400 Billion Stars by Paul McAuley

400 Billion Stars by Paul McAuley.

Three books in three days! That doesn’t happen very often.

Dorthy is an empath and she can read minds. After going to a special school where they have implanted a controlling device that prevents her from being bombarded by everyone’s thoughts she goes on to train as an astrologer. Her empathic talent can only be activated by a pill she takes if necessary.

The human race has expanded to cover several systems and is now at war with an enemy that evades capture to the point of destroying ships and even worlds if it looks like they will be captured. In its ever expanding search for new planets, the space navy discovers a new and rather oddly located planet which for the most part looks uninhabited but lower life forms are discovered. Again after much scientific research, nothing is discovered about this seemingly harmless lifeform.

Dorthy is conscripted into the scientific team to see if she can gain any new insight through her empath talent as some theories seem to point to this lifeform might be an ancestor of the humans enemy. She does not want to be there and hates it but gets on with her job.

Although rather slow this is a brilliant story of human civilisations expansion, discovery of other worlds and lifeforms. There is some good hard science fiction as well. The human characters aren’t easy to like whereas the newly discovered lifeforms seem to simply exist with no real meaning to their lives, so they gender no emotional feeling in this reader.

This is his debut novel and the first of the 400 Billion Stars trilogy by McAuley

The Omega Theory: A Novel by Mark Alpert

The Omega Theory: A Novel by Mark Alpert

David Swift, our hero, is a science historian and his wife Monique Reynolds is a quantum physicist, so you already know this is going to be full of science based fact and fiction. In the first book, The Final Theory, David is the one doing the running as he evades the FBI who accuse him of murder. This time around David is the one doing the chasing. His adopted autistic son has been kidnapped because he has a mathematical mind and knows the code for The Final Theory from the first book.

In this book, two scientists on opposite sides of the world have invented a machine that can spot disturbances in space-time and they discover such a shift after a nuclear test in Iran. This all points to someone else knowing The Final Theory. David’s son is then abducted and the chase begins.

We are taken on a rollercoaster ride from North America to Israel, Iran and Turkmenistan as David evades insurmountable odds to rescue his son but eventually all the baddies get killed and David and his small team of helpers save the day though miraculously David, Monique and their adopted son are 3 of not many more survivors.

The science is almost overwhelming yet Alpert manages to make it all understandable and the storyline is gripping, a real edge of your seat page turner. The baddies are religious and believe they are saving the world and everything on it and for the most part, the goodies seem fairly non-religious. Though a lot of the action takes place in the Middle East, the baddies are American that have managed to co-opt other nationals to their cause.

This is good fun to read as long as you take none of it seriously, otherwise certain people may be upset by the stereotypes that are used throughout the book.

One interesting geological fact within the story is the piece set around the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan. I had to check if this was a real place and sure enough I found the Wikipedia entry. Alpert also mentions it at the end of the book.

The Power by Naomi Alderman.

The Power by Naomi Alderman.

Some slight spoilers, nothing major

What a thought provoking read! Woman in control of men!

I have to say I really enjoyed this book. It gave me plenty to think about. To start with, the author seems to think that eventually nothing would change if women had the upper hand in politics, business etc. Apart from birth giving very little would change at all, one half of the species would be dominated by the other half. Now none of us ‘educated’ people really wants it to be this way but sadly it is and I have to say I see nothing wrong with everyone being equal. Afterall we are all human……aren’t we?

Then there is the religious aspect. For the most part the author blames (if that’s the right word) religion for many of the problems that women faced before the cataclysm. I think she could easily be right too. I can’t think of any modern religion where women head the respected high positions. She then turns this on it’s head so that religion is still the major mover and motivator in her society yet now men are the ones who are mutilated or killed at birth as being seen as unwanted and undervalued. Not a totally different society, just a society run totally opposite to the one before the cataclysm.

I enjoyed how the book was presented in terms of short excerpts from the characters lives but each excerpt was an important part of them coming to terms with the new society. Allie, the abused teenager becoming a ‘messiah’. Roxy, a child that had seen her mother murdered, whose father was a gangster and how she had been drawn into the underworld but eventually saw how everything she was doing was wrong and benefited no one. The others also went through life changing moments.

The finale was a little surprising, I suppose the cataclysm did have to happen and society did have to rebuild from the stone age. I imagine it could never really happen any other way.

A definite read in my humble opinion.

Book Review: The Pathfinder Project by Todd Stockert

The Pathfinder ProjectThe Pathfinder Project by Todd M Stockert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad read with some intriguing concepts. There are some elements that seem a little contrived, the way religion is brought into the story seems more like an afterthought in that the author almost struggled to find an ending and included those parts of the story as a late edit to suit the finale.

The human interactions are quite strong and well written though and when in this mode I found it hard to put down as I always wanted to know what would ultimately happen to the characters, which is a good thing.

The finale is also a little weak, I was hoping for something more detailed perhaps but overall i enjoyed the journey.

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Book Review: Radix

RadixRadix by A.A. Attanasio

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sadly this became a bit of a chore to read. It starts off so well then just seems to meander with no real purpose. The finale, though not a complete let down, is rather trite.
Certainly not worth the hype it recieved on it’s original publication

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