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9
The Next Continent (Novel)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2010
I frequently hear complaints (entirely justified) about lack of believable near-future science fiction, especially optimistic kind. Well, look no more: here is one. The language seems rather flat (maybe it is translator's fault), but otherwise it is a good story, and is both refreshingly optimistic about where world will go over next couple decades, and seems grounded in reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2011
The cover is bit lurid but the content is terrific. Solid scifi about the dangers and disasters we're likely to encounter with any serious attempt to establish a moon base, played out against a backdrop of conflicted human motivations.

It grabbed me from the first paragraph, and while the language is occasionally clunky, I suspect that's more lost in translation than original writing (and I'm not intending to be critical because without the translation I'd never have read this engaging novel).

The physics and science of rocketry, low gee construction and even the presence of water in craters on the moon is very now, which just adds to the fun. And while America claims ownership of 'The Right Stuff', the masters and owners of the corporate concerns funding this effort show that concept to be truly global, right down to the wise-beyond-her-years driving force behind the whole venture. Oh yeah, and the name dropping of a veritable who's who of Japanese heavy industry is funky as well. Forget US and European companies, it's the land of the rising sun all the way, and really, why not?

Then, with a twist reminiscent of Peter F Hamilton's "The Nano Flower", the whole crazy house of cards comes together neatly at the end, with a closing plot line that's screaming for a sequel.

Heartily recommended if you like your scifi with a serious lashing of the 'sci.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2013
My heading says it-this book was hard to put down.Expecting a quick read instead found an well written and engrossing read. The author takes the reader on a journey to the moon and most realistically. From the idea of going to the moon and building habitation there to the design and development phase through the actual living there. The characters are believable as well as the actions of the nation-states involved. Can actually see these events playing out in near future. Japan can be the vanguard of humanities outreach to space as the world needs to expand its horizons. Will purchase other books by author. Publisher is HaikaSoru-have read other books-recommend titles by them as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
I'll start off with this might not be five stars for everyone, but I found this an engaging and interesting vision of a much more commercial future, and possibly not too far off the mark. There is some romance in this too, and some tension, especially towards the end. People without stars in their eyes may not enjoy this as much as me, but I could barely put it down until I was done reading it. Very engaging and well thought out.
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on November 17, 2010
The chapter titles alone show the seriousness of intent of The Next Continent's journey into space exploration and colonisation. Part 1 is entitled 'Feasibility Study and Draft Plan, 2025', while the opening chapter is 'Project Site and Initial Planning'. Don't be put off. The novel isn't quite as dry and academic as the business-like tone makes it sound, rather, like Hosuke Nojiri's Rocket Girls also recently published by Haikasoru, it realistically considers the prospect of further space exploration as being the preserve of commercial enterprise rather than forming part of any national government's space programme.

Unlike Rocket Girls however, which was rather more convincing in its science-fiction predictions than its human characterisation, Issui Ogawa considers the reality of building on the moon and living in space in less than ideal conditions and takes into account the impact it is likely to have on the individual as well as society in general. Here in The Next Continent, it's the Gotoba Engineering & Construction company, experts in extreme construction with developments in the Sahara, the Antarctic, the Himalayas and with deep-sea bases in the South China Seas, who are employed by a wealthy investor to create a base on the moon for people to live in, thereby establishing a Sixth Continent. Ostensibly, as the investor is the owner of a successful Japanese theme park, the project would appear to be for tourism purposes, but with it being unlikely to ever pay back on the literally astronomical amount of the investment, what is the real reason for the development?

There's no doubting the seriousness of purpose that Issui Ogawa takes towards realistically considering the possibility of commercial space exploration. Every minute detail of the vast project is considered in-depth. Spires and cities do not just pop-up on the moon by themselves, as in a traditional science-fiction adventure, but the author rather considers the requirements of transporting raw materials, the rocket technology that would be required to lift such payloads and suggest possible alternative means of construction.

Again, that might sound very dry and academic, but Issui Ogawa never loses sight of the human factor in all this science, creating fascinating and believable characters, but also recognising that it is the restless drive in the nature of humanity to explore the limits of its environment, to set itself challenges and extend its reach, that will be the determining factor that overrides the business cost/benefit model that would otherwise quash any commercial enterprise. It's about the idealisation and realisation of dreams, without which humanity would never have embarked on any seemingly impossible endeavour, and their winning out over complacency and hard-headed rationalism.

Issui Ogawa's writing, already seen in his fascinating sci-fi epic The Lord of the Sands of Time, is wonderful here, and the translation seems more fluid. He takes in the logistical considerations realistically without ever getting bogged down in too much technical detail and mixes it with human aspirations in a manner that makes the project to create a moon base credible and genuinely exciting. Sure, everything flows rather smoothly and schematically according to that timetable set out in the Table of Contents, but the author considers the risks involved, as well as the personal, commercial and international competitiveness that is bound to ensue, making each stage of the fantastic journey thrilling and gripping reading.
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on September 2, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the simple reason: It Was Totally Realistic !

It's a near-future story about a consortium of Asian companies preparing to expand into space, that has already conquered the Sahara, the Antarctic, and the ocean's depths. They refused to allow the US and EU into the consortium because they thought that big corporations wouldn't display or follow their ethical ideal. Okay maybe that's a bit unrealistic, but then again, Issui Ogawa is Japanese, so maybe it's okay.

Maybe it's the language, or the money used ( yen ), or the translation from Japanese, or something else , but the book was good and could have been better

Maybe I'll learn Japanese and read the untranslated version.
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on January 25, 2011
I purchased this, along with a whole slew of titles from the haikasoru label, after reading the excellent The Ouroboros Wave. I think Keris Nine's review nails it. The story is mostly character driven, but there is plenty of hard science sprinkled throughout. The author has intertwined the plot, the characters and the science so well that you absorb the science almost incidentally. Like most good scifi, I only wish the book were longer, but it certainly isn't short at ~400 pages.
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on July 19, 2015
I would give this book 5 stars. However back in 2010 I notified the publishers of a math error. As of July 2015 they still haven't corrected it. For a book that is otherwise well researched hard science fiction, this error is a fly in the ointment.
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on June 18, 2015
if you like odd Asian sci-fi and Anime then read this.
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