A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

First, go read A Memory Called Empire if you haven't yet. It's a fabulous book and I'm not sure you can fully understand/ enjoy A Desolation Called Peace without it. It's where we are first introduced to the Teixcalaan Empire, which spans across galaxies. It's an empire full of political intrigue and poetry. We also met Mahit Dzmare, the ambassador to Teixcalaan from Lsel Station, a small, independent mining space station with its own culture, identity, and most importantly technology. Lsel creates imagos, memory imprints that are designed to meld into the personality of the wearer and preserve the preceding generations of knowledge. This time around we meet the aliens, the ones killing people on the edges of the Teixalaan Empire. There is so much I could say about this book. The world-building is amazing and the aliens interesting, although maybe not unique. The main characters, and there are several, are each fully drawn with strengths and flaws and...
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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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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

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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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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