Friday, July 21, 2017

Arkwright, by Allen Steele (author), Stephen Bel Davies (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

Nathan Arkwright is an aging science fiction writer with a dream.

One of the Big Four of the Golden Age of science fiction (along with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke), Arkwright wrote the Galaxy Patrol series, which became a tv show and a movie franchise. In his waning years, he wants what he's always wanted: real, manned space exploration.

He's also worried that an asteroid collision could cause another mass extinction, this time wiping out humans.

During the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, Nathan and three friends formed a club they called The League of Tomorrow. In the early 2000s, it becomes the Arkwright Foundation, Estranged from his daughter and other remaining family, he leaves his wealth to the Foundation, along with an ambitious plan for human colonization of the stars.

The story is told episodically--Nathan's granddaughter Kate, and her descendants, tell the story of the rising and falling fortunes of the Arkwright Foundation and its ambitious plans. There's family conflict as well as the building and launching of the ship, and the struggle to maintain contact with it on its journey. And the last part of the story takes place on Eos, an super-Earth lit by three red dwarf stars.

All of this could be very dry. It's not. I connected with the characters and their stories in each section. They're human and relatable, and, heck, Nathan and his friends are fans! There are some very familiar names in Nathan's section of the book.

There's also a great, big, huge, hand-wave in the Arkwright project, which is never really addressed, possibly because it can't be. That's all right. Steele is a fine storyteller, and I'm willing to grant him his hand-wave, but honestly, I had to give it some thought before I did. Some people may find it a bridge too far.

Recommended, with that caveat.

I bought this audiobook.