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Half Way Home Paperback – February 27, 2013
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Why do we send humans if machines can do the work? Nowadays (almost ten years ago or more) we send machines to Mars... it's not Sci-Fi.
With intergalactic technology... We send humans?... No... We only send humans if we really needed to investigate. Machines can do all the hard work remotely I suppose.
If machines maintain and sustain human beings on a voyage they can do very well on extracting resources without terraforming those planets. And good and rare metals or precious materials are more easily extracted from meteors, or rocks in orbit with bigger planets. Do you see what NASA is proposing actually? Hugh, please read what USA congress just passed, or approved. A law that determines ownership of every single raw material extracted at space. Use present evidence on how science is going to plot more and sustainable novels.
While I sorta compare this to Tunnel in the Sky (one of my favorite Heinlein novels) and Lord of the Flies, neither is an accurate analogy. Still though, you can't help but feel that both of these novels influenced this book in a good way. While society doesn't devolve as far as in the Lord of the Flies, Howey does take on some topics that may make some people uncomfortable; but never does he do it for a cheap thrill. And at the same time that sense of young people exploring a foreign planet and trying to make the best of their situation against some big challenges is there too.
It's a story full of both hope and regret- a balance that a lot of authors try to find but often miss. I won't argue that any new territory was charted here in asking the big questions, but at the same time I found it a very satisfying story that does discuss some important questions and provides the observant reader some interesting answers. And while I have a small disagreement with the ending (I'm not sure how many people noticed, so I won't bother pointing it out) I do feel that the conclusion was a solid one.
Well worth reading.
In the future, individual "nations" (none explicitly named) compete with one another sending automated colony ships to the stars. Since it's impossible to evaluate the viability of a colony from Earth, each Colony is sent with a complex AI which will evaluate a lot of factors and decide if it's viable (mind you: economically viable) to establish the Colony or if it should be aborted. Viability means growing some colonists via vats and teaching them their professions while they're growing, and deploy some Von Neumann machines for harvesting, mining etc.; unviability means destroying everything and everyone with nukes.
The characters on "Half Way Home" are born in the middle of an abort, something that should never happen. Somehow has made the AI change its opinion on the Colony mid-process. But what and why?
Interesting premise, not so interesting characters, and a somehow dull resolution to the mistery makes a minor novel that entertains, but fails to really capture the imagination as the Silo novels did.
As a gay male, the homosexual protagonist wasn't at all necessary: his sexuality was barely elaborated on and contributed almost nothing to his development. While I appreciate more representation in fiction, I would prefer it to be done well and in a meaningful way.
The plot felt rushed, almost as if Howey got bored of his story and tried to end it as soon as he could. The ending, in particular, comes out of nowhere and is unsatisfying.
That all being said, the book did hold my attention and I did finish it within a day...something that, sadly, not all books can make me do. I was wrapped up in the potential of this story, rather than turned off by its obvious shortcomings. If you can get it for cheap and like decent sci-fi, it's worth a read. If you're looking for something more thought-provoking, however, I suggest you look elsewhere.