Inherit the Stars
by James P Hogan
Reviewed by Coral
Wow, all I can say is that if my copy of the book had a cover that ridiculous looking, I may have never picked it up.
Peace has finally come to Earth, which means that all of the resources that had been used to develop weaponry can now be used somewhere else, exploring to the farthest reaches of the solar system. When one of these missions turns up a 50,000 year old human corpse, in a spacesuit, on the moon, well it throws the whole scientific community into chaos. Now, prominent British scientist Vic Hunt is called in to help unravel the mystery. But, in doing so, he may not just be solving the mystery of this Lunar skeleton, but the mystery of human origin itself!
Okay, so I'm in no way an archaeologist or an anthropologist. At best, I'm an amateur historian, though I have taken plenty of classes to know how much of the past there is that we don't know, so that this book felt a little off from an archaeologist/anthropologist perspective. It's just that, when dealing with trying to piece together an ancient culture, like that of the Lunar skeleton - dubbed Charlie - I don't understand how any archeologist, or any scientist for that matter, can really stand up and say that there's no other option, it can only be this, when they've barely begun investigating.
I also had a bit of a problem warming up to the language used in the book; it's way too formal. The book came off feeling like a weird sort of mixed science-history-archaeology-anthropology textbook. It kind of makes me scared of what Motel of the Mysteries will be like, if I actually manage to find myself a copy.
The book did manage to keep me interested in the question of Charlie's origin although, and I'm not sure why, I was a little disappointed in the ending. I just think it's a little off, because you still have to believe that after years of exploring our own planet, not one trace of advanced mechanical technology dating back fifty-thousand years had turned up. Oops, I hope that doesn't give too much away.
Also, the epilogue was stupid, because with the discovery of a corpse on the moon and the years of controversy and debate surrounding him, how would someone be so completely unaware of all that, so that they would unknowingly destroy a once in a lifetime archeological find?
Just a couple of minor little thoughts. One is, that again editors should really be on the watch for typos. How do you let a non-word "ao" get printed instead of "ago" I'll never know. Second is that, since the book was written in the 70s, it has a kind of odd flavor to it. Not in a bad way, just in the sort of way that the author had 30 years that he's made up a history for which, of course, differs from what actually happened in those 30 years. It's not bad, just different.
Anyways, at times I felt the book really had promise, but at others I had to really struggle to keep the interest alive.