The Ark 47 Librae

Boris Stern

Publisher: LETA Capital Pages: 326 Price: ISBN: 9789895361021 Reviewed: December, 2023

The Ark 47 Librae is a hard science-fiction novel that charts the development over hundreds of thousands of years of a collaborative terraforming mission between Earth and Mars.

The novel commences on Earth and Mars, focusing on the socio-political and scientific exploits of a group of scientists and philanthropists as they seek to construct an expensive interstellar vessel called the Ark. The Ark is capable of traversing space with the goal of populating a distant planet. After the first phase on Earth and Mars, the focus shifts to the journey itself, and then to the terraforming and populating of 47 Librae.

Author Boris Stern adopts a scientifically rigorous approach to proceedings. While some speculation is necessary for the story’s final act, the novel is primarily concerned with the processes by which a successful terraforming expedition might be mounted and what the outcome might be, accounting for current scientific and engineering advancements and theories. This ensures the novel is well-informed, consistent, educational and plausible—both enlightening and fascinating.

However, the author’s omniscient narrative voice occasionally inserts itself (“Unfortunately, here the author is forced to interrupt the conversation and intervene with his own comments…”), negatively impacting pacing. Stern also tends to indulge in overly complex scientific explication which some readers might find alienating (“Uh, two pi per R square, instead of per R we substitute the circumference, L, divided by two pi…,.” says one character).

Finally, the individual character dramas that occur throughout are often underdeveloped, with the specifics of the terraforming mission taking center stage. Fortunately, although the novel lacks a relatable character for readers to engage with, the technological drama involved in the Ark’s development and the exemplary evolutionary world-building concerning the final act ensure there’s never a dull moment.

Some readers will find the technical jargon and lack of a central character off-putting, but fans of well researched, insightful science-fiction will find plenty to enjoy here.