Two hundred thousand feet up, things go horribly wrong. An experimental low-orbit spaceplane breaks up on reentry, falling to earth over a trail hundreds of miles long....
The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto.....
In this sweeping, threaded narrative of the global phenomenon known as the Vampire Wars, mankind is unwittingly infected by a millennia-old bacteria unknowingly exhumed by a scientific expedition in Antarctica....
On the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed...or dead....
Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond....
Imagine for a moment that you are a Dragon. A creature of unimaginable power, unending intelligence and strength, and you've just woken from 10,000 years of slumber....
A hero without peer or scruples, Sam Gunn has a nose for trouble, money, and women, though not necessarily in that order....
One night when he was 10, Tyler stood in his backyard and watched the stars go out....
When Brendan Doyle is flown from America to London to give a lecture on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, little does he expect that he will soon be traveling through time and meeting the poet....
What's a private detective to do in a future where nothing is private? That's Ted Lomax's problem....
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives....
This coming of age tale follows Leisha Camden. She is the first person genetically altered before birth so that she does not need to sleep....
Only a few know the terrifying truth - an outcast Earth scientist, a rebellious alien inhabitant of a dying planet, a lunar-born human intuitionist who senses the imminent annihilation of the Sun....
Joe is impressed into service by the alien Congressional Ground Force - and becomes the unwitting centerpiece in the alien struggle for independence....
Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars....
A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse....
It is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge....
After an unfortunate spaceship accident, the hedonistic human Lutt Hansen Jr. finds himself sharing his body and mind with a naïve alien dreamer....
Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of 'Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans' lives.
Life isn't as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff's brother, Carl, and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant X-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.
In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony's resource manager - a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She's more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of 'Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty-contest competitor. Her maneuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.
This book was a bit of an odd pastiche of various classic science fiction elements that was never bad, but never kept me on the edge of my seat. The novel is told from two perspectives during a crisis in an asteroid colony: an administrator and a young "rocket biker." The teenager sections feel like classic YA science fiction (Heinlein, perhaps), where a kid (whose parents obviously don't understand him) and his gang of friends keep being in the right (or wrong) place, and therefore have a chance to be heroes repeatedly. The administrator is written with some interesting nuance, but never becomes emotionally engaging.
The same problems with the characters - obviousness mixed good, but not compelling, ideas - color all the other parts of the novel. There is some very detailed technical world building, but also lots of hand-wavy bits. There is some interesting future sociology, mixed in with SF cliches, like the US devolving into the "Christian States of America." There are some nice action scenes, but the pieces are put in place in ways that make the novel seem forced.
This isn't a failure of a novel, but it is less satisfying then, say, Levianthan Wakes, which has a lot of similarities (near future, near Earth space opera). If you are looking for a long classically-inspired science fiction novel, this might work for you, but I don't think it is worth the time. The reader, however, is excellent.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This book has all the elements of a great old-school baroque space-opera (including young adults saving the universe, emergent digital intelligences, and fun with orbital mechanics), with some new twists (ubiquitous reality TV fishbowling). There are occasional very minor continuity problems, but they don't get in the way. Ms. Cambpell is versatile, and each of the many characters has a unique voice. Highly recommended!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This book was almost like pulling an old worn paperback off my shelf full of classic sci-fi novels. The idioms of contemporary SF are all there -- transhumanism, singularities, nanotechnology, ubiquitous computing and surveillance -- but the story is pure Golden Age sci-fi.
Phoecea is an asteroid colony on the precarious edge of survival and profitability. To increase their income, they have cut a deal with an Earth-based media corporation to broadcast everything that happens on Phoecea for a reality TV show called 'Stroiders. Although the constant live feeds from floating "motes" do play a role in the story, the effects are largely unseen, as the vast Earthling audience is so remote from Phoecea and there doesn't seem to be much interaction with the inner system worlds. Thus, the "reality TV show" angle doesn't get used much.
Phoecea also depends on water collected from asteroids, and this is how the villains of the story, a corporate front for the Martian mafia, seek to take over Phoecea. After a disaster destroys most of the colony's H20 reserves, the mobsters are the only ones who can bring enough water to save the colonists in time, unless they find another source. And to make matters worse, the disaster also unleashes an Artificial Intelligence, or "feral sapient," that escapes into the wild, taking up residence in Phoecea's computer network.
The main character is engineer Jane Navio, resource manager of Phoecea. She tries to negotiate a way to save the colony that won't hand it over to the Martian mafia, in the face of opposition from quisling bureaucrats, treacherous coworkers, and a mysterious cult of transhumanists whose allegiances are uncertain.
There is also a group of teenagers whose discovery of a "sugar rock," laden with ice, may just save the colony, if the bad guys don't get it first.
