- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765315157
- ISBN-13: 978-0765315151
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,912,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Up Against It Hardcover – March 15, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Compulsively readable and packed with challenging ideas, this hefty debut is set in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroid colony Phoecea survives by using nanotech to process huge chunks of methane ice, until sabotage by the Martian crime syndicate throws everything into jeopardy. Meanwhile, a feral AI is evolving within the colony's computer net, intending to spread throughout the solar system. The humans who have to cope with these threats are competent, endearing, and believably frazzled: Resource Commissioner Jane Navio has to make life and death decisions while watching her public approval rating fluctuate, and teen Geoff Agre and his rocketbike-riding friends make heroic choices while squabbling with their families and each other. Locke has created a believable ecosystem of struggling, competing, sometimes uncomfortably interacting components, where trust is betrayed painfully, but allies appear unexpectedly. Most of all, this smart, satisfying hard SF adventure celebrates human resilience. (Mar.)
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“Rigorous extrapolation with an imaginative flair, characters you can care about, and clean, lean, muscular prose are some of the hallmarks of M. J. Locke, a bright light on the science fiction scene. Fans of hard SF will eat this up and shout for more.”--George R. R. Martin
“Both original--full of smart new ways of looking at science fiction ideas--and old fashioned --full of the kind of whiz-bang action-adventure that made so many of us fall in love with SF in the first place."--Cory Doctorow
“Starts with a bang and only gets more intense in the pages that follow. M.J. Locke fills the novel with the exciting, mindbending combination of action and wild ideas that makes for the best SF."--Jane Lindskold
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Top Customer Reviews
All of that is problematic, without even getting to the worldbuilding problems, like how does a station built out of an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter dependent on ice shipments from the Oort Cloud NOT know its ice shipping schedule years or even decades in advance? How does a world with sapient-level computer monitoring not notice that all the ice has been diverted for the first time in centuries just from the shipping manifests (i.e. long before it becomes a problem).
I finally gave up on this book at the halfway mark. There's a lot to like about the book, but my suspension of disbelief crumbled under continuous assault.
>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?
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.