Genre: Science Fiction

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

Posted December 3, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 0 Comments

The Three-Body Problem by Liu CixinTitle: The Three-Body Problem (Goodreads)
Author: Liu Cixin
Translator: Ken Liu
Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1
Published: Tor, 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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In the People’s Republic of China 1967, it was a time where the Cultural Revolution was purging the country of all capitalist ideals. A group of scientists, part of a secret military project, send signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien race on the brink of destruction known as the Trisolarans capture the signal and now plan to invade earth. A deeply philosophical game The Three-Body Problem occupies the mind of many scientist which features a world with three suns, causing chaos and unpredictability; trying to understand the order is what motives these people. The Three-Body Problem is a first contact novel often referred to as a cross between Dune and Independence Day.

The Cultural Revolution makes for an interesting backdrop for this novel and I feel an understanding is essential to the story. The Cultural Revolution was a social-political movement that was set in motion by Chairman Mao to transform The People’s Republic of China into the true Communist ideal. This was a cultural purging to remove all remnants of capitalism and to some extent even getting rid of some of China’s traditional elements. The movement ran from 1966 to 1976, although Chairman Mao did declare it over in 1969, but the Red Guard were still very active in their mission all the way till the death of their military leader Lin Biao.

This was also during the height of the space race, Sputnik was the first artificial satellite to be launched into space in 1957, giving the Soviet Union an early lead. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is believed to have begun in the late 1950s, although their research into rockets were more focused on a ballistic missile program to help defend the country against the Americans and Soviets during the cold war. However China was still interested in space exploration and their first spacecraft to hold human occupancy, Shuguang-1, was designed in 1968.

Now, a three-body problem in physics, is a scientific process where you take initial data sets (position, masses, velocities, etc.) and determine the motion of the three bodies with the help of the laws of classical mechanics, such as Newton’s laws of motion. Historically the three specific bodies being studied were the Moon, the Earth and the Sun. This ties the title of the novel back to the space race and also predicting the world found in the game The Three-Body Problem. However this is only the beginning of trying to understand the workings of this novel and I have not even touched on the philosophical or social criticism aspects of The Three-Body Problem.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin1 won the Hugo award recently for ‘Best Novel’ and I found it to be an intriguing plot idea. I knew I had to read this, and I went in expecting something similar to Russian science fiction, where there was a lot of social commentary of what was happening within Communist China. This novel did not disappoint, I would compare this to the Russian first contact novel Roadside Picnic in the way it explored social and scientific ideals but then the philosophical elements remind me of the old sci-fi novels from the 1960s.

Special mention needs to be made to Ken Liu who did an excellent job of translating this book into English. I found myself looking forward to reading all his translation notes which explains historical and cultural references that Westerners like myself may not have known about. I also appreciate that he did not try to convert the narrative to a more accessible format but allowed outsiders a taste in the narrative structure found in Chinese books. I was really impressed with the first book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy and I would like to think I would read the rest of the series, but I know what I am like when it comes to finishing a series.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Posted October 29, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 0 Comments

The Windup Girl by Paolo BacigalupiTitle: The Windup Girl (Goodreads)
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Published: Orbit, 2009
Pages: 508
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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The Windup Girl is a debut novel for Paolo Bacigalupi, an author that seems to take present day issues and explore them in a science fiction setting. The Windup Girl is set in 23rd-century Thailand, and explores ideas around genetically modified ‘genehacked’ foods. Anderson Lake works for AgriGen’s Calorie, one of the three mega-corporations that control the biotechnology field, and controlling food production. Emiko is a Windup Girl, a beautiful creature, not human but rather a genetically engineered being.

The Windup Girl is a very difficult novel to summarise, but I do not really care about the plot; I picked this up for the themes. I knew this was going to be a biopunk novel that explores ideas of genetically modified food and bioterrorism but I was surprised with everything this book covers. With a food shortage, ‘calories become currency’, giving corporations with bio-engineering backgrounds the tools for larger profits and control. However, what happens when corporations have too much control?

