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The Birth of the Dread Remora Paperback – March 24, 2011
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There are some things to praise here, concepts like the implied future of humanity as an evolved underwater-based organism (due to the melting of the icecaps? never made clear), and the hints of what such a society might be like at the moment it's making its break for the stars.
I have two very fundamental issues with this novel, though, basic science and plot mechanics.
The violations of basic physics are t00 numerous to count, so I'll cite two simple examples. The first is the idea that sonar (or any sound-based technology) works in a vacuum. The second is the idea that if two ships dock with one another, a slight pressure differential between them will somehow prevent commingling of atmospheres (be they gas or liquid) rather than result in equalization. There are other (slightly subtler) examples, but if those two don't bother you then you probably won't mind the others, and shouldn't avoid reading this based on the science alone.
Which brings us to the plot. Spoilers ahead. What starts off as a mission to learn about a celestial phenomenon observed from the earth is derailed when the ship and crew are assaulted by space pirates. After the pirates have come and gone (having killed the captain) the ship has about 4 weeks of supplies left, and an estimated 3 week return trip to earth. The officer left in charge by the captain's death decides to head home. His second in command (and the protagonist of the novel) cannot believe this decision, because the mission is unfulfilled, and eventually successfully stages a mutiny with the enthusiastic support of the crew.Read more ›
But - and this is a relatively big but - once you accept the nature of this book and let yourself get sucked into the narrative, it's a perfectly enjoyable, fun ride. The story progresses logically, if a bit hastily on occasions, and brings the Remora and its crew to a point in the end that should provide very interesting storytelling opportunities for the following stories.
The characterisation is decent, but as a result of the focus on one particular crew member, Nathaniel Demming, from whose perspective the third person story is told, it's a bit too one-sided for my liking. Several of the characters do show potential, but since you only see them through the eyes of Demming it's a bit hard to really identify with them. I was surprised how much I actually liked the nautical feel of the story and behaviour of the characters, though, but I guess it just felt natural for a sea-based lifeform even in space. As with the plot there are some minor things with the characters that, while not game-changing, made me do a double-take, like when the acting captain resigns and pretty much just disappears afterwards. Maybe it's just me, but the way his character was developed beforehand, I have a hard time believing that he would remain still once he had calmed down and regrouped somewhat.Read more ›
But the science! Soooo many things are just -wrong-.
1) The ship has gravity with no mention of how or why.
2) Eating soup and crackers while in water.
3) Showing sweat on your face while in water.
4) The 'impellers' work in space. They pull in particles and shoot them out the back. There are vvveerrryyy few particles in space. The idea of them moving a ship with the added mass of all of that water is just silly.
5) Sound does not travel in a vaccum. Sonar would -not- work.
6) Anything 'sonic' will not work in space. Sonics requires vibrating -something- usually air. There is no air in space, so you can't bounce off asteroids. Using this to launch into space is already semi-ridiculous, but using it while in space, is just crazy.
I struggled getting through the book for the sole reason that I really do like the underlying ideas and story. The writer really should have passed the technological elements by some friends before putting them in the book. They really detract from what could be a good 'thrown under the bus and need to succeed' SF story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just a fun read.
Exactly what you would expect for a short book in this genre.
A great way to relax and escape from our busy world for a few hours.
I hadn't read a purely science fiction book for a while. This was a good one to get back into sci-fi with. Read morePublished on March 29, 2014 by Kathie Howard
Struck me a a rather 'puppy mill' science fiction book. SCIFI on a boiler plate. Did not like it very much. Read morePublished on February 28, 2014 by booknut
Easy and quick to read. Good plot, but several of the facts made no sense whatever, I just skipped past them.Published on February 23, 2014 by William Breckenridge
The science in this was incredibly bad. Sound - including sonar - transmitting through space is just one of the mind boggling examples.Published on February 14, 2014 by sf fan 345
should have read the reviews, but it was an ok story. I feel it is more geared to a younger audiencePublished on February 3, 2014 by dog mama
Unlikely, in imaginative, uninteresting come to mind when I think of this ..book. It must have been a struggle for the author as well. So much time and so little contentPublished on February 2, 2014 by S. Wayne Hubbard
I really loved the basic story here, but it felt like the author had never even read a sci fi book before. You should not have made them humans. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Dahak72