Two ships launch, but only one can come home with the prize - and no one suspects what they'll find when they get out there.
On June 30, 1908, an object fell from the sky, releasing more energy than a thousand Hiroshima bombs. A Siberian forest was flattened, but the strike left no significant crater. The anomaly came to be known as the Tunguska Event, and scientists have never agreed whether it was the largest meteor strike in recorded history - or something else. Alien artifacts have been uncovered since the 1908 event, and a new star drive is discovered. When another larger artifact is detected orbiting Jupiter, both NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency are determined to beat all rivals to the next treasure trove of alien tech.
©2014 B. V. Larson (P)2015 Audible Inc.
This type of story was different as it felt like a realistic play of events if something like this were to happen. Scrambling of governments, rushing ahead of the others, risking all in the process. It wasn't as flashy as some of the other scifi stories I've listened too but it felt real and sort of left a dark feeling on me. Not in a bad way, just made me wonder if something like this would play out in real life if this ever happened.
I'd like to sort of compare this to the movie contact. But not completely. Its a story about choices and decisions. So for me, it really stands out on its own.
There is a part towards the middle in which scientists face a decision that will affect humanity greatly. When I got to this part, I stopped and wondered what I would do. Even going out and asking others opinions. It was odd, I couldn't even think of a time in which I saw, read, or heard of anything like this before. It really made me think.
Decisions have lasting outcomes.
I'm a huge fan of this writer. Big fan. This story was different and was unique all in its own way. Each character was well created and explained. No one is safe to survive this story as I was shocked a few times. Many times I felt conflicted on what happened. Out of all scifi stores I've come across, this one really left a lasting feeling of how decisions could change everything about humanity. I can't say much without ruining it for anyone reading this but I will say, if you like scifi with a bit of a realistic spin to it, and maybe a bit of cloak and dagger this might be a good one for you. Don't expect space battles or anything like that but it stands alone as a good scifi story. This one is really good. I recommend it.
This book seems like a change for Mr Larson in that it is not military sci fi so there are no armies, battles or starships bristling with weapons (although it is hard to not think that that will change in the sequels). Instead we have both the US and Russian governments trying to get alien technology that was left on Earth about 100 years ago working. Both countries are after technology advances that they believe can be reverse engineered (or gotten in some other mysterious way) from the technology, but the sending of a signal from one of these “artifacts” back to its point of origin generates a race to get to the target spot and find what is there.
This book seems to be a bit unusual in the way the story is presented. While first contact books are fairly common in science fiction, few that I have read have results as horrifyingly bad as in this book. In addition, the characters themselves are a very mixed bunch in terms of the types they represent. While we do have a number of normal, likable people we also have more than just a few characters who are not only unlikable, but actually scary in the sense that it is difficult not to worry about people like these having responsible positions in any large organization or, in this case, government.
This is clearly the first book in a new series as little is resolved by the end of the book, but Mr Larson has given us a fairly well developed sense of who the characters are, what their strengths and weaknesses are and we begin to see the resolving personal relations between them. While I found the writing quite good (as is to be expected from Mr Larson) and the characters well formed and interesting I am not sure I will buy the sequel to this book. The story, while interesting, is not compelling and although it is easy to see what the next book will bring, it was difficult for me to believe that any reasonably intelligent group of people could, or would, make the decisions made by the characters in this book. On the whole, not one of my favorite Larson books. Good, in my opinion, but not great. Perhaps the sequel will be better.
The book is very well narrated by Mr Ballerini.
I read anything by BV Larson, i dig his style. This was a decent book. Id say the first 2 thirds of the story werent like anything by BV that ive read before, and i liked it. Then in the end classic BV came out. If you like the Star Force series, and a little espionage, read this.
Sometimes you start out enjoying a book and then several chapters in it reveals a premise so absurd you simply can't "suspend disbelief" enough to go on. I'm going to include a spoiler here because if I had known this myself I wouldn't have bothered purchasing this book. Namely: the plot rests on the laughable and easily disproved idea that advances such as lasers, integrated circuits and the f'r goodness sake lightbulb were derived from alien technology found in a secretly held crashed spaceship (Area 51 of course). This is one of the sillier premises of many a "History" Channel episode, and to me it is not just ill-informed (all those technologies have long and well-documented development paths that don't involve aliens) but actively offensive: they are genuine achievements by brilliant, hard-working human beings, and giving the credit to E.T. is something I find reprehensible even in a work of fiction.