I am sure people will dislike this book for being overly complex or dense, but I really think you need to ignore the plot at times and focus on the actual message. Paolo Bacigalupi has a lot of interesting ideas, genetically modified product is a slippery slope but food shortages will also become a problem. How do we find a balance? This bleak world really captures corporations in an interesting light, exploring the shocking tactics used for better profits, and the lack of compassion they have towards the people (or windups).

This debut novel, really catapulted Paolo Bacigalupi career; winning the Nebula Award for Best Novel, Locus Award for Best First Novel and sharing the Hugo Award for Best Novel with China Miéville’s brilliant novel The City & the City. Recently Bacigalupi released his sixth novel, The Water Knife that explores water shortages; a book I need to read as well. I like when science fiction novels explore interesting issues, this is why I prefer Soviet sci-fi or novels from the 1960s, but I think Bacigalupi is an author I will need to pay more attention to in the future.

August 2015 Mini-Reviews

Posted August 21, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: Black Girl / White Girl (Goodreads)
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Published: Fourth Estate, 2006
Pages: 272
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Black Girl / White Girl tells the story of Genna Hewett-Mead who is reflecting on a traumatic event in her past. Fifteen years ago, in 1975 while attending an exclusive women’s liberal arts college near Philadelphia, her roommate Minette Swift died a mysterious and violent death. Minette was a scholarship student and one of the few African American women to be let into the college. Genna, a quiet woman of privilege got to witness the effects of racism first hand as the racist harassment escalated from vicious slurs to something far worse. However whoever was responsible for this murder still remains a mystery to this day. I had never read Joyce Carol Oates before and I thought this may be my chance to experience her writing. The premise of this novel intrigued me and I was looking forward to uncovering the mystery at play. However, this turned out to be a novel about reflecting on the changing times; I was interested in learning about racism within America during the time of civil rights movements but this focused too much on Genna.

I understand that Joyce Carol Oates may not want to write a novel from the perspective of a person of colour, since she is Caucasian and probably could not do the situation any justice. Rather she took on the perspective of a woman of privilege experiencing the issue first hand. This may have made the book a little more autobiographical and allowed Oates to still explore the issue of racism. While I enjoyed this book, I did not find anything special about it. Maybe this was not the best example of Joyce Carol Oates’ writing but I will try more of her novels in the future.

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Testimony (Goodreads)
Author: James Smythe
Published: Harper Collins, 2012
Pages: 368
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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First there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others said it was the government and still others believed it was aliens. The whole world was brought to a halt but no one had the answers. The Testimony details the apocalypse from the perspective of twenty six people around the world. James Smythe is a master at writing science fiction that will really make you ponder life and The Testimony is no different.

I was curious to check out James Smythe’s debut novel ever since I discovered his novels. The Machine was my first Smythe and still remains my favourite although many do prefer The Explorer. For me, while The Testimony was a thrilling read, it just was not on the same level as the other books I have read. Dealing with so many different perspectives was a great way to capture the different opinions and question the events. However this novel was not overly impressive, still a great book but if I compare if to James Smythe’s other novels, it falls short. This is proof on just how far Smythe has improved and makes me excited to read something new by this great author.

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Firebird (Goodreads)
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2013
Pages: 539
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

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Nicola has a rare gift, she can touch an item and glimpse the lives of its previous owners. When she holds a small wood carving called The Firebird she sees a glimpse of Catherine I, wife and later successor to the Tsar Peter the Great. The Firebird is a fresh take on the time traveling romance genre, blending it with the ever popular paranormal romance genre. This is the second book in the Slains series by Canadian author Suzanna Kearsley.

