Notice...

The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.


***SPOILER ALERT***
Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Final Day: The End Of The One Second After Series Is Great! Many Twists And Turns To Keep A Reader Guessing!

The Final Day: A John Matherson Novel By William Forstchen

Around five years ago, I embarked on a literary journey into the post apocalyptic world of author William Forstchen. I first listened to the audiobook version of his first novel, One Second After, and was enthralled. That book would have stood alone, but then I learned that Forstchen  had published a sequel entitled One Year After, which also mesmerized me when I picked that up. Finally, school is out and I now have time to read and blog and I recently read The Final Day in three days. Again, as with the two previous stories, it grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.

In the previous two books, The United States is hit with an electromagnetic pulse, or an EMP, which is produced when nuclear weapons are detonated. In this story, whomever sent the weapons didn’t intend them to destroy the country, but rather the detonations happen above the atmosphere, so the effect is that the people and the infrastructure are not directly harmed by the blast, but all of the electronics are fried on the inside and devices will no longer function. There are several types of EMP’s that are both manmade and occur naturally, but in the case of this story, it is an attack against the U.S. So what happens when the pulse hits? Cars no longer run, planes no longer fly, communications are knocked out, and people who are dependent on electronic devices, such as pacemakers, just drop dead. In this day when we rely so heavily on electronics, one will find themselves plunged into the dark ages. And so it goes for a small college town near Asheville, North Carolina; the lights go out.

Through the series, the main focus is on retired Colonel, John Matherson, who teaches at Montreat Christian College in Back Mountain, North Carolina. He becomes the de facto leader of the community because of his knowledge, experience, skill, and as a highly respected member of the community. In One Second After, following the EMP attack, the townsfolk are concerned with the immediate needs of the community and how to take care of defending their town from those that would enter and take what little is left. On this score, they do pretty well, but then tragedy strikes as John’s daughter, Jenn, dies needing insulin to live and the supplies are gone. John brings the community together and they do defend the town and manage to subsist, but just barely. One Year After, finds the community a little better off than before, but things are working and the people are hanging together. Thanks to some people that have the knowledge, some electricity is restored along with some communications capabilities. It is learned that an entity calling themselves the legitimate new government of the country will be constripting people from all over the eastern part of the U.S. to serve in an army. When John learns that this army will leave his town completely without protection, he refuses to cooperate. All of the young people of the town are to be taken away, trained as soldiers, and then sent off to try to take back control of some of the major cities that have fallen to chaos. The new government reacts to John’s refusal by sending in a contingent of soldiers under the command of an inept officer to take the young people by force. John and his townsfolk are well trained and manage to repel the attempted takeover and continue to subsist.

The Final Day opens as winter has really set into the mountains and it looks like it is going to be a bad one. Things in Black Mountain are continuing to improve slowly, but everyone seems to be coping. Enough food has been stored to keep everyone fed with just the minimal amount of calories. At least the lights are on and there is some limited communication. It is discovered that some older computer technology was stored in a place that was sufficiently shielded from the EMP. With the help of a couple of tech-savvy townspeople, the old computers are being reworked in an attempt to restore some long-range communication.

Meanwhile, word reaches John that his former commanding officer, General Bob Scales, is trying to contact him. When they finally do get together, John learns that the self-appointed government in Bluemont, Virginia wants him to stand down as leader and turn himself in to stand trial for treason! Scales tells John that if he does not, his community will be obliterated. John considers what he has learned and almost decides to cooperate until he and his pregnant wife are attacked by a small team of commandos sent by the Bluemont government to kill him. In the aftermath of that attack, John confirms that General Scales had nothing to do with the attack and together they discover a horrible truth that will change how the United States will be rebuilt as the future unfolds.

