Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

I don't really have much to say about Consider Phlebas. It's fun and the plot keeps moving forward. At the same time, the story is rather small for the length of the book, Yeah, there are sidequests that fill out time and give interesting peeks into the world, but the basic race to find the Mind is a lot of lead up to a bit of a letdown. The characters are morally grey, a bit of good and bad and a lot of violence. But don't get too attached to any of them. I guess I want a happy ending, even in my space operas, and this didn't provide one. I guess the Culture novels each pretty much work as stand alones. I'll probably read The Player of Games, #2, but I don't know that Banks will become a favorite author. ...
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Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

We play a lot of board games at our house. One that hits the table regularly is Terraforming Mars; it's probably my husband's favorite. The game is based on Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinsons, which I finally got around to reading after having it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. So I may be a bit biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Red Mars follows the first hundred people on Mars, the ones who begin the colonization/terraforming. The story follows several viewpoints and they are all incredibly strong, tough, smart people who got to Mars on a variety of skills and the ability to more or less hide their nuttiness. None of them are wholly likable, but they each have their own motivations and their own visions of what Mars can/should become. The book touches on a lot of themes. We have religious groups and social groups. We have the realities of living on a different planet,...
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Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Death's End is the conclusion to the fabulous Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The Trisolarans and Earth are basically at a stand-off, thanks to events in book #2. The "peace" is working well, but of course can't last. Enter Cheng Xin, our main character for this installment. She's a regular, intelligent woman who hops through time, thanks to hibernation, making bad decisions. Maybe that's harsh. She makes decision consistent with her character, but she was more or less put in charge of humanity's fate twice, which seems a little unlikely. it works within the plot, but the story works hard to get you there. Death's End is a tough book to talk about. On the one hand, it's amazing. The scale in time and space that the author is working with is enormous and he makes it believable without making it too easy. There's a lot of science here, I feel like it was explained well enough for me...
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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I almost didn't read Project Hail Mary. I enjoyed Weir's Artemis, but had no interest in The Martian, and a lot of reviewers commented that it was a return to the style of The Martian. But, I had a copy from NetGalley and I have a friend who will definitely be reading it, so . . . Turns out, I actually enjoyed it. It's smart and funny and accessible. There was a lot of science and some of it got a little boring, but I never felt like I was lost in the details. Alien microorganisms, astrophage, are consuming the sun’s energy, which will sooner rather than later make Earth colder and lead to another ice age. Ryland Grace, our narrator, is an 8th-grade teacher is a scientist who becomes involved in researching this phenomenon. He wakes up on the Hail Mary, part of a suicide mission to find a way to save Earth. The book shows two timelines, Ryland...
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Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi

Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi

First, go back and listen to The Dispatcher if you haven't already. Murder by Other Means is the sequel and I don't think it would be best as a stand-alone. The world is pretty much like our world except 99.9% of murder victims come back to life, transported from the murder scene to someplace they feel safe, usually their home. Tony Valdez is a dispatcher, someone who steps in and kills you when you’re at risk of an unintentional death, like a car accident or unsuccessful surgery, letting you live 99.9% of the time. This time around, Tony is taking some jobs that are maybe not as legal as he would like, but money is getting tight all around. It starts going awry when he is hired to help a businessman make it to China quicker than he could by plane. Then he's a witness to a bank robbery that goes bad. When people start dying and Tony needs...
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Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Set in the near future in Nigeria, Rosewater shows us a world where not much has changed. There are still the rough edges, violence, greed, poverty and prejudices. There are also aliens. Well, an alien. In 2012, a giant alien lifeform, known as “Wormwood,” landed in London and began moving through the Earth’s crust. America went "dark”, and in Nigeria a giant alien biodome popped up in 2055. It occasionally radiates healing rays that are also capable of raising the dead. A city, Rosewater, has grown up around the dome. The story unfolds in three separate timelines that can get a bit confusing. It's told throughout in the first person by Kaaro. He's a psychic, a former thief who now works for a secret arm of the government. He can read minds, replay past events, and even manipulate people. Kaaro and few others like him can connect to the xenosphere - a psychic link to what appears to be the...
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