Moonrise

A bit of a jump in focus and topic from Mars , Moonrise is more similar to Privateers et al (the Dan Randolph books), with more of a focus on corporate structure over science.

Amusingly, despite the title/series, Moonrise is only tangentially about the Moonbase, despite a large chunk of the book taking place there. Really, it’s about the bizarre broken family and corporate dynamic of Masterson Aerospace and the rise of nanotechnology in Ben Bova’s universe. From what I remember of other books in the series (from more than a decade ago), the rise of technology and the idea of it being banned on Earth for religious reasons is a fairly major plot point from here on out, so it’s interesting to see how that all began.

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Dark Matter

We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.

I went into Dark Matter not actually knowing much about the book. So the first couple of chapters (where the main character is kidnapped by mysterious figures, has his whole life turned upside down, and then apparently meets his wife for the first time) was… intense.

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Moon Shades

Moon Shades is a bit of an odd book in that plotwise, it doesn’t actually have much to do with either The Fallen or especially the big events of Harbinger, at least not until the last few chapters of the book. After everything, I expected more.

But it’s still an interesting enough book on it’s own merits. Essentially, it’s a fairly standard ‘something took the children… and our neighbors are WEREWOLVES!’ type story (which is amusingly specific enough to be a trope) with Chivali and the Fallen as an entrypoint into the world. We learn a very little bit about magic in this world, along with the aforementioned werewolves (pretty standard).

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Mars

My favorite of The Grand Tour books so far, by a decent margin.

It’s closer to ‘pure’ science fiction than the previous three, with the exploration of Mars and the science of getting there and exploring taking the front seat, with a lesser focus on politics and character than the previous books (although there still a decent amount of both).

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Empire Builders

In Powersat, the big bads were terrorists. In Privateers, the Russians. In The Empire Builders it’s… global warming and the mob?

Given how times have changed, it’s amusing to see the specter of a ‘greenhouse cliff’ looming over the world, with no one believing at first that such a thing is even possible. Nowdays, you’ll see arguments over if it’s happening or not (more and more rarely) and if we caused it in the first place (of course we did), but you’d be hard pressed to find too many people that have never even heard of the idea. That’s what you get for reading near future sci- fi written a quarter century ago I guess. It’s a straight forward enough plot with a few twists through politics, squatters on the moon and natural disasters and an engaging read. I find myself increasingly interested in what happens to this other Earth.

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Harbinger

Harbinger is a bit of a tonal shift from the The Fallen. Where The Fallen had a split feel between Chavali’s life with her clan and then after her death as one of the Fallen, Harbinger is almost entirely concerned with a single mission she’s sent on on behalf of her former masters.

We still have hints of Chivali’s former life. How she uses her powers; occasional sad memories of all she’s lost. But for the most part, she seems to be fitting into her role as something like a spy, running missions for the masters of the Fallen. It works, although I was hoping for a bit more even about the clan she’d lost, perhaps rebuilding it, and why it happened to them in the first place. We get a few answers, but really more questions than ever.

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Privateers

Reading Powersat and then Privateers (the suggested chronological order given for [series:The Grand Tour|51185]) is a bit strange, given the former was first published in 2005 and the latter back in 1985.

In Powersat, the ‘big bads’ are informed by the political tensions of the early 2000s, with terrorism (especially Middle Eastern) driving the conflict. When Privateers was written, the Soviet Union had not yet fallen and the Cold War was still going, so it’s unsurprising to find that the ‘what if’ this time around sees the Soviets taking a position of political power and the United States fading to isolationism.

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Powersat

I last read most of the The Grand Tour in high school or earlier, jumping about from book to book in no particular order. I don’t even know if I read The Grand Tour, especially given that it might not have been out yet. It’s a bit of a strange book, set first chronologically but written decades after others in the series. I was looking for an audiobook series to listen to next and this seemed worth a try.

Plotwise, it’s near future science fiction, with a world similar enough to the modern world that nothing seems impossible but exploring what could be / could have been. It’s not the sort of science fiction I generally read, but so it goes. The idea of the powersat and the spaceplanes is neat and the idea of NASA transferring responsibilities to private companies seems increasingly prescient every year (the last space shuttle flight was 6 years after this book was published). The ending in particular has just the right push of scifi action and adventure to keep me reading by itself.

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The Fallen

I have a pretty good number of less known / self published stories that I’ve collected through various sales and bundles that I keep meaning to work through. The Fallen is one such book. I’m not even sure where I picked it up anymore, but it seems worth giving a try.

Structurally, The Fallen starts with Chavali (a fortune teller who just so happens to have a gift for mind reading) and her clan of travelling folk. Fascinating world building already and we just keep getting hints of even crazier things going on in the greater world as everyone dies and Chavali is brought back as one of the mysterious "Fallen" . Quite a twist.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies

“That’s a sweet piece,” said Jean, briefly forgetting to be aggravated. “You didn’t snatch that off a street.”

“No,” said Locke, before taking another deep draught of the warm water in the decanter. “I got it from the neck of the governor’s mistress.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“In the governor’s manor.”

“Of all the -”

“In the governor’s bed.”

“Damned lunatic!”

“With the governor sleeping next to her.”

The night quiet was broken by the high, distant trill of a whistle, the traditional swarming noise of city watches everywhere. Several other whistles joined in a few moments later.

“It is possible,” said Locke with a sheepish grin, “that I have been slightly too bold.”

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