Through Struggle, the Stars
on Feb. 07, 2013
Not bad at all.
I do have a minor quibble. As other reviewers have noted, the society and the universe don't quite match up. The political structure, the sensibilities of the characters, the level of medical care, and most applications of technology are at a mid-21st-century level. The characters feel removed only a generation or two from current society. The presence of partially-terraformed planets with populations in the millions in wide-spanning star systems seems like it should be set several hundred years in the future.
However, other than that, it was very well written. Others have mentioned shades of John Ringo (nooooo!) or David Weber. However, a better comparison might be Jack Campbell/John G. Hemry. I look forward to reading more of these books.
This had some good bits, but wasn't worth purchasing. Much of it just didn't make sense - for example, just to get a sperm sample from the protagonist, he was transported to a far-off pristine valley and allowed to wander freely for months, impregnating various women who came to him with made-up backstories.
I was reading this while standing in line at the grocery store; the clerk asked me if I was all right, as I had teared up at one scene.
I haven't read anything like this in a long time.
This was funny, entertaining, moving, and engaging. It was far too short (in the sense that I was left wanting more, not in value for my money). It has the same premise and setting as some of the author's other stories, so I hope there will soon be a full-length novel.
Another reviewer suggested that the first book in the series was free to get readers hooked. It worked.
This is a standard navy-in-space story with battles and boarding parties. It's not something new and innovative. It's not a series that will totally revolutionize the science fiction genre. However, it's well-written and I didn't get bored reading it, and it's good enough that I'm buying the next two in the series.
This isn't a single coherent work. It's a bunch of story fragments, with a wide variety of different characters, different plotlines, and different technologies. This is like seeing tiny segments of trailers of different movies, jumbled together into a single trailer. And all of the glimpses of the movie trailers make you want to see each individual movie.
From this tiny sampling, the author sets the stage for what I hope will be an epic series of excellent novels. I really, really, really want to read them when they are done.
This isn't a travel guide. It's more like a friend sending you an e-mail telling you things that you personally will find useful when visiting Nunavut, that would never get in an official guide. For example, you can get a cheap supply of toilet paper by buying it off someone moving south. And use the washroom before going through airport security in Iqualiut, as there are no facilities on the other side.
Well written, although somewhat florid in spots. Very good on the details - for example, the protagonist is extremely thorough with his dental hygiene due to the absence of dentists, and his retirement plans include hundreds of cords of neatly-stacked firewood for heating and cooking in his old age.
Note: Read SMALLWORLD first. Otherwise, this won't make sense.
This is darker and less amusing than Smallworld (necessarily so, because it involves interstellar war), but definitely worth reading. Well-developed characters, multiple plotlines, and a huge number of well-crafted words for a very low price.
I really liked the premise, and wanted to like this book. In Leo Frankowski's "Crosstime Engineer" series and Eric Flint's "1632" series, one or more people are thrown back in time and try to introduce modern technology. This book is similar, but with the convenience of two-way portals to allow materials to be brought back and forth.
However, the characters are genocidal sociopaths, so I stopped caring whether or not they died or succeeded in meeting their goals. [SPOILERS] A character dropped a nuclear weapon on a city to eliminate a few leaders, despite previously having demonstrated the ability to fire a sniper rifle through a time portal and kill them individually. Some characters needed some prefabricated metal sheds. They had unlimited money, and had previously purchased metal barns in kit form. However, instead of just buying more, the characters hijacked a WWII Liberty ship and killed much of its crew, to get a few bulky, leaky, and generally inferior Quonset huts. A character wanted coconuts for drinks, so he and a friend went to a tropical island, chopped down the inhabitants' trees, and then shot them when they complained. As another character pointed out, they could have just gone to a supermarket instead of killing human beings.
I loved the technical aspects, such as building a base out of standard container units pre-kitted to meet mission needs. However, I'd like to see the characters hauled before a War Crimes judicial panel in The Hague and sentenced to imprisonment for the rest of their extended lifespans.
This was an interesting essay on how (and why) former recommendations and best practices are now becoming mandatory. The analogies are a bit strained in parts, but are cute and illustrate his points nicely.
It's very sweet that he dedicates this book to his husband Jesús. It's nice to have spouses believe in each other so strongly, and have such a positive relationship.
The first two thirds of the book were very good. Plausible, internally consistent, and everything made sense. The decisions and actions of the characters resulted in subsequent events that were logical.
