I'm trying to remember the title of a book. The plot was a group of people are stranded on a comet or asteroid. They establish kind of a colony inside it, and rig up rockets on the surface to move it. Some of the people discover some sort of algae type life form inside it, which bonds with and mutates people helping them to survive. They set the asteroid to head for Earth but have to change the course when authorities on Earth threaten to blow the asteroid up because of the mutations.


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Indeed this is Heart of the Comet, a 1987 book by David Brin and Gregory Benford. I've read this book so many times and it never loses its appeal...

Book cover

A group of spacers and scientists land on Halleys Comet, and set about harvesting it for the materials and metals that comets are made of. They install mass launchers in order to change the orbit of the comet, to bring it into the inner solar system and make the harvesting easier.

Unexpectedly they encounter life within Halley, life that lives deep within the comet, life that is inimical to start with but the spacers and scientists gradually adjust and come to terms with the Halley-life (as they call it). Earth attempts to blow up the comet to stop any of the extra-terrestrial life reaching earth, so the comet crew change trajectory to move out of the solar system.

This is a really good hard sf story, totally recommended...

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