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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The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

The Dark Forest is amazing. While the first book in the series, The Three-Body Problem, explains the history of how contact was made with the Trisolarians and their intentions, The Dark Forest details how humanity is trying to prepare for an unknowable future and what extent will we go to for survival. Let me just say, some of the ideas in this story, while being brilliant, are also scary. Sometimes simple solutions are the best answers. But, when dealing with time and space the answers can take decades, or even centuries to show themselves. There is a mix of old and new characters in this installment. Da Shi, a planetary defense officer, has returned. He is cunning, with street smarts that a lot of the more intellectual characters lack. However, our main character, Luo Ji, is new. He is an astronomer and sociologist who is tasked with becoming part of a UN project known as The Wallfacer Project. He is lazy and somewhat self-absorbed,...
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Bishop to Queen by Lexy Wolfe

Bishop to Queen by Lexy Wolfe

I have mixed feelings about Bishop to Queen by Lexy Wolfe. I didn't know it was the second in the series until I started to get this post ready. I did feel like this worked fine as a stand-alone and given the beginning and end of this one, I do wonder how the first fit in, but don't think I'll bother going back to read it. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading Bishop to Queen. I flew through it and maybe put off doing some work to read it instead. It was a fun book that moved along at a good pace. The characters were interesting and amusing if slightly one-dimensional. The idea of what makes a being human and what makes someone "good," while not a new topic in sci-fi, was explored well here. There were a couple of things I didn't like about the book too. First, as I mentioned, the characters were not a multi-dimensional as I could...
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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season is an amazing book. It's set on a post-apocalyptic earth that's plagued by constant seismic activity. This leads to frequent near-extinction events called "Fifth Seasons" that keep people always on alert. The evidence of past civilizations litters the planet -- ruined cities, incomplete 'stonelore' handed down from earlier generations, and strange obelisks that float through the atmosphere. The Sanze Empire has survived for centuries by harnessing the power of orogenes -- people born the ability to control their environment. The orogenes can stop earthquakes or start them. They can save cities, or draw power from living creatures and "ice" them. Their powers are terrifying but essential such a volatile world, so the empire develops a caste of Guardians who have the power to neutralize the orogenes when necessary. The orogenes are held in contempt and called "roggas" by ordinary humans. Despite all their power, they cannot control their own lives. They are either hunted down and destroyed...
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