The Final Day begins with what would seem to be a very peaceful scenario but then rapidly ramps up to a fast paced ride that I read during every spare minute I had for three days. The main reason for this is that the characters are written such that one feels that they know them personally. I became invested in John Matherson from the very beginning of the series and have come to admire this fictitious character for many reasons. First, he is a reluctant leader placed in his position because of his Army training and experience. Prior to having the role of community leader thrust on him, he was very happy being retired from the military and teaching history at Montreat College. His leadership style is very much by example and he only becomes assertive when it is absolutely necessary. Mostly, he is very good at inspiring people to take action, even in the face of complete hopelessness. There are also many of the townspeople that appear in the story, some for only brief moments; Forstchen has the ability as a writer to make those people also seem real very quickly. If you read this novel, or the entire series for that matter, make sure you have a box of Kleenex nearby because many characters will be lost as time goes on, and some of them are very good people.

In many ways, this story, and the entire series for that matter, is a lot of fun to read, but is also quite terrifying and thought provoking. Imagine for a minute; it’s a “normal” day, or at least what is normal for you. It is about 4:00 in the afternoon. The sun is shining, birds singing, and you can hear traffic noise coming from the nearby interstate. All of a sudden, everything stops. You check your phone, but there’s nothing there. The lights in your home will not come on, your radio and television don’t work so you can’t even get the news. Out on the interstate, you hear tires screeching and the sound of vehicles crashing for just a bit and then everything goes silent. You talk to others and learn that everyone is experiencing the same thing. You don’t know how long it is going to take for power to be restored. Perhaps you know someone that has a pacemaker and you learn that he has simply dropped dead. Whomever is in charge in your community calls the people together to try to figure out what has gone wrong. Someone suggests an act of terrorism has taken place and it may be a very long time before things are back to normal. Days stretch into weeks, then months. Food and medicine supplies are getting low or have run out, and there are no deliveries to the local grocery store. Small groups of people enter your town looking for handouts of whatever they can get, but there isn’t even enough to take care of your own at this point. Along with the people who are just looking for a little help, there are those that are determined to take what you have and leave you with nothing.

As time goes on, some communication is restored. Most likely it is a ham radio operator that knows enough about electronics to restore one of his radios and listens in to a broadcast from overseas. He learns that the country was hit with an EMP as some minor foreign power detonated three nuclear weapons above the atmosphere. There is not help coming. The major cities, including Washington D.C., stand in ruins as the people there have looted and burned everything that can be found, and they have finally resorted to cannibalism.

Believe it or not, the very scenario that I have outlined is quite possible and given today’s global political climate, might even be probable. There are those that believe that this could happen at any time in the near future and that we, the U.S., are woefully unprepared should some such event take place. Scientists have been warning about the danger that an EMP might cause and nothing has been done to harden our technological infrastructure against EMP attack.

Our planet has experienced the effects of EMP’s in the form of Coronal Mass Ejections from our own sun. As recently as 2003 when there was a series of CME events that knocked out communication. The FAA was offline for about 30 hours due to those events as well as causing damage to several satellites in orbit around the planet. It also resulted in reports of seeing the Northern Lights in regions of the U.S. that normally would not experience this phenomena. A man-made EMP would be far more concentrated and probably far more devastating than one that occurs naturally.

The unfortunate thing is that for every person that warns about the possible dangerous results of an EMP attack, there is another that will deny that there is any danger. Who do we listen to? I should think that it is a pretty good idea to err on the side of caution rather than take a wait-and-see attitude.

Forgive me, I digress. This is, after all, supposed to be a book review, but as I said, The Final Day, as well as its two predecessors are quite disturbing and thought provoking.

Forstchen’s writing is easy to read and the book flows along mainly focusing on the main character, while at the same time, many of the supporting characters in the story are just as compelling as the main role. I found myself having feelings about characters, both positive and negative. At one point in the story, John was convinced that his friend and former commanding officer, General Scales was responsible for the attempt on his and his wife’s life. Not only was Matherson angry, I found myself highly suspicious and angry at Scales. Further, I was happy to learn that Scales was not one of the bad guys after all.

The author is also a master at showing the reader what the story is rather than telling a story. It would not surprise me in the slightest to learn that the John Matherson novels are under consideration for a future movie or television series. Forstchen paints pictures with his words that are vivid and makes his characters come to life.

