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Up Against It (Tor Science Fiction) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Length: 417 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Compulsively readable and packed with challenging ideas, this hefty debut is set in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroid colony Phoecea survives by using nanotech to process huge chunks of methane ice, until sabotage by the Martian crime syndicate throws everything into jeopardy. Meanwhile, a feral AI is evolving within the colony's computer net, intending to spread throughout the solar system. The humans who have to cope with these threats are competent, endearing, and believably frazzled: Resource Commissioner Jane Navio has to make life and death decisions while watching her public approval rating fluctuate, and teen Geoff Agre and his rocketbike-riding friends make heroic choices while squabbling with their families and each other. Locke has created a believable ecosystem of struggling, competing, sometimes uncomfortably interacting components, where trust is betrayed painfully, but allies appear unexpectedly. Most of all, this smart, satisfying hard SF adventure celebrates human resilience. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


“Rigorous extrapolation with an imaginative flair, characters you can care about, and clean, lean, muscular prose are some of the hallmarks of  M. L. Locke, a bright light on the science fiction scene.  Fans of hard SF will eat this up and shout for more.”--George R. R. Martin

“Both original--full of smart new ways of looking at science fiction ideas--and old fashioned --full of the kind of whiz-bang action-adventure that made so many of us fall in love with SF in the first place."--Cory Doctorow

“Starts with a bang and only gets more intense in the pages that follow.  M.L. Locke fills the novel with the exciting, mindbending combination of action and wild ideas that makes for the best SF."--Jane Lindskold

Product Details

  • File Size: 2322 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0765315157
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 15, 2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004K1ERZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,222 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

M. J. Locke is the pseudonym for SF writer Laura J. Mixon, who lives in New Mexico with her husband, author Steven Gould, and their two daughters. She is an environmental engineer (trained originally as a chemical engineer) and served two years in Kenya in the Peace Corps. Her first five books came out under her Mixon byline. Current fiction comes out under M. J. Locke. Her work is often associated with the cyberpunk movement, and has been the focus of academic studies on the intersection of technology, feminism, and gender.

She is a graduate of the Clarion writing workshop and an instructor at the Viable Paradise genre writing workshop on Martha's Vineyard. She blogs occasionally at (general) and (writing-related), and tweets as @MorganJLocke (primary) and @LauraJMG.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not often one for hard science fiction because ...well partially because my science isn't that strong... but also because so much hard science-fiction focuses on the detail with the result that the scientific explanations and world-building overshadow the story. Too often, a brilliantly imagined world is inhabited by lacklustre protagonists who have low-level conflicts against one-dimensional enemies.

Up Against It is a brilliant counter-example: characterisation and plot shine against a futuristic backdrop beyond my wildest imaginations. It is set in an Phocaea, a low-gee asteroid outpost filled with awesome special effects and deep world-building - all the hallmarks of a real future. The inhabitants are used to this, even if I as a reader wasn't, and tumble through the buildings, grabbing handholds and using their weight in ways that downsiders like us can barely envisage.

I fell in love with Geoff the moment we met him and his friends: a teenager overshadowed by his brother, trying desperately to prove himself to his father and the world. A boy both vulnerable and incorrigible who gets thrown into events and doesn't falter.

Jane is a sympathetic bureaucrat trying to do the best that she can for the asteroid which she calls home, taking tough decisions on a personal and professional level. She has a short temper when it comes to politics and a healthy dislike for the constant broadcast of their colony as Earthside entertainment.

On top of this, the adventure packed plot involving the Martian mafia and you've got a rip-roaring story that had me turning pages deep into the night.

I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Up Against It is my most anticipated debut this year. M. J. Locke paints a picture of space colonization in a not to far future in this thrilling story of a criminal takeover attempt of Phocaea, a strategic and independent asteroid colony.

There are two main characters Geoff and Jane. Geoff is coming of age as he and his young rocketbike-riding friends become central to the events. He witnesses how his beloved brother Carl is killed in the mysterious accident that destroys the colony's supply of methane and water. Jane is the city administrator in charge of supplies and she soon discovers that there is more to the accident and starts to suspect the Martian Mafia is behind it all, since they conveniently have the only load in range to save the colony. She also has been through it all before on Vesta when the Mafia took over there. Jane has to struggle both with the Mafia and her fellow administrators.

The tale follows the two main characters as they in their own ways try to save the colony. There is some teen love, a mysterious trans-human cult, lots of action on the asteroid and in space, kidnappings, and a fleet of thugs on their way. The accident also spawns a feral AI that complicates things.

The world building is good and quite interesting. We get glimpses here and there that hints at the greater universe. Earth is a refugee camp after an ecological breakdown and people in space have a better life but life outside the atmosphere is dangerous as the events here show. Life in the colonies are televised to earth by small mobile cameras that are everywhere, the colony managements have an allotment of privacy minutes every week.

I really like the characters and the world building and I hope M. J. Locke is going to write more in this world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book deserves 4 stars for renovating old tropes:
>Hollowed asteroids for human habitation. The shell of this asteroid doesn't spin, but an inner spindle of cities creates centripetal force.
Prospectors bringing in metals, water, and fuel frozen in the asteroids. Once on Phoecea, they are reduced to atoms for re-assembly.
Modifications to the human body. Improved eyes. Neon tattoos as women's makeup. Beings who artistically modify their own DNA.
>Extending networking technology to incorporate virtual reality, conferencing (or conversely, privacy bubbles), AIs as personal assistants all via neural implants. If that can be done, then hackers will also tap into your head.
I gave 5 stars for:
>Characterization. Jane is an older bureaucrat, accustomed to walking a tightrope. Her department disassembles waste and scrap to make new assemblies. It handles shipping, provides hydroponic food and power. Her home is in the asteroid belt where solar radiation is almost nil. The asteroid must buy ice/methane shipments to offset heat and oxygen losses. The balancing act requires her constant attention.
Geoff is a talented guy who fails to measure up to his older brother. When not in school, he chills with three other friends, trying to delay that time when they must become contributing members of the colony. Like others, he thinks nothing of riding out to his own asteroid.
Viridians, modified humans, dealing with rejection and discrimination but still available when the colony needs them.
>Imagery of asteroids- the dust and irregular surfaces, their veins of silica and metals, and measuring their gravity to calculate density. All from up close and personal, not from the safety of a ship.
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