My wife is a big fan of Kearsley and since this novel is partly set in Russian she thought I should check it out. There is some interesting aspects of the life and times of Peter the Great and allowed me to learn a little more about Russian history and culture. However there is something about this novel that I did not like. The Firebird is a story with no conflict and no antagonist and for me this meant it was a really boring novel. I understand people would read this book for the romance but I was uninterested in that story line, I was reading this for the Russian setting. Obviously I am the wrong person to judge The Firebird, it really was not my type of book.

Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

Posted May 13, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Something Coming Through by Paul McAuleyTitle: Something Coming Through (Goodreads)
Author: Paul McAuley
Published: Orion, 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Aliens exist, and now they need our help. After Earth is ruined by nuclear and environmental disasters, it is puzzling that humanity has been given fifteen habitable planets to start a fresh. The Jackaroo assist with the move to the new planets, infrastructure is built and humanity is saved. Chloe Millar is mapping out the changes caused by importing alien technology when she stumbles upon a pair of orphaned children that appear to be possessed by an ancient ghost. On one of the new planets, Vic Gayle is investigating a murder in a remote excavation site that could lead to a war between rival gangs. Something is Coming Through is a new novel by prolific science fiction novelist Paul McAuley.

Something is Coming Through interlinks the story of Chloe Millar and Vic Gayle, all the while trying to understand why the Jackaroo are helping humanity. The premise of this book sounded too intriguing to pass up; think a science fiction crime novel that explores the concept of first contact. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work within the book; it tries to do so much but everything moves too slowly to make it enjoyable. Even the Jackaroo sound like they are an interesting race but there is no real exploration into their motivations which really hurt the novel.

I am not sure if I am no longer into reading science fiction; it has been a while since I enjoyed this genre (with the exception of Russian sci-fi). Or maybe I just need to stick to the classics, those novels from the 60s and 70s that explore sociology and philosophy. I just found Something is Coming Through to be a very bland novel that relied too heavily on dialogue. I have to accept the fact that I enjoy novels with substance that explore themes or ideas over plot; this is why Russian sci-fi is still great.

 I struggle to find anything positive to say about Something is Coming Through; it is one of those occasions where I should have abandoned the book. I honestly cannot even remember why I decided to pick this book up but I was intrigued by the premise. Sadly I found nothing enjoyable about this novel and I do not know if I will try Paul McAuley again. I would like to think I was willing to try authors again but at the moment, there is no way.

Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted February 22, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeerTitle: Acceptance (Goodreads)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy #3
Published: Fourth Estate, 2014
Pages: 341
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Acceptance is the final instalment of the Southern Reach trilogy. It is winter in Area X and a new team is about to embark on a new expedition. The plan is to press deeper into the area and explore unexplored terrain. Will they finally find out the secrets behind Area X? What will Southern Reach do? And what is with this lighthouse?

Yet once again I am stuck trying to work out just what to say about this book, much like the other two novels in the series. I really don’t know what I can say without giving spoilers but I also have committed myself to write some kind of review with everything I read. Area X is a mysterious ecosystem; it is an environment that is untouched or corrupted by humans and yet Southern Reach is determined to discover the secrets behind this mystery.

Within Annihilation the readers are introduced to Area X and we are allowed to explore this new world, but there were so many questions being raised without many answers given. I loved this about Annihilation; I was thrilled by everything in this novel and I knew I had to read the series to find out the answers. Authority explored the mystery behind the governing organisation Southern Reach; while I didn’t enjoy the book as much I was interested in find out more about bureaucracy.

After both Annihilation and Authority, there were still a lot of questions to be answered and Acceptance felt more like a novel to tie everything up. There is a new expedition and there is still some excitement to be found in the final instalment, but for me it was a letdown. I got my answers, but I wasn’t satisfied and in the end I just felt like everything wrapped up too neatly.

The Southern Reach trilogy is a thrilling science fiction series that plays with ideas of environment and bureaucracy. The world that Jeff VanderMeer has created is immersive and wonderfully crafted. These books are short and don’t take long to read. While I had my issues here, I am still glad to have worked my way through this trilogy and am interested in trying to more of Jeff VanderMeer’s novels.

