In the wake of an extinction-level meteor impact, a small group of human survivors manages to leave the barren Earth and establish a new home on the moon. From Tycho Base, they’re able to observe the devastated planet and wait for a time when return will become possible. Finally, after millennia of waiting, the descendants of the original refugees travel back to a planet they’ve never known, to try to rebuild a civilisation of which they’ve never been a part. But after so much time, the question is not whether they can rebuild an old destroyed home, but whether they can learn to inhabit an alien new world – Earth.
Winner of the John W. Campbell Award for best novel, 2002
When the Order of Planetary Engineers sent Hall Davenant to Ganymede for a terraforming survey, they knew that the job on the airless, frigid Jovian moon would be tough. Changing it to resemble Earth – with fertile land, water and good air – was the biggest and most important planet conversion job ever attempted by the Engineers. But they hadn’t counted on the already too Earthlike behaviour of the Ganymede colonists, who had never altered the ancient Earth-born habits of intrigue, bigotry and double-dyed treachery!
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.
The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.
Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.
Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find.
Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
Mars, 600 years in the future, is dying.
Five hundred years after the Chinese conquered the Red Planet, the great work of terraforming is failing. The human-machine Consensus of Earth had persuaded the AI Emperor to follow the Golden Path into a vast virtual reality universe, leaving behind an ungoverned planet swept by hunger riots and the beginnings of civil war.
Enter Wei Lee, a lowly itinerant agricultural technician: rock ‘n’ roll fan, dupe, holy fool – and unlikely Messiah. After stumbling on an anarchist pilot hiding near the wreckage of her spacecraft, he’s drawn into a revolutionary plot that has been spinning for decades. With the help of a ghost, the broadcasts of the King of the Cats, a Yankee yak herder, and a little Girl God, Lee travels across the badlands, swampy waterways and vast dust seas to a showdown at the summit of the biggest volcano in the Solar System. Not even the God-like Consensus can predict the outcome of his struggle to define his own destiny . . .
Epic in scope, Red Dust’s spectacular, fast-paced story brilliantly brings to life the planet that has captured our imagination like no other.