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It was as if the light had been turned on in a dark room and revealed infinity, sitting naked and glorious beneath the swinging bulb.



This is a novel that recites a symphony of lonliness in two, distinct cantos. The first one is that of Augustine Lofthouse, known as Augie, a 78-year old man left behind from a retreating scientific exedition in the Artic. On his own volitionwith certain death the only outcomehe's decided that, "having come to the terminus of his life's work, all he could do was stare into the bleak face of his own ignorance"(p.5).

The second is the spacecraft Aether with its crew of 5, having just swung around its orbit of Jupiter and heading home. xxx "Sully" Sullivan is the communications chief who, being a young woman vigorously determining her own career, was elated to get a shot at the Jovian probes. Now, after sacrificing her marriage, her social aspirations, and maybe even her little girl, Sully is seriously questioning her life decisions. The two year voyage has eased her further and further into a squelching depression. "Day by day, there was nothing except the digital binary of mechanical wanderers and the cosmic rays from the stars and their planets"(p.91).

Both groups of humansAugie has found an 8-year-old stowaway named Irisare suddenly faced with the biggest and most distressing anomoly of their lives. Aether has lost all communication with Mission Control on Earth, and, when Augie tries to radio the nearest base to come back for the little girl, there is complete silence. "Everything seemed different. Sharper. More dangerous, more violent, and also more beautiful"(p.29).



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