I highly recommend reading the entire series including One Second After, One Year After, and The Final Day. These three stories meld into one complete epic that is well worth the time no matter what side of the issue one is on. It is just a great saga, especially for fans of post-apocalyptic speculative fiction.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Edited by Benjamin Arrowood

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Terraforming Mars - A Tabletop Game That Is Stimulating And Fun!

Terraforming Mars

I wasn’t in the market for a new board game when I learned about Terraforming Mars from an ad on Facebook, but the title got my attention. My curiosity led me to look up a video on YouTube about the game and I decided to get it. Fortunately, the local game store had a copy on the shelf. I almost passed on the game when I saw the price was $70, but I bit the bullet and bought it anyway. Since then, I have played the game numerous times and am enjoying it more each time I can get a game in.

Terraforming Mars is a tabletop board game in which the goal is to make the Red Planet habitable to human life. The concept is that Earth has become so overpopulated that resources are running out. Humans are moving out into the solar system to find and adapt new places to live. Mars is one possible candidate planet for this purpose, but there are many obstacles to overcome as one might imagine. First, Mars is very cold and inhospitable to human life. As far as we know, there is no life on Mars, and evidence that there once may have been, liquid water on the planet. Lastly, there is no oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. So therefore, the object of the game is to raise the temperature (to a maximum of +8°c, or 46°F), the atmospheric oxygen content (up to 14%), and surface water to levels that would make the planet marginally habitable. To win the game, one amasses the most points in the form of a “Terraformer Rating.” The game accommodates from one to five players.

Upon opening the box, there doesn’t appear to be much. There is a game board, a lot of cards, numerous markers of various kinds and colors, individual larger cards to keep track of resources, tiles to represent cities, forest, and water, and the instruction book. The box is oversized and there are numerous plastic ziplock bags included to keep everything in order when storing the game.

Along with the  colored player markers with which a player keeps track of various parameters, there are markers that represent currency in the form of Mega Credits, or M€ for short. These consist of large gold, medium sized chrome, and small copper colored cubes that are used to purchase various cards or actions. These are replenished during the game. Other markers keep track of oxygen, temperature and what generation the game is in as time goes on.

There are three different kinds of action cards involved in the game which include event cards that when played, cause something to happen such as the landing of an asteroid, which will cause the temperature to rise on the planet. There are effect/action cards that allow a player to gain benefits when certain conditions are met. Finally there are the automated cards that can also provide benefits. The cards cost various amounts of M€ to play depending on how a player benefits from using them, so the more benefit, the more the expense.

Each player also receives a player board to keep track of their resources as the game goes. There are also corporate cards that give a player their starting M€ amounts and corporate cards that are strictly for beginning players which are not to be used by more experienced players.

The game is played in four phases. Phase one is the player order phase in which a marker is placed before the first player. That person will be the first to play during the action phase. Second is the research phase, in which all players are dealt four cards and they choose which ones they want to play. In the action phase, players take turns playing cards or performing actions until they are no longer able to do so, or until they so choose not to perform actions. When all the players in the game have passed, players enter the production phase in which they collect their earned M€ to begin the next generation.

In my experience playing Terraforming Mars, it is almost intimidating at how complex the game can seem to someone who is just beginning to learn. There is a steep learning curve to this game, but once one begins to understand how it works, it is a really very simple game.  There are a lot of small details to be learned in how to use the cards properly, but again, once a person has a grasp of the game, it gets simpler and one can concentrate more on their strategy as opposed to the rules. If one is considering getting Terraforming Mars, I recommend watching some of the videos available on YouTube that will help flatten some of the learning curve involved. I found five that were particularly helpful, all recorded by Michael on his YouTube channel, “Toucan Play That Game.” Click HERE to access all five of the videos including an unboxing of the game, a game overview, two of the game being played, and finally Michael’s review of Terraforming Mars.

