Heaven’s Shadow, by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt

Article published on December 6, 2011.

In 2016 an object is spotted in the sky over the South Pole. It is one hundred kilometres across and heading for earth.

In 2019 two manned space crafts are racing towards the Near Earth Object, dubbed Keanu, one from the USA and one from a Brazilian-Russian-Indian coalition. Both crews want to be the first to set foot on this unknown object. The NASA team is led by Zack Stewart who has lost his wife three years previously and has left his teenage daughter, Rachel, behind on Earth to follow developments from NASA headquarters. Zack’s team manages to land first, but the coalition craft is close behind, and shortly after both landings explosions on the “NEO” injure one astronaut and push the object directly into Earth’s orbit.

Close inspection shows that the explosions were no accident. The object was pushed into Earth’s orbit on purpose, but by whom and why. And this is not the last surprise the two crews have to face. As they start the explore Keanu they come face to face with wonder upon wonder. Some of these are delightful, while others are horrific while all of them are mysterious and inexplicable. As the two crews find themselves having to work together, tough decisions will have to be made and survival is far from certain.

I am not, and never have been, very good at or very interested in science. And that is probably the reason I haven’t read a lot of science fiction either, although I do enjoy the occasional fantasy. I therefore don’t think I’m qualified to judge this book on its scientific content or to compare it with other books in this genre. I am however a reader and like to think I’m capable of recognising a good story when I read one. And this was a thrilling reading experience from the first to the last page.

Fast-paced, action packed and full of twists and turns, this book had me turning the pages at a frantic pace, desperate to find out what was going on, and how it could possibly end in anything other than disaster. I liked the way a lot of chapters start with “quotes” from online message boards on which the public reacts to what they are told about what is going on during this mission. And although I have my doubts as to whether strict adherence to rules would be disregarded with an ease as described in this book, it did make the story a lot more interesting. And to be fair, it is impossible to know how anyone would react if the events described in this book actually did happen.

I am not surprised to learn that both authors of this book are script-writers and film-producers. The chapters in this book felt a bit like scenes and the pace of the story did not leave a lot of room for in-depth character development. However, neither of these “issues” spoilt the story for me, or my reading enjoyment. I find myself slightly surprised to say that I will be keeping an eye out for parts two and three in this trilogy. I may not be a huge fan of SF but I certainly want to read them and find out how it is all going to end.

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  1. If Marleen Kennedy can give a review like this then the book MUST be worth reading. I for one will be buying it. I will be the first to admit that I do not know these authors, yet.

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