I bought a novel,Robopocalypse (2011) by Daniel H. Wilson, at an airport bookstore for a fast, time-killing read and while I wasn’t totally disappointed with it, it left me once again tackling the question about this ‘robocalypse’ that everyone is fearful about.
Whenever Joe Haldeman author puts out something, I read it. So, when each of these following novels came my way, I didn’t hesitate. His books feature plausible and ingenious technological and scientific ideas, so you can’t go wrong entering his worlds.
The Forever War
No one keen on hard science fiction should skip this novel. There is a reason it has garnered all those awards and accolades since it was published.
The reason: It tells a ripping story.
William Mandella is a school teacher who’s drafted to fight in an interstellar war against the alien Taurans. He survives battle after battle, but due to time dilation and space travel, hundreds of years go by between each mission. During this time, he experiences humanity morph into something he and his fellow veterans don’t recognise. All he hopes for is to survive the war and be reunited with his wife. But each battle is an evolution of warfare, becoming more deadlier than before.
This novel has it all. You care for Mandella. The battles are as gripping whether they take place on some outpost planet or in deep space. The finale is as satisfactory as one would want it, considering our journey through space and time.
This will turn you into a fan.
The premise revolves around two alien beings, both shape-shifters but of a different variety, who have been on Earth for aeons and whose futures are interlocked. The protagonist alien’s character develops with each page turn. The pace in which the story unfolds is gripping, so too is the action, and there is mounting excitement and tension as the decades pass and the two diametrically opposed mimic’s paths intersect. (Highlander) tropes abound as both have embedded themselves into human history, making do with their special shape-shifting abilities.
All this was very cool.
Now, if it weren’t for the central human character and his middle-age crisis story arc, and the ‘tired and contrived’ (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) ending, this could have been an outstanding work of SF. The evil alien antagonist wasn’t helping either. Where there was scope to explore some genuine villainy, instead the character delved into the cliche world of Nazi bad guy strudel.
I enjoyed this read immensely but it remains for me a major ‘if only’ science fiction novel.
Was it worth the read? Yes, with a smidgen of disappointment.
Haldeman fans will forgive, others may not.
There Is No Darkness
This novel was my first introduction to the Haldemans. Coauthored by brothers Joe and Jack, it is still one of my favourite works of science fiction.
Carl Bok is a student of Starschool. Because he’s from Springworld, a heavy gravity planet with harsh weather and wildlife, he bigger than your average pupil and a lot poorer. All he has is his pride and something to prove.
On the Earth leg of the excursion, he gets involved in prise fighting, unintentionally roping in his roommates. They fight tournament after tournament, but even though he loses in the end, Carl learns a lesson in fealty.
Next, they visit a planet called Hell. This is where sovereign governments go to fight their conventional, regulated wars. Carl and his colleagues, who are now his friends, are kidnapped and forced to serve in a mercenary army.
Then they travel to The Construct, an ancient alien artefact that has become a hub for hundreds of alien species who’ve set up shop to trade information.
The best aspect of this book is Carl’s growing friendship with the other students. They are each funny and charming in their own way, as they band together to face a brave new universe.
This will resonate with fans as much as any other of his work.
The Bluezone: Somewhere deep within this last bastion of democratic society, segregated from the chaotic slums and destitute refugee camps, lurks a technology that could either push civilization further into the abyss, or bring forth its salvation. Struggling to save his innovative hybrid techno-finance company from malign threats leftover from twenty-two years of severe economic depression, a young uberman ends up fighting for his life against ruthless enemies. Not that James Tucker, a war veteran and corporate Uberman by the age of nineteen, and a staunch proponent of alternative economic theorem, minds putting his life on the line. At stake is the destruction of his country, the disillusionment of his fans, and the prospect of betraying a promise he made to his daughter. THE BLUEZONE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
When I scored this freebie there was never a thought in my mind I would end up compelled to go through the motions and give it a review. Yet here I am. The pleasure of knowing your reading some little gold nugget that no one else has discovered is why I scavenge all the free ebooks I can download, looking for that little gem. This I’m ashamed to say is one of those. As with most free crap out there you read the first three chapters, you give up and move on to the next. This one I gave up after the third chapter, only to return to it a weeks later.
Why? I just had to find out why the AI’s in this book were so retarded. The fact that they “may or may not believe the human world actually exist” intrigued me. Next thing you know I’m sucked in. The story is set in a familiar high tech corporate world, but with added brutality. We have a protagonist facing off with ”uber gangsters, some friendly, some not so friendly, some just plain deadly. Nearly everyone here is a bad guy. It’s a world where there is no respite from violence, threatened, present or otherwise. Even in the non-action chapters there is a sense of danger about to befall any given character. There is enough future tech stuff here to appease fans of future tech stuff. There is plenty of nasty politics and dubious notions of economics. There are jetpacks, self driven automobiles, ‘turbocopters’, five or so different internets and some really retarded AI’s and no I never found out why they were so stupid but I did find them very unlike what we’d expect AI’s to be. There is also some really crazy dialogue, some of it hilarious but some outbursts were so weirdly demented at one point even the main AI was left scratching its virtual head. And after trudging through the first act, fighting through the second and free falling in the third towards a preposterous finale you come to the end and feel a tad guilty for enjoying this book. Very much like a B grade scifi flick, you’re sucked in and because you have nothing to compare it to you can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad.
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I never imagined when I started this blog that it would take me a year to get around to reading something, but it has. Nevertheless, this was a really good story. It was action packed and moved at a good pace. Unfortunately, the copy I received had numerous misspelled words, incorrect word usage, missing words and the like. Though this made me pause at many points, I did enjoy the story and found myself invested in the main character, James Tucker.
This story is written in a time when the government has all but collapsed and the world is run by corporate thugs and gangs that run the corporations. There are a lot of things about this book that I can’t even begin to give a succinct explanation about, such as zoids and hypergoblins, which are technological entities that assist or inhibit humans during their daily lives. Imagine that your cell phone earpiece was sentient with a personality of its own, but wasn’t quite sure the human world existed. I’m sure you can see how this could become a problem given the gang situation in this story and yet that explanation probably isn’t detailed enough to really give you an idea of what these little gizmos can do.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. It kept me on my toes and was definitely an original piece. I have yet to read another story like this one. Not to say that they don’t exist, but so many books and so little time. If it weren’t for the fact that it could use some serious proofing, I would heartily recommend it. Given the fairly serious lack of editing on the Kindle version I received, I’ll leave this one up to your judgment. If you can stand the mistakes, I think the story itself was really interesting. Despite my comments about the proofing, I found myself coming back to the story to see where the next chapter led as the main character spent the majority of the book in a convoluted mess of corporate thugs and running for his life.