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Sandford does sci-fi. Or, more accurately I think, Sandford does a story and Ctein goes back over all the sentences and replaces "(description of how spaceships manoeuvre)" with an actual description in laborious detail. Although I might be being unfair to JS there. This is the second book recently (after Neal Stephenson's Seveneves) to try to make me care about orbital mechanics; is this a response to humanity's lack of space travel recently? Anyway, the story's pretty compelling, and I very much like the idea of what the Space Thingy turns out to be. However... there's a weird "America! Fuck yeah!" feeling about that. Descending into spoiler territory a little, you've got an American craft and an enemy-du-jour craft (in this book it's the Chinese) racing to get to the Space Thingy. The American President, back on earth, is quite a horrible bastard, but she's well characterised. Anyway, the Yanks beat the Chinese to the thing, and basically stitch them up so the Chinese don't get as much cool stuff. And it feels like we're basically meant to think that that's OK and that the Chinese are bloodthirsty pirates for being annoyed about this. And I can't help but think, blimey, if it had been the other way around, would the story have taken the same view? Still, the Space Thingy anticipated this fairly well, which is good. All in all, a good Sandford book, even if your eyes glaze over a bit at all the parts explaining about deceleration curves in the sun's gravity field and whatnot; the mix of Sandford excellence plus Ctein accuracy probably does help, here.
Books I acquired (and have reviewed) in 2018
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