Chimera (Universe Eventual) (Volume 1) Paperback – April 25, 2015
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"...the writing is vibrant and direct with young characters who show the same bravery, impatience and enthusiasm as their real-world counterparts ... a trait shared with some of the best work of Asimov and Anne McCaffrey."
--Brendan Foley, author of Under the Wire
"An epic tale of rebellion, prophecy, and perseverance. With touches of Ender's Game, and echoes of Asimov and Heinlein, this visionary story is a tense, exhilarating ride."
--Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration
From the Author
This is not a fluffy work of YA dystopia but a genuine science fiction novel. It contains dystopian elements, but while the government of Stephen's Point might be a bit draconian, they're far from malevolent and do have the colonists' best interests in mind.
Chimera is the first in a series of novels. Book II: Helios, will be released in October 2015, with Book III: Ceres, due early spring 2016.
A brief preview of Chimera:
Selena climbed from her bunk in the tiny berth she shared with her father. Her bare feet connected with the floor--so cold it felt hot against the soles of her feet. The whole room was icy. Its dimensions shifted, ebbing and flowing, the walls made of some impermanent material.
Crunching over grit coating the floor, she reached the doorway that led to the cubbyhole bedroom that held her father's bunk and a dresser. Should she knock? Selena placed her ear against the door, listening. Her father didn't like it when she knocked, not after a night out. But something was wrong--with her, or with the berth. She needed his help.
"Dad!" she called, louder this time. Her voice sounded strange--thin and scratchy. Why did her head hurt so? Did she have a migraine? The room flickered and wavered, worse than before. Static frizzed away behind the door. No, not static. Rushing water, like the shower she and Liam rented once or twice a month at Johnson's Handy Grab. Their berth lavatory used chemicals.
"Is that a vid?" she asked, knowing it couldn't be. The sound intensified.
"I'm coming in," Selena said, pulling the latch. Her arm felt as inflexible as a piece of steel rebar. The pain between her temples soared. What was wrong with her? What was wrong with everything?
Through the open doorway, she saw nothing but the shadowed shape of the bed. She stepped inside. A flow of ice water rushed around her ankles. The surging current sucked her feet out from under her and sent her toppling backward. Water drenched her clothing, burning her skin. It pulled her down, submerging her, stealing her breath. Terrible cold enveloped her.
Selena kicked, trying to reach the surface of the flow--a glassy tapestry of dark and light shapes that must be chunks of ice. They looked familiar. They looked like fragments, a sea of moving shapes ....
The rim! She watched in amazement as breath left her lips and turned to steam. I'm not drowning. I'm in the trawler!
Her eyes opened.
For a moment, she felt the relief of waking from a nightmare. The interface glowed in front of her, but her arm wouldn't obey, refusing to reach out and connect. Something sticky coated her face. Groggy and terrified, Selena turned her head to the side, allowing a narrow view of the back of the cabin. One of her father's black boots lay beyond a chunk of twisted metal, toe aimed up, silver buckle dark gray in the dim light. The foot inside the boot twitched. Horror swallowed her.
She dug at her harness, but it wouldn't loosen. "Dad, wake up!" Selena fought the straps, ignoring the pain in her lungs. "You have to wake up! I'm stuck. I can't get loose. You've got to do something!"
The hiss of venting atmosphere filled the cabin. She couldn't get free from the straps, her father motionless behind her. He might be unconscious. He might be dead. A horrible, dark thought entered her mind: she should have let them explode against the surface of the shard. At least then their deaths would have come quickly and without pain.
The interface pulsed, fading in and out, running on reserve power. Her spider remained connected to the trawler, but Selena had no access to external sensors. The core must have gotten damaged; it whumped away in the aft of the ship, struggling to maintain load. The very heart of The Bee, desperately working to convert the water in the steam jet lines to oxygen. Doing what her design demanded, sacrificing her core to save her crew.
The Bee hadn't given up fighting. Neither would Selena.
- Lexile Measure : HL720L
- Item Weight : 12.5 ounces
- Paperback : 276 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1943671001
- ISBN-13 : 978-1943671007
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.63 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : UE Origins (April 25, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,451,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I liked the character Selena the most. Theo is believable, but sometimes he falls short of my expectancy. By the end of the book he starts learning and growing, but I suspect his real growth will take place later in the trilogy, so as readers we have to be patient with this character's evolution.
So far I recommend it. You'll spend a nice time reading this book and will enjoy the plot. Don't expect a heavy Sci-Fi thing. It is not. It's more like the Star Wars universe with technology that sounds awesome but lacks scientific explanation. An explanation that is not needed, so you won't miss the scientific part.
The premise is an interesting one: a big, greedy, bankrupt corporation is punished by sending all its employees and executives to a far away moon to work almost as slaves (mining ecomire, a break-through fuel) until the corporation's debts are paid. It takes several generations to pay the debt. When it is almost paid, contact with Earth is broken. Because the moon is incapable of producing enough food, the colony's days are counted unless somebody returns to Earth. A crew of gifted teenagers is selected to board the Chimera, the spaceship in which the first settlers travelled several generations ago, and that nobody knows how to pilot.
Interesting, isn't it?
Go head and enjoy this good reading!
Marcus, a highly disturbed and ruthless individual, and Theo, a genius hacker with few other talents, face off in the opening scenes. Their competition and fierce dislike for each other only grow, as they enter the mandated selection process for the crew of the Chimera. A terrible secret both repels and attracts them, as they dance ever smaller circles around each other, teeth bared.
