Nov 11 2011 6:00pm

Humanity’s True Containment

Christian Cantrell’s novel Containment takes us to a future where Earth has become almost unfit for human life. In order to preserve the human race, the world’s governments form the Global Space Agency. Their project: cultivate sustainable life on other planets.

In the end, Venus is chosen, and a group of Earth’s smartest and most adaptable people are selected to colonize there, with the expectations of expanding and increasing oxygen production. Eventually, the oxygen level is stable enough to allow a generation of Venus-born children, they become known as Gen V.

Jump to graduation day. Gen V is interviewed and assigned jobs based on their skills and abilities. Arik Ockley, the golden boy of Gen V, has integrated himself into advanced technology, and he can solve complex problems better than anyone before him. His assignment: research and solve the limited oxygen problem through artificial photosynthesis (AP). However, Arik believes there is a better way to solve the oxygen problem. Arik’s decision to research his own solution despite receiving instructions to focus only on AP leads him down a road that causes him to question everything he has ever been told.

Containment is heavy on science and technology terms, but everything mentioned seems very plausible today or in the near future. And the more you learn about how humanity ended up in this predicament, the more you consider how this is a path we could very well be traveling down.

I listened to the audiobook, available through Tantor Audio, in about a week. Sometimes I would sit in my driveway or in a parking lot, waiting to turn off the car until I came to a break in the story. Currently, Tantor is offering Containment for free when you create an account and download the new App for Android. Visit for more details.

Cassandra McNeil is self-contained.

James Davis Nicoll
1. James Davis Nicoll
Are we talking a Landis-style LTA colony 50 km above the surface or what?
James Davis Nicoll
2. Foxessa
Do other readers of used up earth sf wonder from where comes the money and materials for such projects? Or are these scenarios reflections of how the 1% cream always believes that eco and financial catastrophe won't affect them, for they'll be protected and / or elsewhere? I'm not being snarky. I've had these thoughts around such novels since I read the first one at about age 11 or so.

Love, C.
James Davis Nicoll
3. James Davis Nicoll
I get distracted by the fact that you could have a third world war and another End Permian extinction and Earth would still be a friendlier place to live than any of the other planets. Venus does have that nice only insanely hostile level at 50 km (pluses include decent gravity and air pressure, minus include toxic air, water about as common as neon is in Earth's atmosphere and a plentiful supply of H2SO4, plus a 50 km drop into hell if the balloons give out) but the surface is insanely hostile, a combination pressure cooker/kiln and any reasonable model for terraforming the place includes massive importations of H2 and millennia of time.

Or are these scenarios reflections of how the 1% cream always believes that eco and financial catastrophe won't affect them, for they'll be protected and / or elsewhere?

The oligarchs in Ben Bova's Colony built their L4/L5 colony as the world's most expensive gated community ever, only to find out if the unwashed masses are annoyed enough, some fraction of them will be able to get past any barrier. Hilarity, as ever, ensues.

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