It's a complicated setting with many elements and tons of science fiction, but the story, while involving several major subplots, is pretty straightforward, and Up Against It moves along with a pleasant mix of action, suspense, mystery, and sci-fi geekery. I found the writing to be perfectly suited to the job of describing the environment and telling the story, without a lot of stylistic flourishes, and the characters were all pretty interesting, though Jane was a much more fully fleshed out protagonist than Geoff and his teen sidekicks.
If you like rockin' good SF, especially of the sort favored by us SF fans who are getting a little long in the tooth, this is a fresh arrival in the SF field we know and love. It's certainly not a groundbreaking or genre-shaking entry, but it won't disappoint anyone who knows what they expect and want when they read it.
The performance by Cassandra Campbell was good. She handled both male and female voices well, and while I blinked a little at the bad guys' Irish brogue, it did rather fit the setting.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I really enjoy this book. It full of action and sub plots which made it a great read.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Good read with good narration. Good story, my only problem is the "teens saving the day" aspect. Pretty much all of the other characters are only in situations they seeked out, the kids accidently end up at the center of a few plotlines.
Story also takes some suspension of disbelief, the major event that starts the book is pretty unbelivable from an engineering standpoint. It's like building a nuclear plant on a fault line, just asking for trouble.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
nice high tech stuff, great AI, great plot in general. quite entertaining.
no details on the spaceships tho.
as good as Ben Bova or K.J. Anderson
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I really enjoyed this. It's definitely more of a classic SF novel with a heavy bent toward YA, but there are some adult themes here as well. The characters are fairly complex and well described. The opening scenes are terrific, drawing you in quickly and introducing the core details of the story. The strongest aspect of this work is the world building. Locke's vision of a possible future is very well considered and reasonably consistent.
I enjoyed the writing, story, and the narration. I'll look forward to more from this author.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a wonderfully complex admixture of hard science fiction and political intrigue set in the fragile ecosystem of a community living inside an asteroid. Characters are distinctively drawn and even familiar themes (emergent AI, troubled adolescents) are handled with some interesting innovations. Best features include the attention given to getting the biological science of living inside an asteroid right, the very clever twists on the emergent AI theme (I love the idea of "feral sapients"), the quite believable extension of ancient human political and criminal habits into space, and the rich, three dimensional characterizations of even minor players. Worst features are the sloppy physics in a few critical scenes, some predictable plot turns in several places, and the uneven integration of the AI perspective into the narrative arc. All in all, it is a compelling read, and the teasers at the end of the book guarantee that you will want to read the next volume, even while leaving you satisfied at the ending of this one. I'd give it 4.5 stars for story if that were possible.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
MJ Locke's Up Against It is futuristic story that takes place on an outlying asteroid. A bizarre factory accident that develops into sabotage puts the colony at risk and at the mercy of a Martian mob crime family and a feral sapient computer intelligence. Various individuals in the colony do their best to save their society from either total destruction or totalitarian takeover.
The sci-fi elements are minimal with standard space flight and engineering capabilities to force an asteroid to support life for thousands of people leading routine lives. There is intriguing nanotech as well as medical advances for longer lifespans and human genetic modifications. Artificial intelligence arises purely from complex computer systems, but with the novel twist of creating a language in song for communication as well as evolving from child to adult. Basically, the story revolves around two main characters, a teenager living in the shadow of an older and more favored brother and the commissioner of resources allocation for the asteroid who must deal with governmental politics, external forces, and advanced social media. The overlap of mob intention along with the feral sapient results in a complex detective mystery to identify everyone's true motives.
The narration is well done with a solid range of voices for both genders.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Geoff and his friends on the asteroid Phocaea, just graduated from school, pull of an epic technical hack. They successfully dodge the omnipresent camera remotes of "Stroiders, a reality show broadcasting the lives of the Phocaeans to the entire system. It's a triumph.
It's quickly followed by someone's shocking act of sabotage that kills Geoff's brother, wtih Geoff and his friends, as well as Carl's boss, arriving too late to save him.
And even that is just the start.
The sabotage that kills Carl starts a meltdown of a delivery of much-needed water and methane ice, vital not just to the colony's economy but its survival.
Jane, the colony's resource director, has a major disaster on her hands.
It's also a political crisis. The sabotage might be part of a plot by that Martian mafia to engineer a takeover of Phocaea. Jane has to juggle resources, technical issues, and politics to attempt to avert either mass death, or political takeover by the mob.
The worldbuilding is well thought out, and the characters are interestingly complex. The plot moves along, and is nicely intricate.
But what really hooked me on this one is that it has the feel of The Good Old Stuff, without the 1950s social dynamics. Gender equality and racial/ethnic equality are taken for granted. (Well, standard human ethnic/racial equality. This future sill has its issues. What Locke has done with the Viridians is really interesting.)
It's a great read or listen, and I look forward to more from Locke.
I bought this audiobook.