Then things got a bit implausible, with half-starved, ill-equipped refugees taking on a well-fed, well-armed gang that had held its own against a National Guard unit.
Still, enjoyable to read.
This seems authoritative and thorough. My only critique is that it is perhaps a bit dismissive of the value of razor wire, treating it as an accessory rather than a weapon in its own right. True razor wire (not the barbed wire used for livestock) will slice through tissue to the bone, and would do more than delay a zombie. Still, that is a minor quibble. This would be good for someone writing a zombie story who wants to avoid getting details incorrect.
This was entertaining enough that I bought the rest of the series. The premise isn't too far-fetched - the electronics industry today is suffering from substandard counterfeit parts being slipped into the supply chain for profit, so it wouldn't be too hard to deliberately introduce components with a built-in kill switch.
The author goes into full aircraft geek mode at times, with detailed descriptions of aircraft that go on for pages and pages. I found these infodumps to be rather enjoyable, but people looking for nonstop adventure may want to skip ahead a few pages.
My only criticism is that civilization crumbled unrealistically fast, with looting, indiscriminate killing, and mayhem breaking out before people's New Year's hangovers had even gone away. Of course, there wouldn't be much of a story if people reacted calmly and rationally, with everyone working together peacefully as they adapted to the loss of electronic technology.
Overall, well worth reading, especially for enthusiastic aerospace nerds.
This drops you into the middle of a situation, where the reader must figure out the setting, and details are explained as if you are already familiar with the background. It's unclear who is good or evil, or what everyone's motives are, and often it's unclear what is even going on. So, just like real life.
The future Earth, the alien worlds, and most of the characters were unpleasant. The politics that drove the plot were tedious. Again, just like real life. However, it was enjoyable to read about someone navigating through the situation.
This was a realistic view of the impact of a pandemic on health service professionals and their families, along with the secondary impacts to society. The tedium and fatigue were expressed quite clearly. If you are preparing a pandemic response plan for your workplace, you may find it interesting to read this to better understand the emotional and human factors side of such events.
Interesting, although completely reliant upon an unexplained deus ex machina. The story would have been better if there was at least a token attempt to explain what it was, and why it took such an interest in protecting and guiding the characters.
The revised version (April 2014) is an improvement over the 2013 version. A filediff of the two epubs shows over 5100 edits. Most obviously, the current cover picture is much more appropriate to the content. That's not a major issue, but the old cover irritatingly gave an incorrect impression of the story. The new version has an additional appendix on the principal features of money (fungibility and total quantity). There are many very minor edits (mostly dialogue), which makes the conversations between characters flow more smoothly than in the 2013 version. The overall story is the same, just slightly more polished.
I still have a quibble about certain witnesses being allowed to live long enough to record their testimony. It would be more likely that they would be promptly killed by a house fire, car crash, drug overdose, or other "accident" with plausible deniability. That's a very minor issue, and their their survival was necessary to the story. Overall the book was excellent, and very good value for the price.
Awesome epic book. It doesn't just deal with a collapse, but follows society for several generations, from the viewpoint of multiple characters.
"Words: 432,670" isn't a typo. This is HUGE, and it's not fluff and padding.
This is a unique story in that it includes people with disabilities, people of various First Nations, people who are immigrants, people who are visible minorities, and people of widely varying backgrounds, ethnic heritages, political views, and religions beliefs, and treats them as actual people with stories rather than background decoration. This gives so many more opportunities to develop the story, and the author fully takes advantage of it. After reading this, I realized how much it gets repetitive reading books where the same generic heroic man fights to survive, with kids and womenfolk only there to cheer him on. I think this is the first post-apocalyptic book I've read where more than half the narrative is from the viewpoint of women.
Anton Chekov wrote, "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.". In this book, the wall would be destroyed by a train driving through it. The author keeps things interesting by setting up the story so you expect one thing, but then knocks the legs out from under it. For example, a community develops its own currency to replace the nearly-worthless dollar, using some old store coupons they found. The characters carefully sign each one, keep track of how many are issued, monitor the relative value of the coupons to available food resources, and secretly mark the coupons to prevent duplication. You expect that they will soon have problems with counterfeit coupons, or hyperinflation. But, just like real life, events take place that invalidate your predictions.
