- File Size: 594 KB
- Print Length: 584 pages
- Publication Date: December 5, 2010
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004FV4YUM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,487 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
In the Shadow of Ares (Amber's Mars Book 1) Kindle Edition
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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The narrative, while paced a bit slowly at first, is well developed and quickly picks up momentum as the book goes on. The story, while simple in broad strokes, is compelling and engaging, and the lead characters are well fleshed out.
The "hard" style of science fiction here is refreshing, as well as the firm grounding in science fact. The authors present a very plausible future version of Mars and some future technologies.
However, the books antagonists often feel two-dimensional, and are not well developed. At times (literally) the whole world seems stacked against our protagonist, Amber, no matter what she does. Whether this is a apt expression of the teenage condition or a literary crutch is up to the reader. More tellingly, motivations for the antagonists are lacking or ill-defined, and often they feel like mustache-twirling video game villains. This sensation is compounded whenever the point of view shifts to an antagonistic character - sometimes it is almost comical.
These villains seem to exist to backstop one of the books other core tenants - the supremacy of free-market, laissez-faire capitalism. The ultimate antagonistic force of the book is the "MDA," a comical bureaucracy which seems to solely exist to further its own ends. The MDA serves here as a proxy for the author's opinions of the European Union, which is called out by name in the text.
Ayn Rand and her novel "Atlas Shrugged" are undoubtedly strong influences on this text, and in broad strokes, the plot of both novels could be compared and seen to align at key points. However, no matter your political leanings, this book is a compelling and entertaining read, with a likable and understandable protagonist.
Despite being written as a young-adult-style novel with a teen protagonist, "In the Shadow of Ares" should appeal to all fans of space and speculative fiction, who are looking for an at-times intense but ultimately lighthearted book to enjoy.
I recommend this for teens and precocious preteens. I'm very picky concerning language and content and I have no qualms in recommending this. Some young readers might find it slow moving at first, but the excitement does grow exponentially and smarty kids would love the martian knowledge shared as the story builds and that knowledge does become important. Eventually, the excitement will make it hard for kids to put it down. The protagonist is a good model but (like all teens) makes mistakes.
I also recommend this for adults. Some of us have gotten caught up in work, maybe a focus on the bottom line, and have forgotten other things that we enjoy, such as a sunrise or just noticing an interesting stone. That sense of wonder is regained for some characters and, perhaps, for the reader.
The novel has a liberty theme, and it even was nominated for the 2012 Prometheus award for best novel. The preaching is short and is there as part of the plot, quite consistent with the characters and important to the story. Some notions explored in the novel are "state is as state does" and "my ideas". A freedom thinker will find food for thought. The bad guys are the usual controlling stereotypes, and it adds to the humor of the novel. (Perhaps this is a gentle introduction to freedom oriented SF.)
The science looks good to me; I learned a lot, too. And the future technology is believable and quite accessible. Both are important to the tale. This is excellent SF.
The look at a Mars culture in the transition period of early colonization is excellent. The social and linguistic development is interesting, but it does not interfere with the story and it is easy to grasp. Nothing gets in the way of a good read.
I found the book to be funny, but the humor does not get in the way of the adventure and nor does it belittle the peril. It is more of an enjoyment of life and the enjoyment of the quirks of those around us, including loved ones and machines.
The Kindle edition has some very rare, very minor paragraph formatting issues. All content is there and the novel is quite readable. Do not pass this up because I mention some tiny flaws. Also, the Kindle edition was handy in my looking up the few science words that were new to me such as "yardang".
The book is suitable for reading aloud. In only very rare cases does helmet display text intrude on narration.
I look forward to sequels. I crave for them. Give them to me! I want a sequel, now!! Arrrrrr!!!!
Um. Highly recommended.
It has been said that most Hollywood plots would collapse if only the characters told the truth in the first few minutes. That is certainly true also of this book, and eventually annoyed me as the protagonist Amber, "first kid on Mars", continually chose not to communicate with her parents. Speaking as a parent, that's not behavior I want teens to emulate.
Leaving villains humiliated but not yet punished for severe crimes also bothered me. Presumably, this leaves room for more volumes in a series.
What I particularly enjoyed was the clear defense of free market economics, individual liberty, and the dangers of "going along to get along." There was also a vivid description of how a settled Mars might be achieved and operate.
Overall, well written and fun to read.