To read the complete review visit Flamingnet.com.
I think the reviewer was quite perceptive in the few criticisms of the book. As such, I thought it was worth taking a moment to address them.
The reviewer notes that the idea of whale communication was reminiscent of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Certainly it’s true that both address the idea that whales might be intelligent and communicating with alien life. However, I came up with the idea for The Solar Sea in 1983 — three years before Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released. That said, I did meet Ray Bradbury in 1983 and he got me interested in reading Moby Dick, which in turn got me thinking about whether whales might or might not be intelligent. I also remember National Geographic articles from that time that discussed the songs of whales and what they might mean. I probably was also influenced by the Scooby-Doo episode where a scientist builds a machine to talk to dolphins. In the end, I think this is a case where both the creators of Star Trek and I were influenced by at least some of the same sources. Whether or not whales really are intelligent, I think they are wonderful animals well worth studying and I hope the book conveys some of my wonder and awe at those marvelous creatures.
The reviewer also points out that there are similarities between my book and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Again a fair point. That movie and book did have an influence on me. I mention in the book’s prologue that I started and abandoned it a couple of times. One of the reasons I did abandon it was that I felt like I was just telling a new version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, after the year 2001 came and went and we did not have a space program anything like the one presented in Stanley Kubrick’s film or Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, the idea of The Solar Sea took on new meaning for me. I started asking myself, what would it take to get us interested in seriously exploring space again? I hope the book gets you to ask that question, too!
Finally, the reviewer talks about the idea of ships rotating to produce gravity as a cliche. In this case, it’s a cliche born of physics. The idea is that the rotation creates centrifugal force that pulls objects toward the outer hull. It’s really only one of two ways that we might create artificial gravity on a space craft. The other way to produce artificial gravity is if a ship accelerates at a constant rate. However, solar sail spacecraft like the one in The Solar Sea would accelerate so slowly, that it’s unlikely they will produce any noticeable gravity. Any other means of producing gravity, such as you see in Star Trek are well beyond our current technology (and really beyond our understanding of physics!)
All of this noted, the reviewer did say the book was “very good” and gave it a nine on a scale of one to ten with ten being best. Thanks Flamingnet.com for the top choice award and some great food for thought.