Action Packed Series Starter. This is one hell of an action packed series starter for Mather, and one that despite a few similar general ideas (such as crippled communications due to space activity) with his CyberStorm series never gets quite as dark as that one can. Indeed, the darkest thing here is unfortunately all too common, but to reveal it specifically would be a spoiler (though even here, Mather manages to put a scifi twist to it in furtherance of his ultimate series objectives). The different types of action here are reminiscent of everything from nearly-every-Amazon-based-action-movie-you’ve-ever-seen such as Predator or Anaconda, just to name a couple, to more urban based ala Daniel Pyne’s Sentro Security or a Mission Impossible / Jason Bourne type. Throw in some elements similar to Deep Impact, as well as a few other elements of a few other popular tales that would be a touch spoilery to add here, and you’ve truly got a promising start to a potentially long series. This book is mostly set-up without ever truly *feeling* like it is mostly set-up – the action is tightly paced, as is the exposition, there is just *so much here* that by the end it is quite clear that this series is intended as a trilogy at minimum. Very much recommended.
This Needs To Be Expanded (And That Is A Very Good Thing). Here Lebak creates an inventive yet relatable science fiction tale set on Pluto that is a great yet short read… which is really the only problem with the book. It is so intriguing that I for one would *really* like to see this expanded out into a full length novel, perhaps building in more suspense and mystery and *maybe* adding a few more named characters/ further fleshing out existing named characters. Played right, it could likely even be expanded into a trilogy – one that I for one would love to experience. Seriously great tale, and a very quick read. Which in and of itself is *great* for those with little reading time and/ or trying to squeeze in a few more books at the end of the year to meet reading goals for the year. Also great for younger readers, as there is no cursing / sex/ gore *and* it even has some actual science (explained to “an intelligent five year old”, as the Station Director directs in-book) to use as a teaching point. 🙂 Very much recommended.
Fascinating And Short. To be such a compact tale – 220 pages or so – this volume puts in a fairly dense amount of information at a very high level (for its extremely advanced concepts anyway, some of which deal with literally the smallest entities known to mankind), which is even more remarkable when one considers the volume of space dedicated to the often stunning imagery included in even this months-prior-to-publication advanced reader copy. (For those unfamiliar with ARC work, actually getting to see most imagery referenced in a book is a rarity. :D) As to showing these ten patterns and roughly how they can all be seen to link up to explain the universe. Clegg definitely shows – again at a very high level – that links are there, often in ways not everyone would think to look. As to whether these fully explain the universe… that, is a much larger question that Clegg never really dives into too deeply, seemingly satisfied that they seem to explain the universe *as we currently understand it*. Which is a major concession, particularly in light of just how recent most of the developments Clegg details are in human history. (Quite a few within the last 150 years or so, vs the few thousand years of even recorded history.) Overall truly an interesting book and a quick ish read to boot, that doesn’t *completely* require a science related degree to understand (though having some degree of familiarity with STEM subjects will certainly help any reader here), and thus very much recommended.
The Master Outdoes Himself. Jeremy Robinson, the Modern Day Master of Science Fiction, truly outdoes himself here. While the first Infinite was one hell of a trippy, mind bending ride, this one still has elements of that – but also goes back to Robinson’s more “bread and butter” approach of balls to the wall action. Almost a love song to long time fans while still being completely new and approachable to even people who have never read any of his books – even Infinite – this book seemingly has more callbacks and cameos from previous Robinsonverse books than any other, *including* his actual execution of his Avengers Level Event (ALE) in PROJECT LEGION. And without going into any detail – though those who have known me for a decade now will get this reference, but most of those have already read the book in question anyway as well – let’s just say that there is ONE BOOK that I ALWAYS reference whenever anyone asks me for the most terrifying book I’ve ever read, and it happens to be one of Robinson’s. AND HE INCLUDES THAT WORLD IN THE MANY CALLBACKS IN THIS BOOK! Honestly, when I first noticed that we were back in that world, my entire body broke out in sweat and I nearly blacked out. That is how terrifying that world is – it *literally* gave me nightmares for *years* just thinking about it. And this sadistic author has the balls to go back there, *knowing* one of his most ardent fans has that level of reaction to that tale. CURSE YOU, JEREMY ROBINSON!!!! ( 😀 ) Still, absolutely one of the Master’s best books to date, and one that even ALE 2 will have a hard time topping… IF it ever actually happens. Very much recommended.
