this is the 216th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Exiles Trilogy by Ben Bova, Baen, 1994 paperback, science fiction – omnibus of 3 science fiction novels
The first two novels are pretty much adventure stories set in the future with a space travel premise. The world has been united, but in order to keep things economically and politically stable the world government has decided that the world’s top scientists – the most creative thinkers and particularly those working in the genetic field – must be kept from advancing new ideas and making discoveries in their field. (An aside – this is similar to a concept in the Man-Kzin War series) To accomplish this they and their families are exiled from earth to a large space station in orbit.
Exiled From Earth covers the decision to do this and the attempts of some of them to fight and escape. Ultimately this effort is doomed and all are exiled. Instead of staying in their orbital prison, the group decides to seek a new home among the stars and manages to rebuild the station into an interstellar ship (!) to make the journey to Alpha Centauri where it is suspected a livable planet awaits them.
Flight of Exiles picks up the story a generation later. Most of the people on board are in cryosleep. Now in the last months of the long journey, the destination planet is discovered not to be sufficiently earthlike to sustain human life. The next generation must be genetically altered to live there. Some are willing to try that but others propose continuing the journey, looking for a more earth-like planet in another system. This latter group wins the argument and off they go.
End of Exile, possibly written simply to create a trilogy, picks up the story some generations later. Now nearing the final destination, few have survived due to medical and political problems and mechanical breakdowns. The survivors have descended to near savagery, worshiping images on old video tapes, not knowing they’re on a spaceship. The one person who understands the true situation must convince the others, teach them the skills needed to leave the ship and make the new planet their home, which he manages – after a near disaster – to do.
While these three novels are fun and easy to read, they’re only slightly better than fair unless this is just the kind of thing you want to fill a rainy weekend. [There is a copy available on Paperback Bookswap]
Bova has written better, such as his Sam Gunn books and the two Save the Sun novels, To Save the Sun (1992) and To Fear the Light (1994) both written with A.J. Austin. Other people will have thier own Ben Bova favorites, he’s written a lot of novels and stories.