What I like about Terraforming Mars:

According to the box, it should take between 90 minutes to two-hours to get through a game. I have yet to play a game that has lasted less than three hours. As a matter of fact, Chrissy and I recently played a game that was just short of four hours long. So, as one can see, it takes both a time commitment and a lot of patience to play, especially when one is a beginner. This is a great game when the weather is bad, or if one just wants to spend some time with friends or family. There is a mild sense of intensity to this game and while it may seem that it would take a long time to get through, the hours seem to pass rather quickly. I would imagine that more experienced players can cut down on the time factor.

The other reason that this game appeals to me is that once the basic gameplay is understood, a player can really ramp up the strategy that can be involved with scoring the most points. Many of the cards involved in the game work well with other cards, and figuring out what those combinations are is a challenge. As an educator, I love the way this game tends to exercise a player’s abstract thinking skills. Along with card combinations, there are ways to lay the tiles on the board that will also net one points, or cost points to one's opponent. This aspect of the game is not obvious and requires a player to have imagination and to think ahead. So while one is having fun playing the game, one is also getting some brain exercise.

The downside of Terraforming Mars:

What I disliked about the game has nothing to do with the gameplay as much as it is with the packaging of the product. When one open the box, there are a lot of pieces that have to be stored and there is no way to organize those components. It takes a long time to set up the game and the table becomes quite cluttered with parts. It is also quite inconvenient when something is out of the reach of players at different ends of the table. The game comes with several small zip-lock bags to store the components in along with the game board, instructions, cards, and a set of larger cards to keep track of resource. One problem is that if someone accidentally bumps their own or another’s resource card, the markers on those cards can go careening everywhere. It would be virtually impossible for a player to remember where their markers would actually go if they become misplaced. Fortunately, if one is willing to invest more money in the game, there is a solution.

While searching for videos to learn to play Terraforming Mars, I found that there are also several sets of accessories that one might use to solve the problems. The one I purchased is a complete Terraforming Mars organization system that has many advantages. The Terraforming Mars Organizer from The Broken Token company includes a set of twelve trays that organize all of the game components. What’s more, the twelve trays fit perfectly in the Terraforming Mars box. It is a bit pricey at $50 (when ordered directly from the maker, otherwise, the price varies), but well worth the money if one plays the game with any frequency. When the organizer arrives, it comes in a box with several laser cut wood sheets and an instruction sheet. There are also videos available that show step-by-step how to build the various pieces and how they are placed in the Terraforming Mars box.  I built my kit using the videos. It took me about three hours to assemble the kit using wood glue and a small lightweight hammer to make sure all the pieces fi


In my humble opinion, this organizer is great because it allows for really fast setup of the game. It also keeps everything organized and makes it convenient for players at both ends of the table to reach markers quickly. It also eliminates the possibility of ruining a game by accidentally bumping and misplacing markers on the resource card. There are other organizers and accessories to go with Terraforming Mars available for less, but I like the complete organizer from Broken Token.

This Just In!

I have recently learned that there are expansions to Terraforming Mars. One is a two-sided alternate playing board that has the opposite side of the planet from the one on the original board and another view of mars looking north from the south polar region. These two new game boards offer a few twists from the original, but pretty much the same game. Also available is a variant entitled “Terraforming Mars: Venus Next.” According to what I have learned, it is a companion that is designed to play along with the original set. If that isn’t enough, there will be another expansion called “Prelude” that is also designed to be played along with Terraforming Mars. I think all of the expansions are affordable and I will be ordering them soon.


In any case, whether one chooses to get accessories or not, Terraforming Mars is a fun game that will make one think and is also fun at the same time. Despite a bit of a learning curve to play, I have had many hours of entertainment and fun from this game.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Edited by Benjamin Arrowood

Monday, April 23, 2018

Priest by Matthew Colville - A Gift From A Friend Turns Out To Be A Pretty Good Story!

