Nobody can explain why, but it has become almost impossible to murder anyone. 999 times out of 1000 when someone is murdered their body just disappears and they reappear alive and well at home. They have full memory of the events that led to their death and in all other ways they are in the state they were in 12-24 hours prior. Of course this fundamentally changes human society and this short novella tells the story of a "missing person" police investigation taking place within this interesting world.
Following up on his smash hit The Martian, Andy Weir brings us to the Moon instead of Mars this time around, but he does it in the same science heavy sci-fi manner. Set in the near future, this novel focuses on Jazz Bashara, a young woman who barely ekes out a living in the city of Artemis, which just happens to be on the Moon. Jazz has been raised on the Moon from a young age, so living in a coffin sized apartment and eating various flavors of algae is normal to her. However, she is often exposed to the much more extravagant lifestyles of the rich tourists who come to visit, as well as the wealthy business people who also live there, and she wants to move up. Jazz has a plan to make that happen and she has been known to work outside the law as needed when opportunities arise. When the chance of a lifetime comes along in a high-risk, high-reward score, she just can't resist.
To my dismay Persepolis Rising starts a full thirty years after the end of the previous book, Babylon's Ashes. I found myself instantly unhappy that the writing duo known as James S. A. Corey had decided it was time for the crew of the Rocinante to be getting old. All of a sudden my favorite characters were spending time complaining about the aches and pains associated with aging instead of kicking ass and taking names. Luckily the authors also put forth an intriguing story line that makes it easy to set aside such concerns. When everything goes to hell, Holden and company prove that despite their age, they aren't done just yet.
The fifth book of the Frontlines series brings the story to a turning point for mankind. The first four books have seen humanity dominated by the alien Lankies, losing battle after battle, and abandoning every human planet except for Earth. Even then, the relentless attacks coming from the Lanky inhabited planet of Mars have caused humanity to barely maintain a hold on Earth. With our existence on the brink, the only option left is to go "all in" and launch an offensive to reclaim our solar system. Gathering up the scraps of the space fleet to attack Mars is a desperate play, but there are no other alternatives left.
In 2088 Earth decides to send out twelve deep space missions. Reggie Straifer proposes that they visit an anomalous star that appears to have some kind of shell blocking the light emitting from it. When his proposal is accepted and becomes one of the twelve missions he chooses the name Noumenon, a posited object or event that exists without sense or perception. Nine ships, populated by genetic clones, travel for two hundred years to get to the star while back on Earth two thousand years pass by. The story is told in first person vignettes at crucial timepoints.
Despite being only two books in length the Commonwealth Saga manages to deliver an epic science fiction story from the mind of author Peter F. Hamilton. The first book, Pandora's Star, is aptly named as it sets the stage by telling the tale of how humanity lets curiosity unleash a threat upon the galaxy that it is in no way prepared to handle. Multi-century lifespans and instant wormhole travel between stars has made humanity overly complacent and easy prey for the Prime aliens who are ruthless, aggressive, and without mercy. Survival of the fittest may have served us well in the distant past but now it is time to find out if we are able to channel our inner predator or if we finally become prey to someone else.
This work originally started as an online journal where each entry was uploaded piece by piece and appeared as if it was hand written by the protagonist as he tried to survive a zombie apocalypse. It was published in this unconventional way because J. L Bourne wanted it to feel real and raw and was quoted as saying "there are no publishers or editors in the apocalypse." Eventually this unique work was compiled and morphed into book form but the journal entry format remained in tact which is a good thing since it happens to keep the story moving forward rapidly. Couple that with the credibility that Bourne's 22 years of military and intelligence service brings to his main character, who is also military, and you have a unique work worth experiencing within a very crowded genre.
Fuzzy Nation is a modern take on the classic tale of a large corporation exploiting natural resources for profit, destroying the environment in the process, and then running into an environmental snag. In this case the exploitation happens to be occurring on a distant planet and the snag is the discovery of a new life form that mucks up the works. Because these new creatures are small and furry they are given the name "Fuzzies" and the bulk of this story is the ensuing legal battle between scientists and lawyers over whether or not the Fuzzies are sapient. Of course if they are deemed sapient then interplanetary law dictates that the corporation must stop exploiting their home world and leave it to them, so vast sums of money are at stake on the outcome. Don't be fooled into thinking that a legal battle must be boring as John Scalzi injects his usual amount of humor into the tale and makes this a fun short story that doesn't outstay its welcome.
Pandora's Star is the book where Peter F. Hamilton first introduces readers to the human Commonwealth. It is the year 2380 and humanity has populated several hundred worlds across hundreds of light years, all due to wormhole technology. That is when a single astronomer observes something unexplainable about 1000 light years from Earth - two stars just disappear when they become simultaneously enclosed by some kind of structure. This sparks all kinds of debate within the Commonwealth as whoever did this must have technology far superior to humanity and could pose a serious threat to the Commonwealth despite the distance. What to do about it? Sit back and do nothing hoping to avoid detection by these superior aliens or attempt to find a way to traverse the massive distance to take a closer look? Neither option is a great one and the Commonwealth's ultimate decision makes up the core of this interesting story.
This time around Edward W. Robertson moves his story arc forward right from the start but he does it by mixing the old with the new as Walt returns to being a main character. There are two main story lines once again with Walt, who we know from Breakers, as the central figure of one and Raina, who was just a child when human civilization fell, as the central character of the other. Right from the start these two story lines offer different perspectives on the state of the Los Angeles basin as human factions vie for control of the area. If you haven't started the series and want to avoid any spoilers that reveal plot points from the prior books then you should stop reading now but know that this book is probably the best of the Breakers series to date because the story arc is finally moving forward, although things don't appear to going well for anyone.