I was honestly expecting this to be the last volume of the series, given the way vol. 3 ended and along with the summary provided on the back cover. That’s not the case here. We’ve got at least two more volumes to go, with one of them being a collection of one-off stories that were sprinkled throughout its run. With the end clearly in sight I’ll be sticking around to see how things end even if this volume isn’t one of the title’s stronger efforts. The good news is that with his surprise reappearance at the end of the previous volume Major Gabriel Drumm has brought with him both horror and hope. We learn that the majority of humanity will die, but six hundred and sixty-six survivors will be able to carry on our legacy. Now it’s up to President Blades to decide who will be saved. Though the scenes on Earth may be lacking the crazy plot twists and full-on soap opera that drove the previous volumes, this new development does bring out the best in the current president and makes the struggles involved recognizably human. Of course, former President Carroll is still scheming behind the scenes to keep the drama coming here.
Unfortunately, with his reappearance on Earth, Maj. Drum has brought back some of the poor and ridiculous decision-making that has undermined the space-set portions of the series. We learn about the early days of the Clarke’s journey and how the inter-crew relationships threatened to derail it. Also, that NASA foresaw the romance and sexual interaction that would develop between the cast, but didn’t make any plans for how to handle it which could’ve saved us a lot of headaches. Or maybe they should’ve picked a better crew to begin with. One that wasn’t so beholden to acting on their emotional impulses. That NASA didn’t leads to humanity getting screwed over, and possibly the rest of the universe as well. I can’t say for sure since the volume ends with the fate of all members of the Clarke up in the air. I’m betting that most of them will probably survive, but if they’re all dead then I’m perfectly fine with that outcome.