Review: Empire Builders

Series: The Grand Tour: #3

In Powersat, the big bads were terrorists. In Privateers, the Russians. In The Empire Builders it’s… global warming and the mob?

Given how times have changed, it’s amusing to see the specter of a ‘greenhouse cliff’ looming over the world, with no one believing at first that such a thing is even possible. Nowdays, you’ll see arguments over if it’s happening or not (more and more rarely) and if we caused it in the first place (of course we did), but you’d be hard pressed to find too many people that have never even heard of the idea. That’s what you get for reading near future sci- fi written a quarter century ago I guess. It’s a straight forward enough plot with a few twists through politics, squatters on the moon and natural disasters and an engaging read. I find myself increasingly interested in what happens to this other Earth.

Surprisingly, I find myself actually like Dan Randolph slightly more than either of the previous books. He’s still crazy sexist and unable to see his own faults, but beneath all that… he really does want to do the right thing and will go through some fairly crazy lengths to make it happen. So… well written Ben Bova I guess?

Characterwise, it’s most interesting to see the growth of Vasily Malik and his relationship with Randolph. Again, I didn’t expect to sympathize as much with Malik as much I as I did. It probably helps that with the fall of the Soviet Union (in the real world), the Russians aren’t quite as much the cartoonish villains this time around. It’s kind of a bummer not to see Teresita Hernandez at all and only a little of the elder Saito, although what we get is interesting and good characterization for him and Dan and might just set up for something later (I honestly don’t remember).

Overall, it’s my favorite of the series so far.

Next up: Mars! I remember quite enjoying that book.