DARK AS DAY by Charles Sheffield
TOR, March 2002
Thirty years ago, the Belt Wars destroyed much of humanity. Now, humanity is digging its way out of the rubble, building new bases, reclaiming Mars and Earth from the destruction of war, and creating new and promising innovations in science and technology. Researcher Alex Ligon expects the power of the new computer will allow his predictive models to show where humanity is heading. When they tell him that humanity will be eliminated in less than a hundred years, he is shocked. Puzzle master Rustum (Bat) Battachariya thinks that a hundred years is optimistic. The rumored doomsday weapon from the war has never been found. Unless it is, Bat fears that humanity's destruction can come at any moment.
The arrival of a signal from non-human space sends the protagonists together. For Alex, alien intelligence may be the way out of the destruction his models show. For Bat, the alien message is an irresistable puzzle. Yet there are other intelligences at work--both living, dead, and computer. Humanity must survive the coming weeks if it is to have a chance to learn what secrets the alien message holds.
Author Charles Sheffield (see all BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) brings a realistic touch to the science in this science fiction novel. The SETI sequences, in particular, ring true while still being entertaining. His descriptions of the quirky characters who make up the plot is also enjoyable. I would have liked to see the salvation of the human species come from something other than blind luck but otherwise, DARK AS DAY is a powerful and enjoyable page turner.
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