Nathan Arkwright is a science fiction writer ranked among such classic authors as Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. After the death of his wife, he becomes cantankerous and recluses himself from the public. He rarely comes in contact even with his estranged daughter and granddaughter. At his death, he passes on a will to establish a foundation by the name of Arkwright whose aim is space exploration and ultimately space colonisation. His three old and entrusted friends convince Kate (granddaughter) to take on the project and it is now up to her and future generations to achieve the goal.
Through Arkwright, Steele argues exactly why humans need to explore and why space-colonization is the next logical step for mankind. Beautifully written and explained, the writer is able to maintain suspense until the very end. There are parts in the novel where the reader has no idea and even frustrated about what the heck is going on until the writer clarifies everything. The novel can basically be divided into two parts with each part having its distinctive plot. The first part (as described above) deals with the frustrations of a science fiction writer about the pace at which the exploration of the outer space is taking place and his initiation to establish a foundation responsible to migrate humans to the exoplanets. The second part deals with the unforeseen situation one might have to encounter after having reached the exoplanet. However, apart from one incidence when an eosian (name given to the exoplanet) receives a message from a little girl on Earth which was sent centuries ago, there is no real connection between the two plots. Besides being a science fiction, the novel (specially the second part) can also be seen as a satire to the creationists. A number of conversations and arguments that take place between the inhabitants of the two states of the exoplanet Eos (Providence and Purgatory) are analogous to the crux of the debate that take place between the non-religious and creationists. The fictional characters of Providence, however, turnout to be more prudent than the creationists.
Apart from the big ideas of space colonisation and terraforming, the portrayal of relationship between a father and his estranged daughter, grandfather and his estranged granddaughter, the romantic narratives make the novel interesting to read. Towards the end of the novel, when the inhabitants of Providence discover their kinship with earth and the drama that ensues is moving.
No doubt Steele has got most of the science right, however, has failed to go into details many of the accomplishments. Besides planetary exploration, he has ignored the developments that might take place in other areas of technology. Moreover, the conclusion did not have to be so dry.
All in all, despite some of its shortcomings, a good book to read and I definitely recommend it.