Priest by Matthew Colville

I am not a fan of the fantasy genre, but I do read fantasy books because, as a member of the regular cast of the Orbital Sword podcast, I am often (almost too often) required to delve into fantasy for the sake of the show. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate what I have read for the show, most of it has been quite good and I am grateful to my co-hosts, David and Scott, for opening up a new type of reading adventure to me.

I think that one of the reasons that I don’t appreciate fantasy as much as some of my friends do is that the books seem so damned long. The last fantasy novel I read was a thousand pages! Normally, it doesn’t matter how long a book is, I can relax and enjoy it, but not when I have to have it done for a recording date; not to mention that I have a life that requires me to do a considerable amount of adulting. I realize that the genre requires space for world building and character development because the author is creating something that doesn’t physically exist.

So, I was in the middle of a fantasy book and looking at reading another one for the Orbital Sword when a friend, Patrick Cox, contacted me informing me that he had sent me a gift via Amazon.com, an ebook no less. Patrick asked me if I would read this book and tell him what I thought about it. I have to admit, I hung my head when I realized that Priest was another fantasy book, but when I learned it was only five-hundred pages, I was all the more happy to comply with my friend’s request. So Patrick, this one's for you, and thank you for the book.

Priest by Matthew Colville centers around a character called Heden (pronounced hey-den). The story opens with Heden rescuing a young prostitute from jail, he takes her to his home, an inn that he has stocked for business, but never opens. After he sets the girl up to live in his place, he is sent on a mission to investigate some trouble to the north. There, a group of knights known as the Green Order, have been charged with the task of protecting a forest and a large city from an ever advancing army of monsters bent on taking over the area.

A bishop sends Heden on the mission to learn what has happened to the Green Order as they appear not to be doing what they are charged to do. Heden arrives on the scene and learns that the leader of the Green Order has been murdered and the knights are so full of despair over the loss, they will not act. At the same time, They also will not tell Heden what happened to the leader of the order, and a frustrated Heden finds himself in a race against time to reactivate the knights in time to save the thousands of inhabitants of the city.

I am guessing that this is probably a pretty typical trope in fantasy, and it works well here. However, the way that Colville presents the material was very appealing to me. For the most part, the story is written in plain modern language. Only once in a while do characters fall into a more formal language called “knight’s cant” that is laced with thee, thou, and thy. This happens infrequently when the knights are angered or want to get a more grim point across. The book actually reads more like a hardboiled detective murder mystery that, if the protagonist fails his mission, will result in a huge disaster. Along with the detective story, there is quite a bit of veiled humor in the dialog, sometimes so subtle that the reader has to really watch for it. Those aspects, the language used and the unstrained humor, are what spurred me on to read this story. Well, that and the main character, Heden.

While Heden may be presumed to be the priest referred to in the book’s title, he describes himself as an ‘arrogate,’ or one who assumes the power of being something one is not. As far as I could understand, Heden is a defrocked priest, but under the authority of the church, he has the limited authority to assume the title and make judgements as they are assigned to him by a church authority. So under the authority of the bishop, Heden assumes the power of being a priest for the duration of his mission.

Heden lives in a polytheistic society and has talents that are needed by the bishop, whose religious affiliation is not specified. Heden has his own goddess he follows, but she only seems to be there to help him when needed, well at least most of the time. One of the hallmarks of fantasy is the use of magic. While that usually takes many forms, at least in the books I have read, it would seem that the handling of the arts in Priest are also based in the religious aspects of the story. The deity that Heden follows is Cavall, and when Heden needs to use magic, he calls on Cavall in the form of short prayers that make things happen. It is apparent that Cavall has huge power and Heden uses that power only in desperate and seemingly hopeless situations. Heden’s use of Cavall’s powers were, in my mind, a blatant use of the deus ex machina device to rescue the character from impossible situations. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, but with its limited use, it seemed appropriate to the story.

Outside of the use of magic, I liked Heden as a main character. He is a cynical person who does seem to live by some moral code that is his own. For instance, he has no ulterior motive for rescuing the girl at the beginning of the book beyond saving her life. He says that if she were to continue living as she had been, as the favorite of a certain high-ranking patron, she would be dead within a few years when this patron tires of her and wants to move on and choose another favorite.