Space. Nazis. In The Future! I didn’t think there was much new ground that The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction, Jeremy Robinson, had left to cover. I was wrong. He hadn’t covered space Nazis in the future yet, and that has now been corrected in truly awesome fashion. This one has everything you would expect from a tale of late 80s Special Forces soldiers being thrust 1,000 years into a future where the Nazis eventually came back, destroyed Earth… and are trying to take over the entire galaxy. Some Firefly, a good dose of WALL-E, and a few key callbacks to other previous Robinson books (easily explained in context, but then you’re going to want to go read those books too 🙂 ). And a pair of significant cameos at the end that could signal that Robinson is FINALLY about to give us another Avengers Level Event soon! All told, one of Robinson’s more fun books to date, which is saying quite a bit, and very much recommended.
Fascinating. This book is from a guy that started in NASA in the era right after Apollo and seemingly left right as SpaceX and the other private space agencies were finding their first successes. It is highly technical, yet also very approachable – Dye actively tries to explain as much of his “NASA-speak” (his term) as possible while not getting bogged down in too many details. This covers the entirety of his 40 ish years in NASA, from his first days as a co-op student through his last years planning the recovery missions should a Shuttle be stranded in space in the years after the Columbia disaster. Great insight and sometimes hilarious stories, though it ultimately suffers from the same bad taste of an ending that soured Kranz’s Failure Is Not An Option. In its final chapter, it more often comes across as a bitter old man not understanding the new dynamics of the agency he helped mold, rather than as someone truly hopeful for the future of space exploration and what the promise of the new and immediately future eras. Still, a truly worthy read from one of the people who doesn’t have the name recognition of a Kranz or a Chris Kraft, but who was arguably just as important in getting NASA to where it is today. Very much recommended.
This week, we’re looking at a lone-survivor-in-space book from a debut author that could give still-new author Andy Weir’s The Martian a run for its money. This week, we’re looking at Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols.
This story is basically a combination of a psychological thriller ala say Dete Meserve’s The Space Between with a lone-survivor-of-space-disaster science fiction ala the aforementioned The Martian by Andy Weir, with a sense of a dash of Interstellar thrown in – all without going into really any techno-speak beyond the bare minimum necessary for such a story. Thus, it is very approachable for anyone from any background, and indeed it works very well as a very real introduction to how NASA tends to operate in real life, for better and for worse.
That’s right. This particular reader has somewhat followed NASA for most of his life, including reading several memoirs and biographies of different personnel over the last year in particular, and this story really gets what working at Johnson Space Center as an Astronaut is really like, almost as though Nichols has read the same memoirs and biographies I have. Thus, there is just enough realism to this admittedly science fiction tale to add that extra degree of gravitas to the entire story, and in the end that makes a big difference.
If you enjoyed The Martian or Interstellar, you really should give this book a try. It really is a solid effort in those lines. Even if you didn’t particularly enjoy those efforts, give this one a shot – particularly if it was their more technical elements you didn’t enjoy as much. Simply a truly stunning book that you really need to drop everything else and read.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Vessel by Lisa A Nichols”
Kluger does an excellent job with writing the narrative of this distinctively NON-fiction story with the skill of a solid thriller author. While Apollo 11 would eventually overpower 8, and one of 8’s crewmen would become far more famous for Apollo 13, neither of those missions happens without someone being the first to actually get to lunar orbit and make sure their spacecraft can survive the trip. And Kluger does an excellent job of revealing all of the people invovled and putting them in the proper context while showing both the very real perils and how the various people handled those perils. If you’re interested in man leaving the planet at all, this is a must read book.
Infinite is easily Robinson’s most mind-bending work yet. With his masterful as always story telling, he introduces concepts that lead you to question everything about… well, everything. Admittedly written during times when he was going through some pretty intense drama in his real life, Robinson turns his own questions into one of his all around best works yet. While other Robinson works have had better focus on action and adventure, and there is still plenty of that here (including an opening scene of our protagonist being repeatedly killed), this book uses the action to set the space (literally) for the questions to be explored. And this, to my mind, is what contributes to it being all the stronger for it. There is still the great deal of escapism that we have come to expect from Robinson, yet there is also the much deeper questioning, should we decide to go there in our own heads.
And the ending… well, that might be the single most mind bending part of the entire story.