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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Half Life

Copyright 1999 by Hal Clement

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (3/5)

I first read this in September 2000 and most recently on the 18th March 2002

Two hundred years in the future, civilisation is collapsing and humanity can see its own extinction looming. Virulent new diseases and mutations of old diseases arising at a vastly accelerated rate. They decimate populations across the world. Life expectancy is now down to the low twenties.

It is clear that soon, life expectancy may drop too low for society to maintain its battle against this epidemic of epidemics, or indeed to sustain itself at all.

Scientific discovery has become so important that it has been organised along military lines. not to restrict information flow, but to guarantee that speculations and theories are correctly and completely explored and evaluated.

In a desperate attempt to better understand the mechanism of life, a spacecraft is sent to Titan, now viewed as the only other body in the Solar System likely to support life. Their mission: to further human knowledge, to find life if it exists and to attempt to identify the root causes of the calamity overwhelming Earth.

A crew of fifty set off. By the time of their arrival at Titan, only twenty-one remain alive. Chief among the survivors are Colonel Arthur Goodall, Maria Collos and Gene Belview.

Will these few brave but dying souls be able, in the short time left, to find anything on Titan that may help to save the humanity?

Titan is becoming almost as popular as Mars, it seems. But if Hal Clement, the Hal Clement, wants to use Titan that's fine by me. I read "Mission Of Gravity" when I was a teenager and Hal has a free pass from me to do whatever he wants with any solar body.

This is a gripping, original novel. Not a book for hypochondriacs, though.

Loaded on the 10th April 2002.
Cover of Half Life