Cauldron

A solid conclusion (for now) to the Academy series.

Following from Omega, the Academy is basically dead (lack of funding / interest) and humanity is withdrawing from the stars. Then there’s a breakthrough in new FTL drive technology orders of magnitude faster than the previous incarnations. Hutch returns as one of the two pilots sent out on a high speed mission to the origin of the Chindi, a world SETI received a transmission came from, a black hole, and the possible origin of the Omegas (finally).

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Odyssey

Summary: The Academy is running out of money. In the meantime, MacAllister, a senator’s daughter, a pilot, and a PR guy from the Academy are on a tour looking for UFOs because reasons. Eventually the find some (ish), the daughter gets contacted by aliens (maybe, no one believes her at first and it’s never really explained), and a bunch of people die.

As with a few other books in this series, it takes half the book to get to what feels like the main plot point, with a massive acceleration in the last 15% and a final climax in the last 5%. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just felt a lot more obvious in this book.

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Omega

Omega continues on in much the same vein as the previous Academy books. Science fiction in a universe where life is remarkably rare and civilization even more so. This time though… we’ve found someone.

The Omegas (clouds coming in 8000 year waves from the center of the galaxy which have a tendency to seek out and destroy right angles) return in the book, pointing directly to a new civilization. It’s thousands of light years away, so there are only a limited number of ships that can possibly get there in time.

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Chindi

Chindi continues the trend of the previous two books in only vaguely being a sequel. It takes place after the previous two with one of the same characters (Hutch) and there are a few references to previous events… But that’s about it. That’s not a bad thing though.

This book starts with the discovery of an alien satellites around a neutron star. Hijinks ensue and people die (I’ll come back to that in a second). It turns out that the satellites are part of a communication network. The next large chunk of the book follows our characters from world to world chasing after this network. (More people die). They finally end up finding a truly massive alien starship and exploring that (more people die). Then there’s the climax where–just like Deepsix–our heroes have to attempt a daring / insane rescue mission so as not to leave a man behind.

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Deepsix

I greatly enjoyed Deepsix.

Similar to the Engines of God a large chunk of the book is spent on the technology / archaeological aspects and how they interact with the story, but in this case there’s also a strong thriller aspect. Things just keep going wrong (although, given that it’s a novel, you can almost guess how each thing is going to go) over and over up until the climax.

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The Engines of God

I liked it.

The Engines of God fits into the same rough style of science fiction as Rama, where the story is drive more by events and discovery than particularly by plot or character. In my opinion, this can be a perfectly enjoyable form of story, just so long as you know that’s what you’re getting.

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