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on April 5, 2013
The book deserves 4 stars for renovating old tropes:
>Hollowed asteroids for human habitation. The shell of this asteroid doesn't spin, but an inner spindle of cities creates centripetal force.
Prospectors bringing in metals, water, and fuel frozen in the asteroids. Once on Phoecea, they are reduced to atoms for re-assembly.
Modifications to the human body. Improved eyes. Neon tattoos as women's makeup. Beings who artistically modify their own DNA.
>Extending networking technology to incorporate virtual reality, conferencing (or conversely, privacy bubbles), AIs as personal assistants all via neural implants. If that can be done, then hackers will also tap into your head.
I gave 5 stars for:
>Characterization. Jane is an older bureaucrat, accustomed to walking a tightrope. Her department disassembles waste and scrap to make new assemblies. It handles shipping, provides hydroponic food and power. Her home is in the asteroid belt where solar radiation is almost nil. The asteroid must buy ice/methane shipments to offset heat and oxygen losses. The balancing act requires her constant attention.
Geoff is a talented guy who fails to measure up to his older brother. When not in school, he chills with three other friends, trying to delay that time when they must become contributing members of the colony. Like others, he thinks nothing of riding out to his own asteroid.
Viridians, modified humans, dealing with rejection and discrimination but still available when the colony needs them.
>Imagery of asteroids- the dust and irregular surfaces, their veins of silica and metals, and measuring their gravity to calculate density. All from up close and personal, not from the safety of a ship.
>The thought of a colony signing a contract to allow tiny broadcast cameras to follow anyone for broadcast back to earth as entertainment. This is a major issue throughout the story.
>Dialog- a necessary part of storytelling and Locke does it well.
Now, for the second book of a trilogy?
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on December 29, 2013
This was a very enjoyable read, managing a good mix of futuristic elements, character exploration and gumshoe detective story. "Mobsters in Spaaaace" is a fairly common trope, and these guys were a little one-dimensional, but fortunately the book deals with them mostly indirectly, so it doesn't mar the reading experience too much. I found Geoff's parents a little too flat and obvious, too.

Without ever crossing the line into full-on transhumanist explorations of the sort Stross, Banks, Vinge, et al, go in for, it nonetheless brings up issues of self-directed genetic modifications and strong AI in interesting and plausible ways, again without derailing the main storyline.

I read this on a lazy Saturday, winding down from the Holiday craziness, and while I didn't quite read it in one sitting, I did manage it in a day. It definitely sucks you into the story quickly.
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on September 10, 2016
Incredible and seems like it's wildly underrated. This is a great, creative, well written story and you will be glad you read it! Great characters, engaging plot, and lots of action.
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on May 9, 2016
Read it!!
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on May 30, 2015
Great Sci fi story. Good characters, quick plot, would read again or buy a sequel.
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on January 31, 2012
The strength of this book lies in the complex details and sociology of the civilization. There are mainstream people and there are subcultures much as exist in the real world. We have Goths, bikers and headbangers. They have Chromes and Mutes - designations related to the number of genetic modifications they have used. This setting was very well done but I had trouble understanding the physical layout of the city. It spun, so there were varying levels of pseudo-gravity due to centripetal acceleration, but just what it looked like or where it was were not clear to me. Then there were the "treeways" I think they were cables that connected various asteroids together - I don't think that is practical unless all are in exactly the some orbit. Another complaint is that during action on a smaller asteroid, which has negligible gravity one of the protagonists is hurt when things fall on him after and explosion. The escape velocity would be a few feet per second. You would have hours to get out from under falling things. Another unnecessary error was the girl shooting the bad guy with a potato gun - it knocks him down, but she seems to feel no recoil. I know, picky, picky, picky. I can't help it - I am a hard science fiction guy.
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on February 20, 2015
It was good fun. But it does feel a bit like young adult fictions at times. And the bad guys are so bad that they do not feel like real people.
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on March 31, 2011
I'm not often one for hard science fiction because ...well partially because my science isn't that strong... but also because so much hard science-fiction focuses on the detail with the result that the scientific explanations and world-building overshadow the story. Too often, a brilliantly imagined world is inhabited by lacklustre protagonists who have low-level conflicts against one-dimensional enemies.

Up Against It is a brilliant counter-example: characterisation and plot shine against a futuristic backdrop beyond my wildest imaginations. It is set in an Phocaea, a low-gee asteroid outpost filled with awesome special effects and deep world-building - all the hallmarks of a real future. The inhabitants are used to this, even if I as a reader wasn't, and tumble through the buildings, grabbing handholds and using their weight in ways that downsiders like us can barely envisage.

I fell in love with Geoff the moment we met him and his friends: a teenager overshadowed by his brother, trying desperately to prove himself to his father and the world. A boy both vulnerable and incorrigible who gets thrown into events and doesn't falter.

Jane is a sympathetic bureaucrat trying to do the best that she can for the asteroid which she calls home, taking tough decisions on a personal and professional level. She has a short temper when it comes to politics and a healthy dislike for the constant broadcast of their colony as Earthside entertainment.

On top of this, the adventure packed plot involving the Martian mafia and you've got a rip-roaring story that had me turning pages deep into the night.

I highly recommend this book.
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on April 5, 2011
I just finished reading "Up Against It" on my Kindle, and didn't know exactly how I'd rate it until the last page. Before going any further, let me say, it's worth the read. The characters are for the most part engaging, and the hard SF setting does the author credit. That being said there are some major drawbacks to this work.

Most glaring amongst these is the use of language. Parts of the book were hard to read because of a mix of Japanese slang, and terms that were never defined. I realize that SF is always going to have some terminology, some slang, and a few made up items, but they need to be explained. I studied Japanese and know what "chinpo" means, but I doubt the average reader will.

The plot is also rather shallow. Yes, there is adventure and a who-done-it, but the story is not well thought out or particularly well written. Think the first two books of the "Sword of Truth" series. I believe this is the first book from this author, and I look forward to leaps and bounds in writing style in the future.

Lastly, I can't stand Jane, one of the two main protagonists. Personal preference, I realize, but she annoyed me throughout.
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on March 23, 2011
Hit all the right notes. The characters were sympathetic, the technology interesting, and the plot compelling. Highly recommended.
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