Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan

inherit the starsPublished: 1978

Genre: science fiction

Length: 214 pages

Setting: near future Earth and nearby planets

Interest: It’s a random book I picked off my Kindle. You can read it online at Baen books.

Summary: Victor Hunt is head of Theoretical Studies at the Metadyne Nucleonic Instrument Company, which means he gets to research whatever he finds interesting. Unfortunately, he’s getting a little bored until the UNSA calls him into a new project. A human skeleton in a space suit has been found on the moon and dated to 50,000 years ago. Hunt is brought in to use a new, noninvasive scope to look at the remains. Eventually, he is set up as the head of a unit that coordinates and facilitates the flow of data among all the researchers in the task group. They are looking into the question of where the skeleton came from and why we haven’t seen evidence of a previous civilization. Further questions are asked when a giant spaceship full of preserved ancient Earth animals and skeletons and an obviously alien race are discovered on Europa. Hunt is able to bring all the disparate lines of data into one cohesive story that fits all the data available.

Final thoughts: This book reminded me of the hopeful writing in the Golden Age of science fiction about where our space program would be in 100 years. Hogan assumed that once we got nuclear weapons, the world’s governments would realize war was futile and start using all those resources for exploring space instead. Another aspect of the book that made it seem like it was written in a different age was the fact that everyone smoked all the time. I didn’t realize how rare it’s become to have a character smoke (let alone everyone smoke) until I was reading this book and was struck by the oddity. Finally, there were very few female characters and the few women that were in the book were secretaries or assistants, not scientists.

The science is reasonable, except for some liberties taken with the source of the moon, and the scientific method is demonstrated moreso than in most books. Overall, I enjoyed the way the different hypotheses were put forth and the data collected to support or reject the hypotheses. You really got to see the way scientists work. On a side note, this is the first book in a five book series. I’m not sure I liked it enough to look for the other books.

Title comes from: A line used by one of the scientists toward the end of the book.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 68/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge


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