This is really, really, really good value for the money. A lot of good story for your dollar.
A good premise, interesting situations, and very well-thought-out details of the issues involved when 21st and mid-20th technology meet. It would be much better if the author would show rather than tell. Worth the purchase, and I'll buy the next in the series when it comes out.
Very good, although "Shipbuilder" was much better. The author does an excellent job of making us care about individual characters. The story in "Shipbuilder" is confined to the complex but narrow scope of people involved with the Titanic, and so the detailed character development matches the scale of the action. In "Bridgebuilders", the story is more sprawling. The characters are still very well-developed, but we lose a bit of the intimacy.
It's definitely a good book, but Shipbuilder was even better.
Amusing, but it would have been better if it focused more on the mishaps and adventures associated with flying, and less on drunken coworkers being tediously stupid away from the aircraft. Still, I'll definitely buy the author's next book too.
Just to clarify my previous comment about this losing the intimacy seen in the previous book: there is no loss of intimate detail in the character development. It's more that "Shipbuilder" was like a cozy cottage filled with beautifully crafted furniture. "Bridgebuilder"'s larger scope is like a vast warehouse with a few pieces of beautiful furniture in it.
Still definitely a good book.
Excellent as always. This is a standalone work, so you don't need to read any of the author's earlier books to enjoy it. In theme it is very similar to Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE", but is largely from the viewpoint of dedicated players. This makes it far easier for readers to relate to the characters, and makes the story much more amusing and enjoyable. Parts of it are also painfully true.
So very, very good. You are thrown right into the story years after it started, with complex characters and plots. The settings and problems are realistic, and things go wrong in horribly mundane (and thus surprising and plausible) ways. Buying all the rest in the series now.
Very very good. Note that this should be read after the first book in the series, "Coyote". This book contains flashbacks to events prior to those in "Coyote", but you'll understand them better if you understand the aftermath.
The settings in this book are real places in Northern Ontario and Quebec, so it helps to load up Google Earth and see a satellite view of everything going on. For example, when the protagonist blows up one wing of a residence at a remote mine and scurries around to another wing, you can understand exactly how great a distance is involved.
This is the first post-apocalyptic series I've read where people were able to maintain limited networks for local e-mail, webcams, and such; it makes sense once the author pointed it out, as anyone with a solar panel, a router, and techie skills could add great benefit to a community of survivors. The author also skillfully uses network latency (and intermittent contact with the greater internet) as plot drivers.
This story fits in with the setting of the "After The Fires Went Out" series, but lacks the hope and cooperation present in the longer works. I much prefer the author's works where the setting is isolated and the population is tiny, where we can get more character development.
This is the end (for now) of the story of Baptiste, but it's a rather weak ending. That's mostly because of the setting. The previous books had a small number of characters in sparsely-populated areas, where one person's actions could change things at the strategic level. As Baptiste moves south, he becomes just one more person shoved about by events, with hardly any agency of his own. Still worth reading to see how it ends, but the earlier books were better, as is "After The Fires Went Out: Descent" (which is the journal of Ant, which the characters were reading from).
This was excellent. The setting, characters, economy, and technologies were all very plausible and well-thought-out. I did think it a bit odd that nobody had managed to bring back electricity or engines. But the author even explained that later in the book; the main character remembered having once seen an electric light, so bits of technology do exist in the background, but are just too rare and expensive to influence the plot.
I am very eager to read more from this author.
I have a few minor quibbles, but they don't really affect the story. In the book, 80% of the population dies within days when heating systems fail. In the 1998 icestorm, there were only dozens of deaths from hypothermia, while everyone else wore their winter jackets indoors and were uncomfortable but alive. It may have been more plausible to have the setting cleared by starvation rather than freezing. However, other than a few minor details like that, I enjoyed it. Definitely worth the price.
Note, this is not a standalone work, you must read "The girl they couldn't see" first.
More of the same, but with American football. Instead of the usual detailed analysis of the impact of a new technology to science, medicine, and economics, this book focuses on the potential impact to a sport. A lot of pages are taken up with descriptions of sportsball action that will not be understandable by people not familiar with the US game.
Unlike most of Dahners' books, the protagonists make no attempt to avoid killing opponents, and show no grief or regret when wholesale killing is necessary. Perhaps the sequels will show them crushed by PTSD, or developing into psychopathic killers? It will be interesting where Dahners goes with this.