Giganimous nerd-gasm wish fulfillment fantasy, shamelessly to the end. There is a twist that threads through the story that keeps you reading and makes it not completely predictable. Fun to read.
spoilers – A typical KSR tour de force, with melodious and long-winded digressions into science, engineering, philosophy, sociology, and most particularly of course, geology and meteorology. But ultimately this is a depressing novel and when you finally realize what the main pessimistic message of it is you wonder why he bothered writing those voluminous poetic descriptions of Tau Ceti and interstellar space at all.
I should have known that was coming when the protagonists left with the backers. I wanted so much to stay narratively with the stayers. I read the story to go into space, not to be told to stay home.
There is a good message about preserving the Earth and protecting it but it doesn’t have to be told at the expense of dreaming about the stars.