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Death Wave by Ben Bova {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Death Wave by Ben Bova is definitely a dark book.  The setting is the near future Earth, where climate change has rewritten the map of the planet’s shorelines, causing waves of refugees to seek shelter inland, while improvements in robotics have eliminated countless jobs.  The good news is that humanity has united and begun to establish colonies within our own solar system and has managed to send explorers to a planet in a nearby system ….. where they have encountered a New Earth, created by alien machines and somehow populated with humans … or so they would like us to think.  But since the aliens are providing humans with new technologies and seem friendly, much of our population is willing to look the other way and profit by our apparent good fortune.

The crisis of the book is that a wave of gamma radiation is hurtling through space toward Earth, scheduled to arrive in two thousand years.  Naturally, human rulers are not too quick to take action, even when they find out that other intelligent species are closer to the edge of the titular death wave.  Leaving our intrepid main characters to make the difficult decision about what to do with their knowledge …. and compassion.

Death Wave by Ben Bova {Just Hatched}

Death Wave by Ben Bova (Star Quest #2)
Published by Tor Books on November 17, 2015
Genres: Sci-fi
Page Length: 416 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Six-time Hugo Award winner Ben Bova chronicles the saga of humankind’s expansion beyond the solar system

In Ben Bova’s previous novel New Earth, Jordan Kell led the first human mission beyond the solar system. They discovered the ruins of an ancient alien civilization. But one alien AI survived, and it revealed to Jordan Kell that an explosion in the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy has created a wave of deadly radiation, expanding out from the core toward Earth. Unless the human race acts to save itself, all life on Earth will be wiped out.

When Kell and his team return to Earth, many years after their departure, they find that their world has changed almost beyond recognition. Not only has a second wave of greenhouse flooding caused sea levels to rise, but society has been changed by the consequences of the climate shift. Few people want to face Jordan Kell’s news. He must convince Earth’s new rulers that the human race is in danger of extinction unless it acts to forestall the death wave coming from the galaxy’s heart.

2 Stars

How is the writing style?

The book is very choppy, with short chapters that shift perspective between the average Joe on the street, to our returning astronaut and his wife, to the politicians venally trying to maintain control and power over humanity.  The reader never really gets to settle into a location before dashing off again.  It feels more like a screenplay at times than a novel.

General tone of the beginning

At a quarter of the way through the book, the characters all seem two-dimensional and focused narrowly on their own agendas.  Even our two heroes, the returning astronaut and his alien wife, have not captured my interest.  They seem cold and remote even as they try to drum up support for saving other intelligent races from the death wave, in part because they show little concern for the fact that humanity may well extinguish itself through continued climate shifts.  I can understand why the alien might not have empathy for Earth, but I expected the astronaut to understand the plight of his own people and why they might need help averting their own extinction before rushing off to help others.

Setting, genre, etc?

This is part political thriller and part science fiction.  A burgeoning population is largely unemployed and displaced by a second wave of climate change disasters.  When new technologies are introduced to the human race, it is an open question how they will be used … and to help whom.


  1. My current read, leave me alone! (~5 stars)
  2. Reading in the near future *hides from TBR pile glare* (~4 stars)
  3. Hoping to get back to eventually (~3 stars)
  4. Probably not getting back to but someone else will like it (~2 stars)
  5. Don’t really want to push this copy on anyone else (~1 star)

I have to give this one 2 stars, hoping that fans of the of the Star Quest trilogy or the Grand Tour series will enjoy this addition.  Having missed the character development and world building that – I hope – takes place in the first book, I simply found this one to be very depressing.

Have you read this one yet? Are you inclined to check it out?

Death Wave by Ben Bova

© 2016, Barbara. All rights reserved.

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