Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Science Fiction Reviews from Harriet

The Lost Fleet Relentless
Jack Campbell
Ace, Apr 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017089

A century ago the Syndicate Worlds attacked the Alliance who fought back. Captain John "Black Jack" Geary’s ship the Meron was destroyed but he escaped in a pod in suspended animation; only to wake up a hundred years later to learn he is a legend and that the war continues unabated. The Alliance sends a fleet into the heart of Syndic Space, but due to a series of dreadful circumstances, Jack becomes the commander.

After some fierce battles, the fleet is ready to use Jump Points to return to Alliance space. Jack and a few others learned the Syndicate worlds were manipulated into going to war by a mysterious race of aliens who want the two combatant groups to destroy one another. It is urgent that Jack and his crew return home because they possess the Syndic hypernet key that can be used as a weapon. While fighting and eluding the Syndic fleets, Jack tries to convince those who have admired him that he dos not want to be the leader of the Alliance and explains to his supporters he is a warrior not a politician.

This exhilarating action packed outer space military thriller will remind the audience of the battles in Star Wars. Jack is terrific as he realizes his past glory can carry him so far with his demi-god celebrity status, but he caught in a conundrum of what his fame means to the Alliance and what he has learned while in Syndric Space about the true enemy. Many believe he is the only one who can end the hundred year war though he has his doubts as to what should be done next. Harriet Klausner

Flinx Transcendent
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey, May 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345496072

Flinx still recovers from the demoralizing events that have shaken his soul (see QUOFUM). Filled with self loathing and galaxy wide doubts he can do the mission he must do, Flinx with his loyal sidekick Pip prepares for the eventuality of the final showdown against the Great Evil. Adding to his growing uncertainty is the reality he is the only individual who can stop the Great Evil if he can avoid the Order of the Null assassins who need him eliminated to achieve their mission.

With his confidence at an all time low and shrinking and on his way to the final confrontation, Flinx, with Pip accompanying him, stops off to negotiate a truce between the human Commonwealth and the AAnn; and. He also reunites with his beloved Clarity Held and his teachers Truzenzuzex and Tse-Mallory in hope that they give him inspiration, hope and a renewed fighting spirit even as he expects to go it alone in the last battle.

Long time fans of the saga will relish the finish besides the obvious strong tale, the return of key players in Flinx’s escapades seems appropriate for the end game. The story line starts a bit slow as the strange bedfellows need introduction, but once the plot accelerates, FLINX TRANSCENDENT never slows down until the final spin. With a nod to the homage my enemy’s enemy is my friend, Alan Dean Foster provides a triumphant climax to a wonderful series as Flinx learns the same lesson constantly of be careful who has your back (besides Pip). Harriet Klausner

Stephen Baxter
Roc, May 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451462718

In 2016 in Barcelona, the religious fanatics still hold four hostages snatched several years ago. USAF Captain Lily Brooke, British military officer Piers Michaelmas, NASA scientist Gary Boyle; and Helen Gray are losing hope of ever regaining their freedom, but each vows to help one another through the ordeal and if they ever become liberated afterward. Affluent Brit AxysCorp security CEO Nathan Lammockson pulls off the impossible by rescuing the foursome after they were held for several years.

However, during their captivity, the world has radically changed as the water levels have reached pandemic flooding leaving whole countries beneath the sea and high points as exclusive property for those who can afford it and security. In a desperate gambit as he expects the entire land masses to go under the water, Nathan has moved his operation to the high Andes Inca capital of Cuzco where he has hired experts to build a new Queen Mary, he dubs Ark 3. He chooses who lives and who dies. In four decades, the ocean average depth above sea level rises exponentially as flood walls costly are overwhelmed. Nathan’s dream of Britannia ruling the waves again may happen, but outside of Ark 3 there may not be a human alive much longer as the end is near.

Obvious extrapolation of global warming and a theory on the mantle containing more water than the crust and with a nod to Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, FLOOD is an exhilarating rapidly rising cautionary science fiction thriller. The section titles tell much of what is happening as the mean sea level of 1.5 meters in 2010 rises to 1800-8800 meters above sea level between 2041 and 2052. The cast is solid with an ensemble of many more critical players than the five above. Though somewhat repetitive as cities and countries constantly drown, Stephen Baxter hooks his audience with his no hope for humanity tale; as the bible turns out to be a false prophet re the pledge to Noah never again by sea. Harriet Klausner

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