the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘exploration

Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter

Published Aug 1 2017

where I got it: purchased new

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Stories about generation ships are nothing new, we tend to see a good crop of them every year. The novel might focus on the disenchanted middle generation that didn’t leave Earth, and won’t see their destination, or perhaps deal with a mutiny, or a malfunction on the ship, or the fact that their destination planet can’t support human life.  What I’m saying is that for the most part, many of us have seen this story before.

 

In Noumenon, Marina J. Lostetter goes in a somewhat different direction, and succeeds through the magic of ultra-fast pacing. It sounds counterintuitive, right? Speed up the pace of a story, to tell the story better? In Noumenon it works, and creates a unique situation for what might have otherwise been a forgettable novel.

 

The first few chapters race by – an interstellar mission is funded, a subdimension drive is invented and tested and engines are built, an AI is designed around a common personal assistant program. In these early chapters you’ll find yourself turning the pages faster than you realize. The prose is easy on the eyes, the characters are easy to get along with, we see everyone at their best, and we’re science fiction fans so of course we’re cheering for an interstellar mission!  And before you know it, we’re in spaaaaaace!

 

A few decades later, the implications of the twist start to hit.  These aren’t just any regular people on a colony ship.  Don’t think I’m spoiling things, because this is the least of the spoilers – the ship is crewed by genetic clones of the people who were chosen to go.  When those clones age and “retire”, new clones will be born.  If “Bob” is a biologist (making that up as an example) then every Bob who is every born on the ship will always grow up to be a biologist.  The colony ship will always have just as many pilots, communications experts, doctors, teachers,  sanitation workers, and scientists as it needs.  Only one “Bob” is ever alive at a time, but there’s usually always a Bob walking around somewhere.  Pretty interesting idea!

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The Stars are Ours! by Andre Norton

Published in 1954

where I got it: borrowed from a friend

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Using her own Encycl0pedia Galactica device, Norton gives the reader a very quick introduction to the future: a series of cold wars led to government and military funded science, which lead to creation and use of weapons of mass destruction, which lead to loss of life and sudden fear and hatred of anything science related. Knowledge was spurned as evil, and anyone with a drop of “scientist blood” in them were rounded up and imprisoned.  (this futuristic fear of science is showing up a lot. . . a reaction to everyone’s sudden fear of Atomic weaponry, the Cold War, and what humanity truly is capable of destroying?)

But the scientists and their families have survived.  Lars Nordis is one such scientist, and he and his young daughter Dessie and brother Dard live in a ramshackle farm where they in turns starve and freeze. Lars holds scientific secrets, and he makes Dard memorize a series of numbers, although he won’t tell Dard what the numbers mean.   I believe Dard and Dessie are synethsetes of some sort, and do wish that had been explored more.

After a raid by the Peacemen that destroys their home and kills Lars, Dard and Dessie have no choice but to find the rumored underground scientists who Lars has been doing work for.  Dard finds them, and after helping them defend their hideouts from the Peacemen, they happily accept Dard and Dessie into their group.  But what of the formula Dard memorized? What does it mean and who is he supposed to give it to?

This is where the story got really good for me.

The scientists are so desperate, they are willing to take incredible changes to leave planet Earth.  They have built a spaceship and plan to escape Earth and find a new home. But the risks loom large. The long sleep formula might not work.  The formulas stolen from an enemy “Voice” (computer) might not be correct. The ship might get hit by an asteroid. They might run out of fuel before finding a suitable planet. But still, they go.  With high hopes, they risk everything they have, including their families, for a slim chance of finding a new place to live. If Earth doesn’t want them, they will take to the stars!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.