Another reason I like Heden’s character is that he is absolutely accurately portrayed as the hardboiled detective type. He uses few words but is always thinking, and only we get to know what he thinks and where it leads. Heden and his portrayal nostalgically reminded me of the film noir detectives of years past. He doggedly searches for the answers that he has been sent to discover, but is thwarted at every turn as no one will give an inch. Just as it seems we might discover ‘who done it’, the reader, along with Heden is pushed away. This continues to the end of the story where the plot twist is revealed and the person behind the whodunit is also revealed. I am not going to spoil the book here, but I will say that I had my suspicions about who the antagonist was and was not disappointed in the reveal.

While Priest was a fun book to read, there were a few things that seemed a bit off. There were a few characters that appeared and then disappeared for no apparent reason. Heden would talk with them at some length trying to get answers, but  would get none. Just when it seemed that Heden had kindled a positive relationship with these briefly appearing personas, they would make some flippant remark and depart the scene. While colorful and well written, those characters advance the story. Priest is just the first of a series of novels in this world and perhaps the characters I refer to will appear in the sequels.

Another point of disappointment for me was in the lack of character development in Heden himself. There is very little backstory on him, mostly that he was once a priest and no longer is. Somewhere along the way, he has developed compassion for others and some pretty good investigative skills. He is very stoic for most of the story, but every now and then he has some very bad panic attacks and bouts of anger that might seem like he is suffering from some form of PTSD. Perhaps this is also dealt with in the later books, but for now, while I liked Heden as a character, he did not become one that I found myself investing in or caring about beyond a superficial level.

Never the less, I did enjoy the story and had some fun reading it and would be open to picking up other books in the series sometime in the future. I would recommend this book as gateway into the world of fantasy because of the plain language making it easy to understand, helping the reader to focus on the story.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Edited by Benjamin Arrowood

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Artimis By Andy Weir - Good Fun Story And Fine Second Novel

Artemis by Andy Weir

In 2011, author Andy Weir blasted onto the Sci-Fi scene with his first novel The Martian. Some may say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but as we who read often find, there are authors who seem to have a gift and can crank out one good story after another. Weir would seem to be one of those authors who has found his gift and proves it with his second novel, Artemis.

Artemis is set completely on the Earth’s moon around the year 2080 which has been colonized. The small city known as Artemis is made up of a complex of large dome units that house its residents and provide workspace for numerous craftspeople that work to make a living in the hostile Lunar environment. Artemis is located in the Sea of Tranquility very near the landing site of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission that also affords a fairly active tourist trade. The story centers around a character of somewhat questionable character named Jasmine Bashara who is commonly known as “Jazz” to her friends.

A “porter” by trade, someone who delivers packages to people in the Artemis complex, Jazz also runs a small but mostly harmless smuggling operation. She barely makes enough money to live in Artemis and is under the constant scrutiny of the stations security officer. She has learned how to work the system to her advantage, but also has a reputation for being a bit dishonest and somewhat promiscuous in her personal life. While most serious crimes are punished with deportation to Earth, Rudy, the security chief, handles minor crimes in his own way. While Rudy keeps Jazz under loose scrutiny, he also seems to overlook a lot of Jazz’s petty criminal activity.

For those who have lived their entire life on the Lunar surface, deportation to Earth is the worst possible thing that could happen. Imagine living in an environment that had one-sixth the gravity of what we here on earth live our lives in and then suddenly having to adapt to the full gravity of our panet. So Jazz has managed to avoid doing anything that would sentence her to live the rest of her life as an invalid. That is, until she gets caught up in a plot for a hostile takeover of the Moon’s biggest industry, the mining of aluminum.

