Into Deepest Space
Fred Hoyle & Geoffrey Hoyle
Penguin Books 
Synopsis: In the previous book, Rockets in Ursa Major , the attempt by the Yela, a highly advanced nonhuman species, to destroy Earth1 was foiled by the lithium-bombing of the sun, making the vicinity of the sun too lethal for space travel, even by the Yela. Several years later, solar conditions are cooling down and the new attack is possible.
The attack, when it comes, is in the form of a vast cloud of hydrogen aimed at the Earth: then it hits, the atmosphere will combust. The attack comes to nothing but after a meeting which takes less time than the average theatre-board discussion on where to get dinner [after which the narrator, Dick Warboys, roundly criticizes democracy for its inefficiency] it is agreed by the various nations that Something Must Be Done and the combined fleet is launched into space to teach the Yela a lesson. Warboys sets out with his friends from the interstellar branch of humanity in their ship, which is far better designed for extended stays in deep space.
After a remarkably swift journey to Jupiter [34 hours, using either a 1 m/s/s Ion drive2 or chemical rockets. The text is unclear], via Mars [Is Mars in line with Jupiter from Earth in 2010?] and a vector change using a skim of Jupiter’s atmosphere, the heroes set off to rendezvous with the interstellar human fleet in near inter stellar space. The Terrestrial fleet is scattered across half the sky, alas.
Along the way, Warboys and company encounter the Yela craft. The Yela has been badly damaged somehow. It has managed to befuddle the humans into coming close to it and it proceeds to take over the important subsystems of the ship, almost killing both craft through mismanagement. The Yela’s propulsion systems are vastly more powerful than the human ship’s and they are soon travelling at close to light speed. Along the way, the human notice that certain stars are evaporating. Since the stars are not nova or supernova candidates, this is rather odd and would involve a lot of energy.
On arriving at a star, a light century from Earth, the Yela towing them explodes. They later think this may have been an attack by whatever is evaporating stars. They calculate that if the source is in the galaxy it would be about 10 km wide. Noticing that this is about the size of a neutron star, they speculate that perhaps a pulsar is being used as a weapon. They also speculate that neutron stars might have life analogous to chemical life and that the most advanced race of these beings might be at war with the Yela, the most advanced biological species.
They are then snagged by another Yela which launches into deepest space, accelerating at well over one gee for years and years. Finally, they arrive at the target, over a billion light years away, a quasar.
Could this be the source of the star-killing beam [If so, they are not only hitting stars at a great distance in space but time: some of the destroyed stars may not have formed when the beam left]. The Yela is apparently on a kamikaze run and the humans prepare themselves for death.
They are greatly surprised to find themselves not dead. They are also surprised to find themselves back in our galaxy not too far in the future, rather than the billion+ years they should have been. Perhaps the Yela or its hypothetical enemy sent them through a black hole back through time. On encountering Earth in the year 12,000, they discover that civilization has collapsed into barbarism, having used up all of its resources. They decide to stay, hoping that they can build something which will be noticed by the interstellar branch of humanity.
Only Warboys notices that the trip through the black hole has flipped the crew, and all their stereochemistry is wrong way round now. As well, so is the chemistry of the humans on Earth: they are not in their original universe and perhaps the humans of our Earth avoided the trap which destroyed dextro-Earth’s culture.
Strictly speaking, I would have preferred to review either The Black Cloud or A is for Andromeda , but my copies have gone missing and I couldn’t find replacements. Next trip to Hay-on-Wye, I guess.
Fred Hoyle is a noted astronomer, currently supporting a panspermia model and a [how to say this without risking the British Libel Laws?] distinctly minority view on evolution. His son, Geoffrey, is apparently in communications and the motion picture industry. Judging by the quaint awfulness of this book, Fred did the writing and Geoff handled the science. The characters are flat, and the science is often bogus. There’s nothing that compels this story to be dull and the incorrect bits of science don’t drive the plot. In more adept hands, this might have been a ripping tale. As it is, it was a struggle to get through this slim volume.
I am not sure what Geoffrey is doing these days but as far as I can tell Fred left fiction in 1985, concentrating on pushing his science hobby horses. Folks who are curious about what Fred is up to these days can check
1: If memory serves, because there was already an interstellar community of humans who had acted like rat-bastards at one time and the Yela had long memories and little inclination to forgive. How the other branch of humans got into space I forget. Maybe we were a colony or something.
2: From which we may deduce Jupiter is at most 1/2 (34x3600s)2 (1 m/s/s) or about 7.5 million km from Earth, about one twentieth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, one of many interesting facts we will learn from IDS, along with the distance to Alpha Centauri [3 light years] and the distance to the center of the galaxy [4000 light years]. Also speed and pressure can substitute for gravity. Fiction by trained astronomers is ever so educational.