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted December 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

Authority by Jeff VanderMeerTitle: Authority (Goodreads)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy #2
Published: Fourth Estate, 2014
Pages: 341
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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For thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as Area X. Twelve expeditions have been sent to this unspoilt stretch of the US coastline but they are no closer to unlocking the mysteries of Area X. John Rodriguez, or as he is better known, Control is the newly appointed head of Southern Reach and he is determined to sort out this agency from all its disarray.

While Annihilation focused on Area X and served as an exhibition into nature, Authority is more about the bureaucratic nightmare of a secretive government organisation. The story follows Control, who serves as more of an outsider trying to make sense of everything that is going on within the Southern Reach. While this novel focuses on the organisation rather than Area X, readers can still expect to experience the same building of tension and terror found in Annihilation.

Even though it is a different cast of characters, I am very mindful of giving spoilers to the series so I will be a little vague and won’t be able to say everything I would like to say. Having said that, I tend to view Authority as a novel that parallels Annihilation in many ways. This makes me believe that the effects of Area X is not just a physical anomaly but also psychological. Yet again the reader is left with more questions than answers; What is going on here?

While I don’t think Authority was nearly as exciting as Annihilation. I am still very curious how this series will end with the last book Acceptance. I do have the last book from the library and I will probably read it sometime in January; I just need to know the answers. These books are a fun departure from the types of books I normally read but I do hate how vague I have to be in the reviews. Go out and read them; that is pretty much all I can really say.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky

Posted December 12, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 2 Comments

Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris StrugatskyTitle: Roadside Picnic (Goodreads)
Author: Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
Translator: Olena Bormashenko
Published: Chicago Review Press, 1972
Pages: 209
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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Aliens have made contact, or have they? Thirteen years after the visitation, an international science cooperative has locked up each landing site, dubbed Zones in an effort to study the unexplained phenomena. Red Schuhart is a stalker, someone that sneaks into the zones and tries to collect artefacts. Despite the legal ramifications, artefacts on the black market sell really well. When Red puts together another team to collect a “full empty” everything goes wrong.

The attempts to gain publication of Roadside Picnic is a story in itself; like most Russian literature this novel was originally serialised in a literary magazine. Attempts to publish in book form took over eight years, mainly due to denial by the Department for Agitation and Propaganda. The heavily censored book that originally was published was a significant departure to what the authors originally wrote. I am unclear as to whether the new translation I read corrected this censorship, to quote the back of the book “this authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions”. I know some of the corrections made included to the original translation starting thirty years after the visitation rather than thirteen but unsure what else was changed. However, despite the censorship and notwithstanding the fact this novel was out-of-print in America for thirty years; Roadside Picnic is wildly regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time.

The title Roadside Picnic refers to the visitation and the fact that they never made contact with humanity. The novel plays with the idea that intelligent life wouldn’t want to make contact with the human race. One look at humanity, full of all the violence towards each other, aliens would conclude that humans are not intelligent life forms but rather savages. One character within the novel, Dr. Valentine Pilman compared the aliens visit to that of an extra-terrestrial picnic.

“Xenology is an unnatural mixture of science fiction and formal logic. At its core is a flawed assumption—that an alien race would be psychologically human.”

It is fascinating to look at humanity in a first contact novel and it reminded me of how much I’ve enjoyed the psychological/philosophical science fiction novels that seemed to be produced in the 1960s and 70s. However Roadside Picnic went deeper; like most Russian novels of this time, there was a strong reflection on society at the time. Like I said before, I am not sure if this edition still holds the Soviet censorship but I was impressed by the subtle look at society. It wasn’t just a poke at the Soviet Union but rather a look at humanity under an unidentifiable superpower. This could be an American superpower and it looks at ideas of what might happen if the government prohibits the people from gaining access to the biggest scientific discovery of their time. You have a struggle between quarantined verses legitimate scientific research, playing with the moral idea of government regulated technology.