Selena and her alcoholic father live a hardscrabble existence in The Scrapyard, home to roughneck miners who try to make a living harvesting a substance called ecomire. A potential fortune causes Selena, an extremely gifted pilot, to take a lethal gamble with her and her father's lives, and their ship, in order to hit the mother lode of ecomire. She loses. In a legal and emotional tailspin, the injured Selena slips toward a life of meaningless oblivion, when it is discovered that she may be the only one able to wake the sentient ship Chimera from her deep slumber. Finally, her destiny intertwines with those of Theo and Marcus, as a horrifying event throws the entire colony into crisis.
The characters are extremely well written and engaging. Their layers and depths emerge gradually, as they are changed by the enormous challenges they face. The pacing is excellent. The descriptions are engaging without being over detailed, and the stakes are the life or death of the place they call home. Overall, a highly recommended read. This self-confessed sci-fi nut is looking forward to the next book in the series.
Top reviews from other countries
We also meet my favourite character, a trawler pilot's daughter called Serena. She is living up to her family name. The trio are inspired by the Chimera, a spacecraft being reconstructed for the long journey. The Chimera however sort of has an awareness of its own, and it does not want new crew. The colony has started to get desperate for resources, and the young people turn out to be considered expendable if needs be.
There's some mildly strong language but older teen readers should be fine. This is a complex story in which characters start to learn and grow and take chances. Three authors combined to write Chimera and I'll be interested to see how the plot turns out in the next books.
I received an ARC for an unbiased review.
As with any sci-fi story there's always a necessary element of world building, which in some stories can be long winded and off putting to some. This works very well in Chimera as the description of Stephen's Point isn't heavy or dull, indeed it is drip fed to the reader in tasty morsels that prompts you to want to read more. It's easy to read, but that doesn't make the world or characters any less rich or exciting than vast tomes of sci-fi epic space dramas I've read in the past.
As I've mentioned, the story is rich enough in setting to be enticing but not so much that the world building element detracts from the plot or indeed the purpose of the characters. They all work very well together. I'm not a fan of drawn maps in books, and seldom look at them, so I didn't examine the map at the start of the book until after I'd finished reading. I'm glad I skipped it too as my imagination painted quite a different view compared to that crafted by the authors. I did get a wonderful sense of future technology on its last legs, power failing, buildings in ruins, rusting tugs roaming an asteroid belt and a population clinging on for survival.
There were times when I pictured Stephen's Point as a vast craggy asteroid - a hunk of rock that had never quite made it being a complete planet yet had managed to develop an environment fit for human habitat. I guess since the plot revolved around Stephen's Point for the most part it didn't feel like a complete world as the inhabitants didn't seem to stray farther afield. Not that it matters, the story worked beautifully to aid in the imaginative process of building that place regardless of what details the authors map contained.
I was reminded of the first Alien movie and Space Truckers where the space ship trawlers, barges and tugs were concerned. They came across as hardy workhorses, lived in by working class people struggling to scrape together enough money for the next meal or patch up repair job so they can get back to the rim for another salvage run. No glistening white and chrome there, just realistic grime and sweat, like that of a battered old car that still keeps going no matter how many miles are put on the clock.
The contrast between the fleet of salvage ships and the Hydra and Chimera is striking, the former are clunky, lacking in grace (despite how well Selena piloted The Bee) and the large looming vessels felt sleek, more advanced, purer you could say.
The majority of characters were well utilised and developed enough to enjoy, or enjoy disliking in the case of Marcus, yet even he had some redeeming features. Theo came across as a bit of a cry baby, sorry for himself in a way. That's to be expected as without that his character arc wouldn't have worked. Some would say that Selena is the best character, though I found her a tad on the clichéd side - typical head strong, intelligent, hardened and rough sort who I had pegged as the unwilling saviour or hero near the start.
The character I liked the most was the trainer, Sir, who I would have loved to see more of, possibly having a chapter or two of his own. As for the others going through the Selection, I didn't care for them much, possibly because they didn't have enough page time for me to warrant caring about them. But then, the same could be said for many YA stories where the backdrop of characters are there to support the main cast. I felt they could have been developed a little more so I could picture them better.
In a similar sense I felt the Chimera herself was underplayed, though I suspect she will come into focus more in the sequels. I would have liked to have read more about her struggle with her imprisonment within her AI confines - a fascinating subject worthy of exploration. As it stands the bits that centre around her are indeed intriguing, but not yet explored enough to make her a gripping part of the story.
And then we come to the essence of the plot - the building of the Chimera and the Selection of crew to pilot it so the colony can be saved by returning to Earth. There are elements of peril and threat there, yet it's not quite enough. There's no immediate danger pushing the characters to make decisions. If they didn't rebuild the Chimera and didn't put cadets through the Selection then they'd likely run out of food and resources in a year or so. Perhaps. That in itself wasn't enough for me. I wanted more immediacy in the plot, something that made the characters jump and say "Holy crap, we better get going, like right now!"
Despite lacking that drive and urgency early on, it did indeed come in the final few chapters, which gives me hope the sequel will blossom and shoot along at a brisk pace. With the world building and major plot structure in place, I believe the sequels will have that missing element. There's nothing wrong with the pace as such, and the build-up in worth the wait, as is the wait to read the next book.