Distant Suns begins with the discovery of a massive cloud of hydrogen headed toward Earth. The cloud is hijacked by Jupiter and for a brief time those who knew of the world’s potential death heaved a sigh of relief. Then Jupiter begins to heat up. The extra mass kicked started its fusion furnace and the massive planet becomes a second sun in the solar system. Even the much smaller amount of energy from Jupiter is enough to push global warming into high gear.
Like another John Wyndham, Patricia Smith weaves a story of the Earth’s demise caused by some random unfortunate occurrence. As in any murder story, the manner of the death is carefully constructed. The science is plausible enough to make it possible to let go and enjoy the ride. Patricia’s cast of characters are two astronomers and the beautiful young Lauren, who is a recent astrophysics grad. They follow the ups and downs of the story and provide a continuous thread that is interwoven with the stories of a wide range of characters.
While Distant Suns is a disaster novel, Patricia stays away from the gruesome and the people of her world are oddly orderly. Nonetheless she creates an evocative story, and hints at what might still be our fate, with or without wandering gas clouds.
I recommend Distant Suns to sci fi readers and any who enjoy a good disaster.
You can buy it here.