Moving away from the themes, Roadside Picnic is a thrilling and beautifully written novel. Red Schuhart almost comes across as a hard-boiled narrator but less cynical; he remains a wide-eyed curious protagonist throughout the narrative. A surreal, tense story that threw out the rules found in a ‘first contact’ novel and ended up redefining the genre. It went on to challenge some of the ideas in the study of xenology and perhaps even ufology.

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky have been the authors of over twenty science fiction novels, their unique style of blending Soviet rationalism with speculative fiction can be found throughout their books. Roadside Picnic remains their masterpiece and inspired the Russian cult classic movie Stalker (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky wrote the screenplay for Stalker and then the novelisation; no idea why you need a novelisation of a movie that was based on a book. Roadside Picnic is an amazing novel, and reminds me why I love Russian science fiction. The blend of social commentary and science fiction is what I continue to look for when searching for books in this genre.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted December 9, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror, Science Fiction / 5 Comments

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerTitle: Annihilation (Goodreads)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy #1
Published: FSG Originals, 2014
Pages: 195
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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A section of America has been cut off from the rest of the continent; this has been dubbed Area X. While no one has been too sure what caused Area X to be cut off, a clandestine government agency called the Southern Reach keeps sending expeditions to this new ecosystem, to study the last vestiges of an untouched environment. Eleven expeditions have gone to this abandoned and unspoilt stretch of US coastline, eleven catastrophic failures. Four women known only by their disciplines: surveyor, anthropologist, psychologist and biologist are preparing for the twelfth expedition; will they find the answers to explain Area X, this enigmatic and frightening ecosystem?

Annihilation is the first book in the much talked about Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer; a short 200 page novel that packs a huge punch. The reader is thrown into this world and soon finds themselves with many questions; however the answers will only lead to more questions and so you will find yourself in a spiral of tension and excitement. Think Cormac McCarthy meets James Smythe; you have this thrilling and complex novel that sees four women and their impending doom.

I am hesitant in talking about this book too much because everything is shrouded in mystery and deception. I don’t want to give too much away but I can say that Annihilation, on the surface, is a thrilling science-fiction novel. However as you dive deeper into the plot you will soon discover that this is full metafictional and psychoanalytical allegory that leads to a whole new type of exploration for those interested in critical reading. This is so annoying because I want to talk about this book but I don’t want to give anything away.

I have had similar issues reviewing The Explorer by James Smythe, I want to say so much more about this book but I want people to discover it for themselves. I am desperate to read Authority, followed by Acceptance but I know that reviewing them is going to be even more difficult (much like The Echo). Do yourself a favour, go out and pick up a copy of Annihilation if you haven’t done so already, but trust me when I say you will need the other two books in the Southern Reach Trilogy.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Posted August 9, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew SmithTitle: Grasshopper Jungle (Goodreads)
Author: Andrew Smith
Published: Hardie Grant Egmont, 2014
Pages: 441
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
My Copy: Library Book

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Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba is just a normal teenager, who spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend Robby and his girlfriend Shann. There isn’t much to do in this small Iowa town except skate, smoke and dream of the day they can escape; that was until Austin and Robby accidentally brought on the end of the world. Now there is an unstoppable army of six-foot tall praying mantises on the rise that could end the existent of humanity.

“History is full of decapitations, and Iowa is no exception.”

Grasshopper Jungle is told as the history of the end of the world from the perspective of Austin Szerba. Unlike a diary, Austin prefers to document the entire history, interweaving the story of the story of his Polish legacy with the ending of the world, feeling it is important to have an account of what happened in this small town. This young adult novel is a cheesy sci-fright survival story, full of outlandish monsters and comical situations.

