The Dark Side

By Anthony O’Neill
Reviewed by SA

Give me a fantastic Sci Fi any day, and I wont be able to move until I’ve finished reading it. With The Dark Side, I physically could not put it down, or else I would be stuck thinking about it every second until it was in my hands again. This book was gripping, thrilling, clever, and even funny, with such amazing science that I was completely engrossed from page one.

Summary27276286

In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon.

Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself—and his equally ambitious daughter—are the chief suspects.

Meanwhile, two-thousand kilometers away, an amnesiac android, Leonardo Black, rampages across the lunar surface. Programmed with only the notorious “Brass Code”—a compendium of corporate laws that would make Ayn Rand blush—Black has only one goal in mind: to find Purgatory and conquer it.

The name Anthony O’Neill is going to soon become synonymous with impeccable world building. This author evokes a rich, complex world that follows the laws of science themselves. As a science geek, I absolutely loved how he infused the novel with the small details: like the large rain you would get in a humid hab on a rock where the gravity is so much lighter. Or the beautiful dust clouds created where the night meets day on the moon’s surface. Those beautiful, evocative details create a believable world you could almost imagine being in.

Not only that, but before each encounter with Leonardo Black, the Android walking the moon just to follow a set of programmed motivationals, the author details the life of the character who’s about to come into play. He shows us what it’s like back on earth, what it is to be a criminal in this near future. What line of thought can bring a person to live on the moon. The complexity of his background characters is astounding, and I honestly think he could write an entire book about each of them.

I myself could have read an entire book about Leonardo Black. This android was hilarious, even in his murderous rampage. His Brass code sounds like something out of the mouth of Donald Trump or Ann Rand. For example, he literally cannot spell surrender. He is motivated by a need to “Find Oz” and “become the wizard.” He’s a psycho, and yet he was my favorite character.

The main plot revolves around an Exiled cop, detective Justus, who’s trying to stop a wave of murders int he city of Purgatory. At first, I didn’t see how this storyline met  with that of Leonardo Black, but it all came together in the end in a really creative way. I loved how it felt like a noir detective novel from the 1950s, only set on the moon in a scientifically accurate future.

This book was pure FUN. I loved it. Think “The Martian” crossed over with a 1950s Noir novel. Fun for fans of thrillers and science fiction alike!

This novel comes out June 28th from Simon & Schuster.

Moxyland

by Lauren Beukes
Reviewed by SA

Prepare yourselves for an insane thrill ride, not for the feint of heart. This novel is everything a science fiction novel should be an more, and you’re going to fall in love with Beukes’s writing. And you’ll probably come out hating humans, but we all need a good dose of that from time to time.

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A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.

Moxyland is very character driven. All four characters live in South Africa, and their lives all intersect and their paths cross in interesting ways. And each of them are just so incredibly relatable: they’re all a little hot-headed, maybe entitled, self absorbed, and cynical about the world they live in. Whether they like it or not, they all have an important role to play.

We have Kendra, the artist, who’s trying to be independent: she joins a nanotech research program/marketing scheme, which will change her life forever. There’s Lerato, who’s trying to climb the corporate ladder while still hating the corporations. Ten, a activist who slowly begins to cross the line into terrorism, and Toby, a gamer and blogger who just wants to live his comfortable lifestyle. They all have different views of the world they live in, many too comfortable to do anything to change it, while others may try and do too much. it can all end in tears.

The future that Burkes imagines for South Africa is a very plausible one. Everyone is very dependent on their smart phone, as it carries their identity, their bank account, and will even be used in riot control or police arrests. Losing your phone is being tossed out of society. This, and other cool technologies I won’t spoil for you, made so much sense for the world of tomorrow.

The plot itself is a little complicated to get into at first, to see how everyone fits together, but it grows until a climax that is absolutely heart stopping. Seriously, I could not put this book down. It was so exciting, and terrifying… but no, no spoilers!

The novel is also a bit of a social commentary on us (well, a lot of a social commentary), about the power of consumerism and corporations, about complacency, about giving up our freedoms for perceived comfort. It’s not exactly eye opening, but still an amazing study. It kind of makes you hate us current humans.

For fans of Snow Crash, and cyberpunk, who love classics like Brave New World. This book will leave you breathless.

A new paperback edition comes out 16 Aug 2016 from Mulholland Books.

 

Zero World

by Jason M. Hough

Reviewed by SA

I didn’t think I’d find another thrilling science fiction book this summer, but I was proven wrong the second I picked up this amazing novel. Thrilling, intriguing, smart and most of all, fun, this novel rocketed up high on the list of my favorite books of 2015. There’s so much to love about this novel, and if you’re looking for one last book to read this summer, make sure it’s Zero World.

Summary – From Goodreads

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.
 
Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

The basic premise of the novel – if it can even be called basic – is what really got me. I hadn’t read the blurb before picking up the book, so it started off as a particularly well written novel about an assassin whose memories are wiped after every mission. Already pretty cool. But only a chapter or two in, they send you into space. Then the author ads the extra dimension of a TWIN EARTH. And then… then it becomes much more. I was, in a word, captivated.

I seriously could not put this book down: I wanted to know everything, about this new world, about the mission. So much happens in such a small amount of time! There’s no time for the novel to slow down, it keeps going strong, against the clock, forcing Peter to push himself to his limits. It’s so fast paced you’ll need running shoes to keep up.

It’s amazing that in such a fast, action packed novel, there is still room for character development. Peter begins as a hardened assassin, but as details of his mission start to change, he does too. It’s almost as if he is an entirely different man from one minute to the next, and the man at the end of the novel is not the man we met at the very start.

Melni, the woman from the alternate earth, is an amazing woman, and develops alongside Peter during the course of this story. She too begins hardened and focused, and in the end, her focus has shifted to a much larger scope than she had started with… though I won’t give you any spoilers there. She is an outcast in this world, but also a talented spy, with firm conviction and amazing skill. I liked moving to her perspective, have her view of Peter to balance with Peter’s view of her world. It was fantastic writing, as you would really tell the difference between whose mind you were in.

The relationship between the two of them just works. There’s a chemistry there – nothing sexual – just a great match and great teamwork. While Peter and Melni didn’t always see eye to eye, they managed to plan (which Peter hates) and get the job done. I am so glad to have read a great book without a weird love story to set it off balance: their relationship only served to add balance to the novel.

But my favorite thins about Zero World isn’t the plot or the characters – as awesome as they are – but the world building. My gosh! Creating this alternate Earth, a new history, with depth, huge events, small events, thinking all the way down to clothes and architecture, even considering the ethnic diversity of the population, and the discrimination! A work of art. The language, however bugged me – why are “shoes” now called “Treadmellows” but “boots” are still boots? It probably shouldn’t bother me, it’s such a small detail. But with all the attention everywhere else, it made me laugh just a little bit.

Now this book also comes with an entire novella, which is awesome as well. But reading on kindle, I was at 75% when the novel ended – I was shocked! I thought it had more to go! I think i even yelled at the book for ending too soon. I may be greedy, but I was more! I’m very excited for the sequel, which I hope comes out soon.

Zero World comes out August 18th. Be sure to pick it up – though I know you’ll never put it down.

On another note, the reason we didn’t write last week was because we both decided to take a week off and spend time with out families. Happy summer everyone!

The Girl With All the Gifts

by M.R. Carey

Reviewed by SA

This book may be impossible to review without giving away too much or spoiling it, but I am going to try, because this is one that I really enjoyed, and want you to read it to, experiencing it spoiler free, like I did. I am warning you that I may be deliberately vague in areas to ensure I don’t ruin it!

I only had a Goodreads summary to go by when i picked this book up, but it was enough to make me read it. Let me tell you, it was nothing like I expected just going by its looks, but it was so much more. It was one of those books that was so mesmerizing, so compelling, great by its unpredictability.

17235026“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.” – Goodreads Summary

Doesn’t tell you much, does it?

Melanie is our main character, a young girl of undetermined age (around ten?) who lives her life in routine, going to school, sitting in her room, going to school, sitting in her room – every day, the same thing, over and over again, for as long as she can remember. She loves school, loves to learn about the world that she has never seen, and above all, loves her teacher, Miss Justineau.

Both of their lives are going to be thrown upside down. Over, and over again.

The story centers around four main characters – Melanie, this ‘gifted’ girl; Miss Justineau, her teacher; Sergeant Parks; and Dr. Caldwell. Each has different intentions at heart, and as their lives are thrown together, they are tested in ways they could never have expected.

At the first twist of the novel, my initial thought was ‘oh no, it’s THAT kind of novel!’ but that thought was quickly dismissed for ‘wait… this is INCREDIBLE’. I had no problem with the new genre, as it defied every trope I knew. (Yes, vague, but I’m trying to allow you to enjoy this novel like I did.)

I love science, and one thing I hate is when novels use ‘science’ to explain what really fails to stand up on its own. Science fiction is at its best when it doesn’t over explain. Carey has somehow managed to write a novel that takes an old trope and makes it new, WHILE using science to support the concept. I absolutely loved it.

This novel combines so many genres, plays on so many ideas, while remaining simple at its core. It’s both an amazing thriller, a gripping horror, and a thoughtful science fiction. I highly recommend it to loves of apocalyptic novels (though it isn’t one, technically, but hey, deliberately vague here). However, I warning for those who hate gore, violence, and language. There is a bit of everything.