To Open the Sky
Noel Vorst has founded a "religion" based on science, fission and electricity. The blue flame in a Vorst church draws the worshiper in hope of faith, space exploration, and eternal life. The Vorsters have a research lab in New Mexico that is developing the scientific tools needed to help man take the next step to protect himself from implosion - travel to and colonization of other planets in the galaxy. The existing colonization of Mars and Venus are fine but not enough to save mankind.
To Open the Sky takes place over almost 90 years - from the youth of the Vorster movement through the growth of the movement and the spin-off "heretics" through the achievements in genetics and mental powers to the eventual moment of sending a spaceship off to an unknown planet. It focuses on four periods of the movement with pivotal stories that affect the growth of the Vorster movement.
All in all, this book was a disappointment to me. I admire much of Robert Silverberg's work. To Open the Sky left me cold. It tends to plod and the characters don't leave the page - except for Mondschein in the second story. It's not enough to bring this story out of its slowness. The book isn't unreadable, but not Silverberg's better work, either. I suggest looking for some of his other work, instead.
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