Encounter with Tiber by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes

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Encounter with Tiber

Five words from the blurb: Earth, species, starfaring, space, future

I hadn’t heard of this book until I read about it in Moondust a few weeks ago. Intrigued by the idea of an astronaut writing a scientifically accurate sci-fi novel, I ordered a copy from my library. I’m pleased that I did because this is one of the best pieces of science fiction I’ve ever read.

Encounter with Tiber is a fantastic story that travels through time and space. I was gripped throughout the 500+ pages; thrown from moral dilemmas to heart stopping scenes of disaster. It predicts how human space travel will increase over the next few decades, explaining how technology will evolve to enable us to travel increasingly large distances. It also shows the problems faced when alien life is detected, giving thought-provoking insights into our society.

The wonderful thing about this book is the way everything is based on scientific fact.  The plot is firmly rooted to the first moon landings and the science behind everything is clearly explained. Some people may find that it gets a bit technical in places, but I loved the detail and enjoyed Aldrin’s predictions for the future.

“We’re going to the Moon, but only to go treasure hunting, and once we’re there it probably won’t be long before we’re taking soil that hasn’t been disturbed for four billion years, bulldozing it up in carloads, and pumping it through helium extractors. I wonder when they’ll open the first casino up there. Probably within my lifetime.”

Buzz Alrdrin also used his experiences in space to give realistic descriptions of the thoughts, feelings and fears of those leaving our planet. This added a unique spark to the story and is the main reason this book should be considered a modern classic.

There are several things I should probably criticise (for example, the writing wasn’t perfect and the characters all had the same voice) but these problems didn’t seem to matter – I was far too engaged in the story. The only real issue is that this book was published in 1996 and so many of the events in the 1990-2010 section had already happened/not happened. Had I read this book on publication it would have had a far greater impact.

If you think you don’t like science fiction you should give this a try – it effortlessly blends historical events with predictions for the future and the scary thing is just how possible it all seems.

Highly recommended.


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  1. Teresa says:

    Sounds like a good one. I loved Moondust and I’m fascinated by space travel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I think you’ll love this one. I hope you decide to try it at some point.

  2. Heather says:

    I had never heard of this book, either. I’m glad you read it and wrote about it–I’ll definitely be adding it to my list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Heather, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

  3. Wow – 5 stars! Will be checking it out.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’m sure that you’ll love this one. I know you appreciate good science as much as I do :-)

  4. stujallen says:

    I read a book twenty years ago on the future of space travel ,but it wasn’t this one I wonder how much has changed in that time ,plus buzz aldrin is some that has done it so would be best place to know ,all the best stu


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