One of the things I like about a really good science fiction novel is that it never seems to go out of style and doesn’t feel outdated, even if times have obviously changed since the story was first written.
One example that comes to mind is Eon, one of my all time favorite science fiction books. Penned by Greg Bear back in the early 80’s, the novel was nominated for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve read this book many times and I think a lot of sci-fi fans would like it as well – even if they aren’t necessarily acquainted with Bear and his work.
Now, keep in mind this article isn’t a review of Eon, but rather, more of a recommendation and rough synopsis.
The premise of the book? It is 2005 and the USSR and US are on the verge of nuclear war. The two superpowers are distracted, however, by a giant asteroid measuring 290 km long that abruptly appears and drops into orbit around Earth.
Upon closer examination, it appears as if the asteroid is nearly identical to the Junos asteroid – which resides in our solar system’s asteroid belt.
Numerous countries around the world vie to lay claim to the asteroid, but the US and NATO allied nations are the first to arrive.
The asteroid is dubbed The Stone by the Americans, but is referred to as The Potato in Russian and Whale in Mandarin. In any event, the story really starts to take off when astronauts discover the asteroid is hollowed out and divided into seven chambers. Advanced technology has been used to terraform and create massive cities in the second and third chamber, while asteroid’s interior is equipped with artificial gravity.
Explorers later determine the asteroid cities were hollowed out by humans living some 1200 years in the future, having been constructed after a cataclysmic event known as “The Death” – a nuclear war in 2005 between the US and the USSR that nearly destroyed all of civilization.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but it’s at this point where the reader starts to get the idea that the asteroid was perhaps sent back in time to right before The Death in the hopes of averting a nuclear disaster which practically destroyed Earth.
The most interesting part? On further exploration, the seventh chamber of The Stone was found to be larger inside than out, leading to the discovery of The Way (Eon is Bear’s first book in The Way series). Again, without giving too much of the book away, there are some amazing and very original ideas in Eon.
And yes, the book eventually clarifies exactly what happened to the humans who previously inhabited The Stone in its past – which may have been built to avert one war, but possibly had a hand in another. If you want a good book to curl up for the weekend you can pick up Eon in digital format via Amazon, or buy it in most bookstores.