A billionaire industrialist launches an automated mission to an asteroid, aiming to redirect it into a Lunar orbit for future extraction of minerals. The propulsion system malfunctions before completing the redirection maneuver, and now the asteroid is heading for impact with Earth. A desperate repair mission is launched.
The story is excellent. High stakes, interesting technical solutions, lots of hardcore space action, and a high pace. Unfortunately, and just like the previous book, it is let down by atrocious dialogue and cardboard cutout characters. The dialogue is especially cringeworthy. I did enjoy it because despite these negatives, it is a great yarn, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a real space buff.
Nombeko Mayeko is born into poverty in Soweto during the Apartheid era. From childhood, she has worked as a latrine emptier. Despite a lack of formal education, she is a maths prodigy and possesses considerable street smarts. Through a series of unlikely events, she ends up in Sweden in possession of an atomic bomb. Here her life continues together with Holger 2, the non-existent (at least as far as the authorities are concerned) twin of Holger 1, a radical republican who wants to bring down the monarchy.
Because of its nature as a sequence of very unlikely, but nevertheless often humorous events, the story requires a complete suspension of disbelief, and is perhaps best read as a naif satire combined with situational comedy. The book is written in a very dry humor that turns what would normally be sad or infuriating situations into laugh-out-loud farces.
The characters are quirky, interesting and, while most are just as unlikely as the story, deeply charming. Even “The Idiot” and his girlfriend “The Angry One” engage the reader in their adventures.
On a deeper level, the story can be seen as a triumph of human ingenuity over adversity, with themes touching on how people will continue to seek a normal existence and happiness no matter what is thrown at them.
The year is 2035, and the first manned mission to Mars is getting underway.
During the long transit, disaster strikes and our heroes must find a way to survive.
While the story itself is engaging in an adventure novel kind of way, the prose is not. Much of the dialogue feels written to explain things to the reader. It makes the characters look clueless about the systems and concepts they should be experts on. It is also rather corny most of the time.
The social sensibilities are very old fashioned. Males taking the lead and feeling protective about women even if those women are highly trained astronauts. The technology doesn’t feel very futuristic either. In a nutshell, the book is set in 2035, but feels like 2015, or maybe 1965.
When Cory was eight, his mother died of cancer. Now two years later, his father is marrying an “extraterrestrial humanoid” or “Ethie”. Humans are in contact with a number of alien species, all of which are genetically related to humanity and each other. Cory and his family then leave for Midway Station, where his father takes up the post of director shortly before an important conference between the Union and the nations of Earth. But radical factions of humanity want to throw a wrench in the works.
This novel is squarely aimed at young adults. It uses a strict first person viewpoint in Cory, so everything is seen from a child’s eyes. The story is a bit slow at first and I almost gave up, but after the first third things pick up. The Ethie and human political systems add a lot of color. The themes are obvious. Tolerance and acceptance of difference. The book suffers from being a bit simplistic with its characters and character interactions, especially when adults are involved. Good enough for a few hours of distraction.
Due to my dubious status as a prolific reviewer on Goodreads and my interest in military science fiction, I received a message out of the blue from one Marc Jacobsen, USAF officer and author of ”The Lords of Harambee”. He asked me to review his book if I was interested. I was both excited and apprehensive. Previous forays into self-published novels have given me the probably unwarranted impression that they are either outstanding or awful. This one did nothing to change my views.
The Lords of Harambee takes place on a human colony world in an indefinite but not too far future. In a cruel irony on its Kenyan name of Harambee, signifying cooperation towards a common goal, the world is a hell-hole with a fortnight-long diurnal cycle, meaning one week of freezing cold night followed by one week of infernally hot day. To make matters worse, the atmosphere is not breathable. Inhabitants must wear breather masks fed by compressors when outside atmosphere controlled buildings. Most of the world is desert with the occasional lava plain.
