The Martian

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I bought this book because of a review I saw online recently, and I have to say I loved it. Its interesting, humorous, and a generally fun read with a story line that I haven’t seen before. Its refreshing to encounter a new author who has some genuinely new ideas to explore. I highly recommend this book.

The Martian Book Cover The Martian
Andy Weir
Fiction
Random House
August 28, 2014
369

The bestseller behind the major film from Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I'm in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I'm screwed.

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Redshirts

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I was super excited to get my hands on the latest John Scalzi book because I’ve really liked his previous stuff. Unfortunately while this book is fun I feel that the underlying concept is pretty weak… Its more of a toy boy than something which makes you think, which is a disappointment to me.

Don’t get me wrong, the overall execution is good, but the book feels lazily plotted, much like a badly done Harry Harrison does. So, if that sort of thing annoys you, give this one a miss.

[isbn: 9780765334797]

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Earthbound

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This is the third book in the Marsbound series. The Others have just turned off all electronics on Earth, and now we need to survive. One problem with this book is that it jumps straight into the action — I had to go back and re-read Marsbound and Starbound in order to understand what was happening in this book. That was ok because those two books are excellent, and I enjoyed re-reading them. In fact, those two are probably a little better than this one.

Overall Earthbound is pretty dark, and there isn’t a lot of hope presented — its just a series of scenes where the main characters attempt to deal with an all powerful adversary. Perhaps if the Others weren’t so powerful this would be a better book, because you just know that everyone is doomed. I also respect authors who are willing to kill off lead characters, but that happens a lot in this book, which sort of bothered me. Perhaps that’s what combat is really like though — people you have an attachment to just stop being there. There’s no warning or explanation.

The end of this book isn’t very satisfying. There better be a sequel or I’m going to be annoyed.

[isbn: 9781937007836]

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Jupiter

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This is the first book of Ben Bova’s that I’ve read. Before that I’ve only read “The Nonmetallic Isaac or It’s a Wonderful Life” in Foundation’s Friends. I bought this book randomly because I had run out of things to read on a business trip, and I don’t regret it. The book is well paced, interesting and fun to read. It also explores alien life in a way which is particularly believable (unlike many other SF books I encounter). This book reminds me of Dragon’s Egg without being so hard-SFy. A very good book.

[isbn: 9780812579413;0812579410]

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Starbound

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This is the newly released sequel for Marsbound which I really liked, so I was excited when this arrived the other day. This book is much like the previous one stylistically, being written as a set of mostly first person diary entries. However, the people writing these entries are older now, and this feels less like a teen fiction novel. There is also more than one narrator in this book, unlike the first, with generally each chapter being narrated by one of three people. This can be a bit jarring at first, because it takes a while to realize that a new person is narrating and that’s why the point of view changed. You get used to it though. This book is also quite Heinlein like in this level of sex, which is similar to Marsbound, but not true of all of the Haldeman books I’ve read — I think it might be a relatively recent change to his style.

Overall a good book, I enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for the next one in the series (which Joe finished at the end of 2010).

[isbn: 044101979X;9780441019793]

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Camouflage

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This is a book about two shape changing beings living through their centuries on Earth. It mostly follows on of them, but the other is important to the plot as well. Once again its an enjoyable read like many of Haldeman’s other books. Similarly to other books it also explores what it is like to be isolated from the rest of society, with most of the book being written from the perspective of one of the shape changers. I really liked this book.

[award: winner nebula 2005]
[isbn: 0441012523]

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Marsbound

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This book really worked for me. I’ve seen other people criticize it for being juvenile, but I don’t feel its any more juvenile than The Forever War, which is considered a classic. The style is quite conversational, as if the main protagonist is talking to you and explaining the story, but I liked that. This is a great book.

[isbn: 9780441017393; 0441017398]

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