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It's tough finding a decent sci-fi novel anymore. From bookstores putting sci-fi and fantasy (ugh!) together in the same section to simply finding an author who can write and an editor who can edit. William Keith's Free Fall easily surpasses all those issues and is an enjoyable read with a good central character and good description of the environment the story is set in and all the whiz-bang sci-fi gizmos, gadgets and developments that go along with it, and the reasoning behind it is not as contrived as in some other works.
I don't know anything about the "Android" RPG, and I don't care. I'm tired of the overly wordy blather-filled "space opera" garbage out there and Free Fall is a a hard-bitten detective story wrapped up in a well written, easy to read, and enjoyable sci-fi novel. I;m going to explore William Keith's other offerings with interest.
A sci-fi novel from an author who can actually write! What a concept. Call me a fan.
This book is based on the Android boardgame from Fantasy Flight Games. I'm a fan of the game, and I greatly enjoyed the book (and am in no way affiliated with FFG). Although your enjoyment will be enhanced by familiarity with the game (and vice versa), I think it actually stands on its own as well.
After initial apprehension from reading the first three free chapters on FFG online which didn't impress me that much, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of the book. In fact, I think this book is awesome for what it is. Kudos to Bill Keith! Here are some specific things I love about it:
1. Incredible attention to detail. Everything is thought out very deeply and described thoroughly.
2. Richly fleshed out sci-fi sociopolitics and twisty psychologies/incentives, at times reminiscent of an Asimov sci-fi murder mystery. Definitely a page-turner, especially at the end.
3. Lots of hard sci-fi physics reminiscent of Clarke, especially when it comes to the space elevator (but see below). Thank you Bill for putting the space elevator on the equator!! The author was undoubtedly influenced by both Clarke and Asimov.
4. It is clear that the author took a lot of effort to study and understand the Android universe, and a lot of details from the game are explained. This book is *exactly* how I imagined the Android universe. He just gets it right.
5. It comes with an order form for an event card for the game.
And here are the cons:
1. Number one pet peeve: physics errors, some gross. In particular, the Coriolis force on the elevator is ignored, there is confusion between acceleration and gravity, a few calculations are obviously off (to a physicist at least), and a few other things.Read more ›
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If you're a fan of hard hitting, fast paced sci-fi you'll be disappointed by this book. It's a murder mystery, set in a futuristic setting, a mish mash of sci fi setting and 1950's detective genre characters. The world is well crafted with attention to detail, including interesting political machinations and lots of examples of how technology impacted on that future society. The scientific explanations made sense to me, and I enjoyed reading about the places and characters featured in the Android Board game (which I have only played once so far). The plot is fairly slow paced until near the end, when it explodes into action. The characters are somewhat wooden, no character development, reminiscent of characters in old black and white movies, and are iconic in their roles - the hard bitten ex military detective, the nosy but beautiful reporter. If you like detective novels or shows, AND you're a sci fi fan you will enjoy this book. If you have played and enjoyed the board game Android you will like this book. If you liked the movie Bladerunner, you will probably like this book. I think it may struggle to capture the attention of under 30's readers. Overall I enjoyed reading this book, but it's no classic.
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I'm a long-time reader and fan of Bill Keith's work, but this is the first of his books that I've reviewed, so take note. ;)
Can Keith write military? Check. Science fiction? Yes. But what's this...a *detective novel*?
It seemed a bit of a departure from much of his previous work, and I was intrigued. This book hooked me right away and, all reviewer cliches aside, I found it difficult to put down. Free Fall opens with an almost tongue-in-cheek nod to classic noir, and then pokes some self-deprecating fun at itself by acknowledging that very fact. From there, it's the perfect Keith balance: he lets the plot drive the pace, but helps it along by alternating between exposition and action with a deft touch. Despite the many necessary technical and scientific explanations of low-g and zero-g considerations, his narrative voice never becomes pedantic; and the action sequences are characteristically vivid and flow naturally. There's the requisite love interest which adds character depth without detracting from the main story, Keith's trademark attention to detail (which left me mentally forehead-smacking...of *course* his writing style is *perfectly* suited to this genre!), and just enough in-jokes to make SF fans giggle but not groan. (Seriously, the number of possible humorous cross-references for androids must have been painfully tempting, but the author sneaks in only a few, preferring a wink to a cream pie.)
Free Fall is a fun ride. The mystery kept me guessing almost to the very end, the setting was richly described, and the author skillfully presented almost all characters in a sympathetic light. A metaphysical subtext is evident throughout, but does not come across as heavy-handed; rather, it arises accordingly from the very nature of the conflict.Read more ›
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