Jazz is offered a very large sum of money to perform acts of sabotage against the established company so a new company can take over operations. While she has an idea of how much trouble she will be in if caught, she agrees to take the job. When the company holding the contract sees through Jazz’s very carefully designed plan, she learns that she has gotten in to a situation that is way over her head. What follows are murders and threats to life in Artemis making this story a great sci-fi thriller and a fun read.

For the most part, Artemis does not follow the same formula as the Martian in that this is a thriller involving a lot of people. However, at the same time, There are some similarities in that Jazz is concerned with survival, just as Mark Watney. Once again, as in The Martian, Artemis’ author uses explanations of science that Jazz has access to in her adventure is well within reach of the common reader. Along with that, the main character has a great sense of humor and the same snarky attitude affording the story to inject a little humor into even the most grim situation. Many of the interactions between the characters had me laughing out loud.

Weir seems to enjoy writing about a single character and going well into their development. I found that I did care for Jazz as the book went on, while at the same time not being impressed with her behavior. Let’s face it, she is a criminal and is committing crimes of various levels from very petty to an incredible attempt to sabotage the work of a company that was responsible to providing all of the oxygen to the Artemis community. The characters plan was well thought out by the author, but he left plenty of holes for the antagonists to see through. There is no doubt that Jazz is a very intelligent individual as well as a strong female lead for the book, but she is not all knowing and does make some almost fatal errors. As to the other characters and their development, there isn’t much there, they just seem to be supporting characters that are either there to help or hinder Jazz as she goes about the business she chooses. I would have been interested to see a few of the supporting characters get a little more growth in the story.

The most impressive part of Artemis for me was the elaborate depictions of the environment of the moon, both inside and outside the station. Weir seems to have a huge fascination with surviving in space and explains the construction of the Artemis station domes and the other fixtures with great detail. The author would seem to have gone to great lengths to make the science believable and easy for the common reader to understand. He goes into great detail on the tasks that Jazz does to avoid problems as she moves through the story.

As mentioned earlier, Jazz seems to have a well known reputation around the moonbase of being quite sexually active. Everyone seems to know it and there are numerous references to it; perhaps too many. No matter where she goes, or who she meets she, and the reader, are reminded of this and Jazz seems to not be a bit put out when someone makes reference to it. Funny thing is, during this entire story, Jazz has no intimate contact with anyone and seems to not think about it very much. I found myself wondering why this was part of the story, it had such a large presence and not a lot of substance. It felt to me like it might have been part of an attempt at humor. For me, these parts of the story fell flat and were unnecessary. Fortunately though, it didn’t overshadow the real meat of the plot and I was able to overlook them in retrospect.

The overarching theme of Artemis would seem to be one that is becoming more popular as time goes on; how will those who are outsiders or disadvantaged to be treated in the future? We have seen it in other feature films including The Force Awakens. We have seen it in recent television shows such as The Expanse, Defiance, and even Star Trek: Discovery.  It hasn’t been long since all we had in sci-fi was a more utopian view from shows such as Star Trek in which there is no want and everyone is more interested in bettering the human condition than in obtaining wealth. In Weir’s story, Jazz is a subservient character who is relegated to getting minimal compensation for delivering goods to her betters. Her personal living space is so small that she can barely stand upright and she envies the more affluent tourists and residents that can afford such things as food not grown in vats and a private bathroom. She then learns to live a little better by performing petty acts of smuggling until an ambitious customer dangles a carrot in front of her where she is then all in for some major criminal activity. How will this actually play out in the future? Only time will tell, but I am thinking that the ideal of a Star Trek-like utopian future is not what the future holds. Rather the opposite is what I think, and as it is now, the gap between the haves and the have nots will only become wider. So it is with Jazz; she is not greedy, she just wants something better for herself and finds the only possibility of advancement in illegal activity

While not perfect, I was not in the least disappointed. I did enjoy Artemis and was entertained all during the time I read it. I would recommend it to readers who appreciate good sci-fi with solid science, and a good story, but aren’t too absorbed in well developed characters beyond the star of the show.

[Well, there it is…


[Qapla’!

Edited by Benjamin Arrowood