the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘spaceships

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach

published in 2010

Where I got it:  the library

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Beyond the obvious, food, water, energy, what would we need for a trip to Mars? The aeronautical engineers have already done all the math for us, they know to within a miligram exactly how much food and water can get sent up in a rocket needing how much fuel.  But what about everything else?

What about everything we take for granted down on Earth, that suddenly become much more difficult when there is little to no gravity?  What kind of clothes would you wear? how would you take a shower?  Can you eat a sandwich? Enjoy the smell of vanilla flavored cookies? What goes in must go out, so how would you go to the bathroom in zero gravity? Even worse, what if free fall makes you sick to your stomach?

Leave to to Mary Roach to find the truth, the deepest darkest details of what we need for space.  From parabololic flights on NASA’s specially outfitted military plane (known coloquially as the vomit comet) to speaking with Russian cosmonauts, polar scientists, veterenary food specialists and marine biologists, Roach finds that everything that could possibly go up in a rocket or shuttle must be tested, tested, and tested some more by folks willing to sleep for weeks or experience high end G-forces.

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Faith-Rework.2.21Faith, by John Love

published in January 2012

where I got it: purchased New

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Remember Peter Watts’ Blindsight?  Blend it with Moby Dick, and then imagine it was written by Gene Wolfe. Now ramp up the tension and suspense to eleven.  It’s hard to believe Faith is a debut novel. It reads so smooth and subtle that as the pages fly by under your fingers, all you feel is the copper tang of a nameless fear.

Faith has a slow start, and this is exactly as it should be.  Otherwise, we would never know the subtle ironies of the Sakhran race, how they live together, but live apart, their sense of honor even as they were conquered by the Commonweath. Without the slower, gentler, understated start, we would never understand the pure and total demise of the proud Sakhran race, and how they didn’t even attempt to resist it.

Three hundred years ago and unidentified ship came to the Sakhran homeworld. Only one person among them understood what she was. He wrote a book, and when the book was read, the Sakhran race began to decline. Out of vicious irony, the Sakhrans named the ship Faith.  Like her namesake, she visits on a whim, and can destroy with a whisper, not knowing and not caring what she’s turned you into.  But this Faith offers only questions, never any answers.

Faith has returned, and the expanded Commonwealth of Planets believe they have the only weapon that can stop her.  The Commonwealth built nine Outsider ships.  Built in secret, and then pushed away as lepers, the ships are named after psychopaths and mass murderers. There is never any shore leave, and crew know to never return to their home planets. Aaron Foord, commander of the Charles Manson knows he is the Commonwealth’s only chance against Faith.  His crew are the dregs of humanity, the mistakes, the undesirables, the hidden criminals, perhaps, the anti-Faith. And those of his crew who aren’t human? some of them claim to have eaten their own children.

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With Larry Niven’s Betrayer of Worlds hitting shelves this week, I figured I better post my review of his Destroyer of Worlds. I originally published this review here.

Larry Niven’s lastest Known Worlds novel is fun, fast, and full of the remarkable aliens his fans have loved for years. Niven has always been known for his wonderfully freakishly alien aliens, and Destroyer of Worlds gives readers the opportunity to intimately know a new bizarre alien race. For readers new to Niven’s Known Worlds series, I suggest starting at Fleet of Worlds, the first book in this mini series, and you can go from there. And if you’ve ever read Niven’s classic SF novel Ringworld, it’s not deja vu, this is a prequel series.

We start off right where we ended in Juggler of Worlds – The planet New Terra is supposedly “free”, but their former Puppeteer masters don’t trust them, don’t want to help them, and still treat them like expendable servants. It is a precarious relationship indeed, as the overly cautious Puppeteers rely on the humans curious nature and the humans rely on the Puppeteers advanced technology.

As we saw in Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds, the supernova explosion at the center of the galaxy is spreading its waves of radiation, killing and sterilizing everything in its path. The humans and Puppeteers alike will need each others help to escape it and find new worlds to colonize. The radiation wave is moving fast, near light speed travel is faster, but the galaxy is bigger than you can imagine, and it still takes a long time to get anywhere. It may be generations until the wave reaches where the Fleet is right now, but Puppeteers have always been long term thinkers.

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Jon always works alone. Correction, Jon and his uberintelligent ship Lobo always come as a team, but after the contract is up, they are gone. Because Jon has a secret. And it’s not that Lobo is far more intelligent than he has any right to be. That’s an entirely different secret.

Jon and Lobo are asked by an old friend Alissa Lim to help infiltrate and liberate a rebel camp on the planet Tumani, currently in the throws of civil war. Tumani might be a backwater now, but it’s location puts it on the border of two colonizing coalitions, and a very wealthy investor has decided this planet needs to be ready when the coalitions realize how important it is. The rebel forces have been ravaging the jungles – burning villages, killing adults and girl children, and taking the boys hostage, addicting them to drugs and turning them into children soldiers. The mission Jon and the team agree to is to liberate a camp of nearly 500 children soldiers, and help rehab the kids until they can be reunited with their families. Or adopted into new families, since their parents are probably dead.

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this review originally appeared here.

An action packed chase novel, Prophets involves light speed travel, trigger happy mercenaries, genetically engineered super warriors, questions on the morality of genetic engineering and the future of humanity, interstellar sabotage, and two very, very old brothers who are still fighting like little children.

Although I had no problem following what was going on, it should be mentioned that this is only Swann’s latest installment in his future history of humanity. Readers who are familiar with his Moreau series and Hostile Takeover trilogy will instantly feel at home with Prophets, but if you are new to Swann, don’t feel discouraged to start with Prophets and work your way backwards or forwards.

Most of the first half of the novel takes place on Bakunin, a “wild west” type planet, full of petty criminals, people who can’t go home, and the rest of the general scum of the galaxy. Home to independently wealthy Tjaele Mosasa, it’s certainly the best place to put together a team of mercenaries who won’t ask any questions because they don’t want any questions asked in return. Mosasa’s team is infiltrated by genetically engineered tiger man Nickolai Rajastahn, the exiled prince of his homeland, and Francis Mallory, ex-marine and now ordained father in the Roman Catholic Church. Nickolai is desperate to make enough money to gain passage home and has been employed by the mysterious Mr. Antonio to keep a close eye on Mosasa, and the Church is desperate to know why Mosasa is suddenly putting together an expedition to Virginis IX, a backwater where an impossible signal has originated.

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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.
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