that the story's big questions (Who is lobbing these rocks at Earth? And why?) leave plenty of room for a sequel. (Mar.)