Sean Williams is the author of thirty-five novels, eighty short stories and the odd odd poem. He writes across the field of science fiction and fantasy for adults, young adults and children, and enjoys the occasional franchise, too, such as Star Wars and Doctor Who. His work has won awards, debuted at #1 on the New York Times hardback bestseller list, and been translated into numerous languages. His latest series is Troubletwisters, co-written with Garth Nix. Visit him online at www.seanwilliams.com
This is the first volume in a series? Trilogy? I dunno. I can say that at least two more books follow it.So once again, it's the future: 2165 or around about that. It appears that by 2050, Earth had become all peaceable and stuff and also monstrously prosperous, thanks to technology. So everyone became real keen on exploring space. 'Cept that it would be really expensive and not terribly feasible to send human crews blasting around for hundreds of years to reach our nearest neighbors. So engram crews were sent instead: super-complex software recreations of actual people, or bodiless clones, if you will. This meant that the ships just basically had to be flying computers with some nanofacturing capabilities to build stuff at the destination. Also the engrams could basically ride along in stand-by mode, more or less sleeping, so as to not, you know, flip out through the sheer boredom of the long voyage.Well, at this here one distant destination, many light years away, and a hundred years after launch time, one engram does wig out over the basic disconnect over "my memories tell me I am Peter but really I know I am a computer program in a VR environment". So his crew dumps him in an android body on the planet's surface and tells him to just kind of putter about at the base camp there and stay out of their way. They get no transmissions from Earth, so obviously something happened during the trip and the home planet cannot or will not talk to them (although of course any real-time communications would be out of the question due to the years-long time lag).A coupla years later, the engrams are just minding their business and building robo-facilities and exploring and stuff, when, within a day, a bunch of linked orbital towers get connected via space elevator to the surface.Read more ›
Echoes of Earth is the first novel in a new series. It is the story of the destruction of civilization in the Solar System and the discovery of aliens with greatly superior technology, combining elements of Allen's Ring of Charon, Vinge's Marooned in Real Time, Williamson's Manseed and Pohl's Heechee series.In 2050, Earth begins to send out 1000 exploration ships containing engrams, cybernetic personality simulations, rather than actual humans. All the engram crews are based on only 60 personalities. One of these engrams, based on Peter Stanmore Alander, is particularly unstable, but all break down within a few decades.The engram ship Frank Tipler has the mission to Upsilon Aquarius. In 2160, the ship reaches its target and the engram crew begins their mission to study the solar system. They had lost communications with Earth shortly after they left, but are confident that Earth will contact them later. Alien ships suddenly enter the UA system and build 10 orbital towers -- beanstalks -- and an interconnecting ring in only a few hours as the engrams watch. Peter Alander, who has been permanently assigned an android body to slow down his personality deterioration, enters an alien device at the bottom of one tower and is carried up to orbit. There he encounters the Gifts, 11 artificial intelligences who control the advanced technology provided by the aliens as gifts to the less advanced humans. Among these gifts are devices to communicate and travel faster than light.The Gifts are programmed to obey only one person -- Peter Alander -- among the crew; the aliens, who the engrams call Spinners, apparently want the Gift recipients to absorb the new technology slowly to reduce cultural shock.Read more ›
Many different possible story lines in this one.This book could have been exploded into several novels just to get to the point where the story picks up.1. How the Earth and civilization changed during the 100 years the scouting team took to reach the star system. 2. How the scouting team developed its social and physical interactions. 3. More details on the gifts of the aliens.Now if you don't like to dig facts out, this is probably not your book. Many aspects will keep you puzzeled until they are finaly revealed in the story line. I happened to like this but you may not. I would definitely say that there are more books coming out to make this into a trilogy because there are still some major questions left unanswered at the end of the book.And uh, pay no attention the side plot that resembles a famous science fiction movie produced by Stanley Kubrick. Overall, I liked it very much and I especially like the up-to-date, hard science that was put into the story. And yes, the hero-protaganist is a flawed, passive-agressive person. But it's done well. Buy it! Especially if you like hard science fiction.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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I've been reading science fiction for 25 years, and these days it's rare for me to encounter something that evokes the same wonder and excitement I felt the first time I read Ringworld or the Foundation Trilogy. Echoes of Earth is just such a novel.This book held my attention from cover to cover, starting with the mystery of an alien race that bestows wonderous technological gifts to the first human interstellar explorers, and continuing with the frightening and awe-inspiring discovery by the explorers of just why Earth fell silent 100 years earlier. The conclusion of this book is the most surprising of all, but I will say nothing of that here, save that Williams and Dix take their storyline to an extreme that few authors would dare.One of the most gratifying things about Echoes of Earth is that the authors didn't just crank out a cookie cutter plot - there were plenty of unexpected surprises to keep me on my toes, and to lend a sense of freshness to the story. What's more, the choice of a damaged engram who is struggling to remain stable as the primary character adds another layer of interest to this novel. (An engram is a computer simulation of a human mind, based on the memories and personality of an actual person.)I can't really think of anything negative to say about this book. You should be forewarned, however, that when you get to the end you will immediately want to run out and purchase the next book in the series: Orphans of Earth. I know I did, because it's just that good!