In the last volume of the parable of Earth’s destruction and humanity’s doomed flight from it, Mariane O’Hara frantically records the lives of her family and contemporaries when most of the earth’s history and literature is wiped out from computer banks.
Nebula Award-winner Haldeman (The Hemingway Hoax) concludes his Worlds trilogy with this smooth, sophisticated novel of interstellar travel. With the earth a war-blasted ruin, civilization’s last outposts are the orbital habitats known as Worlds. From one of these, New New York, the starship New home sets out for an earth-like planet in the Epsilon Eridani system. It carries thousands of colonists, including Marianne O’Hara (the resilient heroine of the previous volumes) and her extended marriage unit (or “line”) of John, Daniel and Evelyn. When Newhome is a year out, a rogue radio transmission scrambles their computer data, ranging from history and literature to physics and engineering, and communication from New New York ceases; perhaps this World has been annihilated. The colonists must press on for Epsilon, recovering whatever data they can and coping with further challenges, among them a crop blight and a persuasive new shipboard religion. Meanwhile O’Hara and her spouses endure more private tragedies. Haldeman shows his strengths here: the workings of Newhome are believably complex, the novel’s scientific background is neither strained nor especially complicated, and the reader’s attention is focused on O’Hara’s character, her inner life and her interpersonal relationships. Although the plot takes a sudden and unfortunate turn at the very end, Haldeman offers an appealing, humanistic finish to this acclaimed series.
Written in the form of a diary, these are the reflections of a remarkable woman on the circumstances of her life aboard “New Home,” a traveling space station that represents the last remnants of humanity bound for an uncertain destination. This conclusion to the “Worlds” trilogy (Worlds, LJ 3/15/81; Worlds Apart, LJ 9/15/83) demonstrates Haldeman at his peak, an accomplished envisioner of the distant future. Unlike many technologically oriented sf adventures, this one features memorable characters and a well-integrated plot. Purchase where the author has a following or where hard sf is popular.