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Up Against It (Tor Science Fiction) [Kindle Edition]

M. J. Locke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $6.83
You Save: $1.16 (15%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of 'Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans' lives.

Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff's brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant x-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.

In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony's resource manager -- a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She's more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of 'Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty contest competitor.  Her manoeuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.


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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.

Review

“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: 896 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004K1ERZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,675 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
(11)
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Story Enclosed in an Amazing World March 31, 2011
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promising Hard SF debut April 4, 2011
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice first try April 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading "Up Against It" on my Kindle, and didn't know exactly how I'd rate it until the last page. Before going any further, let me say, it's worth the read. The characters are for the most part engaging, and the hard SF setting does the author credit. That being said there are some major drawbacks to this work.

Most glaring amongst these is the use of language. Parts of the book were hard to read because of a mix of Japanese slang, and terms that were never defined. I realize that SF is always going to have some terminology, some slang, and a few made up items, but they need to be explained. I studied Japanese and know what "chinpo" means, but I doubt the average reader will.

The plot is also rather shallow. Yes, there is adventure and a who-done-it, but the story is not well thought out or particularly well written. Think the first two books of the "Sword of Truth" series. I believe this is the first book from this author, and I look forward to leaps and bounds in writing style in the future.

Lastly, I can't stand Jane, one of the two main protagonists. Personal preference, I realize, but she annoyed me throughout.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nebulous future for Colonists April 5, 2013
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Baddies one step away from a mustache twirl, but a great read...
This was a very enjoyable read, managing a good mix of futuristic elements, character exploration and gumshoe detective story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by William Annis
4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive and exciting!
I really liked this book! I found myself easily immersed in the characters' world. At certain points during reading, I stopped and said, "noooo, don't do that! Read more
Published on August 13, 2012 by Krin
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific hard SF debut novel
Morgan J. Locke, writing here as M. J. Locke, may not be a familiar name to SF readers, but with her debut novel, she shows herself as an author to be watched. Read more
Published on February 25, 2012 by Tom Negrino
3.0 out of 5 stars Richly detailed but flawed physics
The strength of this book lies in the complex details and sociology of the civilization. There are mainstream people and there are subcultures much as exist in the real world. Read more
Published on January 31, 2012 by Harvey A. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Title, great read!
Just so you know where I'm coming from, I grew up reading Larry Niven, and haven't been real impressed with SF except for Mike Brotherton. Read more
Published on July 31, 2011 by Philip J. Herman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first novel
Those of us who grew up at the feet of such golden-age luminaries as Asimov, Bester, and Clarke remember the thrills of the race to the moon, and the dread of possible global... Read more
Published on April 25, 2011 by Tom Smedley
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one false note
Hit all the right notes. The characters were sympathetic, the technology interesting, and the plot compelling. Highly recommended.
Published on March 23, 2011 by Amazon Customer
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