cover image Heaven's Shadow

Heaven's Shadow

David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt. Ace, $25.96 (416p) ISBN 978-0-441-02033-1

This slick space opera trilogy starter sets up an interesting situation but never quite brings it to life. Rival expeditions from the U.S. and a Russia%E2%80%93India%E2%80%93Brazil coalition land on a planetoid and discover it's actually an ancient interstellar space ship. Astronauts moving through the ship reawaken machines that alter the environment in strange and dangerous ways and resurrect dead people the explorers loved or hated. The characters attempt to decipher the aliens' purpose while struggling to survive in increasingly hostile surroundings. Meanwhile, back on Earth, NASA administrators try to monitor the situation while fending off political meddling and miscommunications. Both authors are experienced scriptwriters who are better at inventing dramatic spectacles than finding fresh things to say about people. Since the book has already been optioned by Warner Bros., readers may want to wait for flashy CGI special effects to balance out the limp characterization. (July)