Spindown by George Wright Padgett
Rating: 5 Stars - A Must Read!
For over one hundred and fifty years, Mining Mega-Corporation Gensiid has maintained a tight grip over all the Galaxy’s energy resources, thanks to its Mining Operations on Jupiter’s largest moon, Gannymede. Clones, living out their whole, strictly controlled lives in a drug-induced stupor, have worked the mines for generations; extracting the most valuable substance in the Galaxy before
shipping it out into Deep Space to be sold on for tremendous profit. Except now, something has changed. All but a few planetary governments have been overthrown and the Galaxy is in chaos. Gensiid is no longer as powerful as it once was, though Prinox, the Artificial Intelligence that is responsible for controlling the Mining Operation, continues to carry on business as usual. When a group of Rebel Spacers infiltrate the Mining Operation with the intention of liberating the clones and granting them freedom, Prinox retaliates. They’re too late to stop a small group of the clones from becoming self-aware. For the first time ever, they begin questioning their very existence and what it means to be human as they flee for their very lives from the A.I that once protected them but now wishes to terminate them and make them “Dormant-dead” for no longer being “Productive”. Escaping through normally restricted levels of the Mining Operation in a bid to reach Prinox’s Central Control, the four clones begin forming a bond, a very troubled and conflicted relationship, as they learn to truly live for the first time ever......
When this book was sent to me, it was sent with some strong recommendations. The Executive Director of Publishing House, Grey Gecko, described this as being “one of the best Sci-fi novels I have ever read” and compared it to the works of two authors who could well be described as the founding fathers of
modern Sci-fi; namely Arthur C. Clarke and Issac Asimov. That is a very strong recommendation by anyone's standards! By heaping all of this praise on the book, could Grey Gecko’s Executive Director be setting this up for a fall? By placing it so high on a pedestal before the first page had even been turned, could he be unwittingly and unintentionally lining this book up to fail?
Thankfully, the answer to both these questions is no! Spindown is every bit as awesome and enthralling as its recommendations would suggest! Set entirely on, and never quite leaving, the Mining Operation based on Jupiter’s largest satellite. Spindown manages to be both original and highly unique in both style and content! It is exceptionally well written, its characters brilliantly conceived and Fowler 3805 is perfect as the hero of this tale, whose story we follow right through to its end. The story is action-packed with lots of tense moments thrown in and barely slows its pace for a moment throughout the whole of its journey. Inevitable questions are asked along the way and what makes this book even better is the way it makes you stop and think; to contemplate the nature of your OWN existence....
The future that Padgett has created here is a scarily believable, one where big Corporations are the ones that wield the highest power. Though we see little of that future outside of the Gannymede Moon Base
where this book is set, the reading between the lines paints a very frightening picture. Spindown is not the first book to feature clones in such a situation as is presented here, but it is certainly one of the first in a while to ask such pertinent questions as it does. Last year, C.K. Burch’s Icarus Void, which I also reviewed for TBR, was my favorite Sci-fi novel of 2012. Though 2013 has barely begun, I very much doubt that I will read any other Sci-fi this year that will be able to compare to Spindown!
Spindown is amazing, it is thought provoking, emotional and mere words fail to describe how highly I recommend this debut novel. I predict George Wright Padgett will be an author to watch in the future.
The dying of the light: interval by Jason Kristopher
Rating: 3 Stars: It was a good read.
Interval is the second of three books set in the same universe where Zombies or “Walkers” have taken over the planet forcing much of humanity to retreat to underground bunkers until such time as they can repopulate the planet. Though they are the last vestiges of mankind, the separate bunkers find it difficult to co-operate with each other and get along despite being under constant attack and that’s without mentioning the feelings of mass claustrophobia that begins developing amongst the population of Bunker One.
Meanwhile at McMurdo Base, deep in the heart of Antarctica, one more group of humans struggles to survive in desperate and dire conditions. There may not be any Walkers but they have their own separate problems to deal with....
I really enjoyed the first book and the two short stories I have read that accompany the series so had high hopes for this. Unfortunately, I felt a little let down and disappointed by this second installment which, although good, never quite matched the superiority of the
first novel. This was for a number of reasons.
Firstly this book quickly becomes less about the Zombies and more about the individual pockets of humanity as they struggle to survive and work together towards a common goal. In fact, the Walkers barely feature for large chunks of the novel other than in passing. Secondly, the main plot of the novel jumps around a lot. Not just between McMurdo Base and Bunker
One but also across vast stretches of time. Two years or more can have passed between chapters and I found this, at times, a little disconcerting and thought that it broke the story up quite a bit, meaning it didn’t flow as well as it did in the first book.
It is an interesting take on survival and is a good read because it deals firmly with the practicalities of retreating to an enclosed space underground for what could end up being decades and looks at the various problems that could arise in just such a situation. But I just felt that this time around the plot was slightly lacking when compared to the first book!
Another thing I felt let this down was that characters from the short story What Ever Happened To Tom Reynolds feature heavily and if you have not read this, then many fans may feel a little lost as to what exactly is going on. What Ever Happened To is supposed to represent a
“lost” chapter from the first book and is due to be included in an anthology of stories to be released once this series is over but without reading it, I just felt that many people wouldn’t have a clue who some of these people were or their relevance to the plot! This I thought to
be a major plot error.
Overall, this isn’t bad but don’t expect this to be quite as gripping as the first book in the series. A big revelation towards the end almost feels like a bit of an excuse to string out
the series to another book and though I am keen to read it to see how this all ends, still now I feel a bit skeptical about whether it will reach the high standards set by the first book! Like I say, I didn’t hate this ~ I just felt a little let down.
Title: Outbreak One: The Washington Territory by Jason Kristopher
Length: short story
TBR Reviewer: Mark
Rating: 5 Stars - A Must Read.
Outbreak One is the first of two short stories written to accompany the new ground-breaking Zombie series, The dying of the light. This seems to be a common practice at the moment, writing shorter fiction to compliment existing novels and is a great way to keep fans interested between longer, lengthier installments of their favorite series! Some more cynical than I might suggest it is a clever, ingenious marketing ploy but I say who cares? The fact is that while authors are prepared to do this, fans like myself are able to get regular fixes of their favorite characters, a bit like sneaking in illicit snacks in-between main meals!
Outbreak One is a tale of the first ever official reported sightings of Zombies, way back in
the 1800’s. A group of American soldiers head into an abandoned garrison only to discover that a new plague is amongst them that causes the dead to rise to feast on the living! Outbreak One details what happens when the soldiers attempt to stem the tide of the virus the only way they know how; by destroying anything and anyone who has come into close contact with the infected. It is a tale that was briefly touched upon in The dying of the light: End but is
further expanded here. It is also very, very good and compelling reading!
More flash fiction than a short story per se, the tale is very, very short but nonetheless
works well to build on the already established background that featured as a prelude to the events depicted in The dying of the light: End. It would be great to read more fiction set in this particular timeline of the infestation but whether this is something the author has planned remains to be seen. What is known is that this is just the first of a series of related stories that the author intends to release at a later date in a separate volume. And if the rest of the stories are as good as this, then fans will have nothing to worry about!