Initially, Harambee seems almost a stereotypical third world backwater, with an ethnic minority controlling power and money while lording it over a poor but backwards ethnic majority. The alert reader may recognize this situation from the recent history of Iraq. Meanwhile, powerful off-word corporate interests control mining interests. The same alert reader may recognize this situation from, well, any number of places around the world.
The story centers on General Michael Sheridan, head of the peacekeeping mission on Harambee, his estranged daughter Claire, naïve activist (at least initially) and Julian Marshall, special forces operative with doubts. As things come together for bipartisan talks between the ethnic groups, perhaps even followed by democratic elections, civil war and genocide erupt, in large part due to meddling by foreign governments. In the mayhem that follows, off-word military, political and corporate interests do their best to screw things up while the “lords” of Harambee do their best to kill each other and commit atrocities.
If I had to describe this novel in one word, it would be powerful. It starts almost innocently, with a tired General Sheridan, stuck in a backwater assignment with chronically insufficient resources, starting to see glimmers of hope on the horizon. And then all hell breaks loose, and continues breaking loose. Mr. Jacobsen very skillfully navigates the reader through a rather intricate plot while keeping the human experience at the center. And what an experience it is. The descriptions of brutal killing, rape and suffering are gripping. I kept thinking that things could not get any worse, and then they did. And yet, strong but flawed characters kept fighting in an obvious but heartfelt metaphor for humanity. The desert and desolation of Harambee as illustration of the humanity and its suffering was especially apt. The fact that the action scenes are excellently written, the characters are interesting and the occasional humor is very dry doesn’t hurt.
Even if The Lords of Harambee is science fiction, it should interest anyone who wants to learn about the effects of foreign policy in “third world” countries. It does send a powerful message, mostly about things not being as simple from thousands of miles away as they are to those “on the ground”.
After an absence of several decades, Batman returns to the streets of Gotham to counter a new threat. The aging masked hero finds a new Robin and goes rogue for his own reasons. Intriguing and thought provoking.
The story is somewhat stereotypical. Aliens from an advanced federation have been secretly watching Earth. However, they don’t understand that fiction is fiction. They kidnap an actor who plays a great diplomat on a science fiction TV show since they think he can help them defuse a potential galactic war. Back on Earth, they replace him with an alien in disguise.
Peter Jurasik is more well known as the actor who played Londo Mollari on Babylon 5. William H. Keith is a prolific author who also writes Military SF under the pseudonym Ian Douglas. The novel is a cute piece, and frequently laugh out loud funny. The satire elements are dead on. The aliens are neither all powerful nor all knowing. In fact, they are prone to big errors of judgement. As such, the interaction with our hero, who is completely out of his element once abducted, works very well. It is obviously written for laughs, but there are some very clever twists to the story.
I was forced to read this classic in high school. It is mostly horribly tedious, only partially redeeming itself with the long sermon and its great descriptions of hell and brimstone. It does capture a bit of the feeling of son towards father.
Job is a former Australian air crash investigator. These books thoroughly analyze major air disasters in a non-sensationalist way with plentiful illustrations and pictures. Very interesting and detailed, but perhaps only for the dedicated aviation enthusiast.
The story is set in the 2020s. NASA is finally returning to the Moon using the (now canceled) Orion/Altair hardware. Meanwhile, a private company is sending tourists around the Moon and the Chinese are up to something. The first mission back to the Moon turns in to a daring rescue.
I’m a big space program buff so I’m a sucker for this kind of book. The story itself is a decent adventure/thriller. The engineering is well described, as would be expected since Dr. Taylor works with NASA Huntsville and Les Johnson is a NASA physicist. Unfortunately the prose is quite stilted, especially during the first third. The characters are stereotypes, especially the Chinese. Unfortunately the Chinese are also the wrong stereotype. They feel like reruns of Cold War era Soviets with a dash of “Asian” thrown in. The story does pick up in the second half and there are some nice thrills for the space buff. If you aren’t interested in the space program particularly you should give this a pass. It isn’t a bad book per se but could have used an author with a smoother prose style.