The beauty of this novel doesn’t come from the wacky plot it is with the protagonist himself. While the world is ending, Austin is struggling with his hormones and sexuality. At the heart of this novel is just a sixteen-year-old kid trying to make sense of his feelings; his hormones are always racing and everything under the sun seems to make him horny. Stuck in a small town mid-western where his Christian school had harsh words to him for reading The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier because it featured masturbating Catholics makes for an interesting backdrop. You have a situation where no one wants to talk about sexuality, but condemning masturbation and gay-bashing is perfectly acceptable.

“Stupid people should never read books.”

This is the type of book I like to read; it may have a bizarre plot happening but then it is also exploring an internal struggle. For Austin and most teenagers, their budding sexuality can be a confusing time; emotions are running wild and it is very easy to confuse on feeling for another. Robby has identified himself as a homosexual and it becomes clear in the novel that he has feeling for Austin. This makes it tricky; who does Austin talk to about his confusing feelings? He can’t ask his best friend, his girlfriend, a teacher or most adults. There was an awkward and funny scene within the novel where he attempts to ask his father.

One of the biggest things I took away from this novel is to do with labels; Robby identifies as a homosexual but doesn’t let that term define him. For obvious reasons he has to keep his sexual preferences a secret from the town but is out to the people he trusts. While Austin is struggling it has been suggested on a few occasions not to stop trying to define his sexuality and just be himself. This is a beautiful theme to have within this book and I would love to see the entire world take this on board. Obviously as a straight male, my sexuality was never a defining feature and I’m probably not the right person to be advocating this, but it is a great message.

“Do you think I’m queer, Rob?” I asked.
“I don’t care if you’re queer,” Robby said. “Queer is just a word. Like orange. I know who you are. There’s no one word for that.

I’m glad to have found a YA novel exploring such an important issue and I wish I knew of more like this. I feel like the majority of YA novels are not offering the help that a teenager might need. As an adult, it was interesting to see just how this book explored the topic of sexuality and continuously suggested to not let it define Austin. Sure, there is still a struggle and he is facing conflicting emotions; as a reader we watch him bumble along and make a fool of himself countless times, but this captures teenage life. I find myself being very impressed with Grasshopper Jungle, it is a fun and enjoyable read but at the heart of it, it has an important message.

The Echo by James Smythe

Posted January 10, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Fiction, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

The Echo by James SmytheTitle: The Echo (Goodreads)
Author: James Smythe
Series: The Anomaly Quartet #2
Published: Harper Voyager, 28-01-2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

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Twenty years after the Ishiguro vanished, two brilliant scientists have been asked to help answer the many questions surrounding this disappearance. Identical twins Tomas and Mirakel Hyvönen have been interested in space travel since children. Not space, just the equipment. Can that find the Ishiguro, will they solve the mystery or will this just lead to more questions.

This is the sequel to The Explorer, so it is going to be hard reviewing this book without giving anything away. Already I might have said too much about the first book but I highly recommend reading The Explorer anyway. This series is off to a fantastic start and I’m already eager for the next book, which unfortunately may not be till next year.

If you have never read James Smythe before, I recommend him highly. His books The Explorer and The Machine book made my top books of 2013; that is a rare and incredible feat since I had so many books to pick from. Smythe writes literary science fiction that not only keeps you on the edge of your seat; they will also get you contemplating humanity.

The Echo has that philosophical and bleak style you come to expect from James Smythe. While this book sounded like there weren’t any thrilling moments, I was wrong; I was addicted to this book as much as The Explorer and it kept me up late at night. I love the way this author looks at life and sanity; there is so much he wants to say and I’m beginning to wonder if the planned four books series is enough.

I really want to say more about this novel but I’m afraid anything I do say will be a spoiler. I hate leaving a review so short but I highly recommend this series and that is all I can really tell you. James Smythe has another book coming out this year, so I have something to look forward to. I’m sure The Testimony will also be read during the course of 2014 as well.