Too bad, because Ballerini is a fine reader and the action sequences and character development were quite good up to the point where this premise was revealed. Kind of like enjoying the first several bites of a fine restaurant dinner and then a cockroach crawls out from under your salad.
Not typical Larson.
I would compare Daniel Suarez's Influx to Starfire up to a point (without giving away too much). But there are elements from other recent sci-fi novels that peek through here as well.
I am used to Mark Boyett reading BV Larson books. For the Star Force and Undying Mercenaries series, Boyett made sense. Those series have a lot of action to parse through quickly. Ballerini tends to slow things down a bit, which I think is appropriate for this book. His range is very good, as he portrays female characters very well, and handles a good Russian accent. I've only listened to one book done by Ballerini and I think he's definitely up there with my favorite narrators.
They're already here
Overall, a great book and definitely nothing I expected from Larson. I love Star Force and Undying Mercenaries, so to be honest I was expecting something along those line here. But I was pleasantly surprised to have read something altogether different.
A tough question, given the volume of audiobooks this reviewer has enjoyed over the years. That said, it warrants a thoughtful response. I would rate it in the top 25 %, and towards the top of that category.
It is complicated enough, and with enough twists and authentic characters that it grabs and retains the listener throughout.
The interactions between the Russian and American crews are fascinating, and the ongoing lack of trust, and resulting tensions, was highly entertaining.
I was trying to recall if I had or not, and it appears this was my first exposure, at least in recent times. He definitely owned the characters, was consistent with his accents and tone, and overall was extraordinary. He has moved into my list of top performers just with this one offering.
Nothing extreme, but certainly chuckled a few times, and was shocked by some of the "events" as they unfolded. Kudos to the author to keep the story arc fresh and always interesting.
This is an excellent offering, well produced and fresh. It is also a fine stand alone book, which is not something the listener finds in Sci Fi these days. ( However, the window is open for a sequel , if so desired.)
Highly recommended for many reasons!
I really enjoyed Swarm, BV Larsons first Star Force book. I read maybe 6 more. Swarm was just so weird and unusual it overcame the sub par writing style of Larson.
Starfire is kind of interesting. Its story is unusual. I wont be giving any thing away by saying the plot revolves around alien artifacts that have existed on earth for 100 years. America has used this tech for every great technology breakthrough over the last century.
The Russians find a new artifact. This sets off a race between nations to get to Europa first.
Larson is no Mark Twain. His prose and dialog is yawn inducing. He jumps from character to character using many points of view. (not many authors do the multiple POV well).
Id steer away from Starfire. The story is bleak, you don't enjoy the characters, only good thing going for it is Ballerini, maybe the best Narrator working today.
I am an avid reader of science fiction, adventure and technology. My hobbies consist of PC gaming, movies, 3D printing, and software dev.
Intriguing Riveting Unique
Perez, being the least useful character ends up being the person keeping it all together.
The narrator had a large range in voices and genders clearly defined.
This book is an epic story filled with espionage, human nature and a unique twist on human development and scope.
I have been tempted several times to read Larson's books. However, if this is the norm then I will probably pass on any further. The concept of this story was interesting, but it was never fully developed. Worse, it seemed that he was artificially rushed to end the story. The last several chapters felt more like outlines for chapters than complete narratives. I am left with the sense that at this stage in his career Larson doesn't feel the need to try very hard anymore.
There were some interesting parts of the story that I haven't read before and any other sci-fi book. I've enjoyed those parts a lot. However several cliché a story points bothered me a little bit.
1) The fact that every major character had a love arc some sort was a little like reading teenage novels.
2) The Russian and American governments are portrayed as a caricature of what a good vs evil government should be.
3) The overall the narration was good, however, the narrator sounded way too sincere The times and seem to be on the verge of crying. This was a little annoying to hear.
My apologies for mistakes and misspells this review was made on a text to speech application
"Not his best work"
Slow and lumbering. I finished because I'd started it but definitely didn't keep my interest like his other books.
"Looking forward to the next book"
This was an enjoyable book.
It's worth a listen and I will get the follow up book.
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