THE NEXT CONTINENT
Set in an unfashionably upbeat near future of increasing international cooperation and reconciliation, a world in which issues like climate change and dwindling oil supplies are managed using reason and applied science, The Next Continent, translated by Jim Hubbert, is a welcome holiday from the relentlessly pessimistic and bitter tone of North America SF. What could be a tedious exercise in engineering porn is humanized focus by its principle characters: Junior Engineer Aomine, who finds himself drafted into a central role in this grand undertaking, and Tae, the determined young woman whose vision frames and defines the Sixth Continent Project.
In 2025 Gotobo Engineering & Construction is engaged by the Toenji Group, a vast entertainment conglomerate. They are commissioned to construct Sixth Continent — a moon base that will, unlike the struggling Chinese base, be safe enough for the civilians it hopes to attract. A daunting task even by the standards of the next decade, construction will span nearly a generation; success will require mastering revolutionary engineering and launch techniques, surviving a demanding environment and avoiding the pitfalls presented by human factors from shortsighted greed to overwhelming grief in the face of unexpected losses. (HAIKASORU, May 2010, 500 pp., $16.99)
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