- Series: Android
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games (August 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616610972
- ISBN-13: 978-1616610975
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Android: Free Fall Paperback – August 30, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. I'm not familiar with the ANDROID universe and cannot speak to this book's accuracy, but it reads very well in isolation. That said, I hope to see a return of Detective Harrison and a continuation of William Keith-penned mysteries.
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. These don't detract from the book and are easy to fix (I just make a mental erratum and keep going.) And I do love the detailed science descriptions in my books and applaud Bill for putting them in there. However, if the author chooses to put in scientific detail, the onus is on him to get those details right. (Bill, if you are reading this, I'm hoping these errors can be corrected in the next printing if there is one? Or that you can show me that I'm mistaken in thinking these are errors? I'm happy to send you details.)
2. I felt that the book wasn't quite polished enough. I felt that there were some quasi-repetitions and that in general the writing could have been leaner. There were also one or two inconsistencies in dates. (Again, Bill, if you're reading this, I'm happy to send you the details.)
3. For those not familiar with the Android universe, some things and characters may feel contrived, and it may be easy to get lost in the richness and the number of different characters. I think you need to pay close attention if you're not familiar with the Android universe.
The bottom line is that even though this book won't win any awards for literary style or character development, and is a bit rough around the edges in general, it blew all my (understandably low) expectations. You won't be disappointed if you if you appreciate murder mysteries, and if you dig detailed sci-fi settings complete with hard science and sociopolitics. And especially if you want to see the world of Android richly fleshed out.