Empire Builders

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.



Reading Powersat and then Privateers (the suggested chronological order given for [series:The Grand Tour|51185]) is a bit strange, given the former was first published in 2005 and the latter back in 1985.

In Powersat, the ‘big bads’ are informed by the political tensions of the early 2000s, with terrorism (especially Middle Eastern) driving the conflict. When Privateers was written, the Soviet Union had not yet fallen and the Cold War was still going, so it’s unsurprising to find that the ‘what if’ this time around sees the Soviets taking a position of political power and the United States fading to isolationism.



I last read most of the The Grand Tour in high school or earlier, jumping about from book to book in no particular order. I don’t even know if I read The Grand Tour, especially given that it might not have been out yet. It’s a bit of a strange book, set first chronologically but written decades after others in the series. I was looking for an audiobook series to listen to next and this seemed worth a try.

Plotwise, it’s near future science fiction, with a world similar enough to the modern world that nothing seems impossible but exploring what could be / could have been. It’s not the sort of science fiction I generally read, but so it goes. The idea of the powersat and the spaceplanes is neat and the idea of NASA transferring responsibilities to private companies seems increasingly prescient every year (the last space shuttle flight was 6 years after this book was published). The ending in particular has just the right push of scifi action and adventure to keep me reading by itself.