Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy, Simon Chun Kwan Chui

Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy, Simon Chun Kwan Chui

Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy

The account of an impossible traveller, his stories spanning impossible distances, Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy is a guidebook to many worlds, a vignette of places that most travellers will never see, including glimpses inside the mysterious stations and cities of the sapient AI. Winding up on Earth, home of mankind, the writer adds some interesting points on evolution, civilisation, and human psychology to wind up his epic journey.

This book is essentially a series of short stories, each featuring the protagonist’s experience on a given world. While the amount of thought and imagination that had been put into each setting blew me away, I found that the structure of the book was a little too true to the theme of a guidebook to make it easy for me to read; each section offered me a perfect point at which to stop and get distracted. That said, I can’t fail to admire the attention to detail and uniqueness of the individual stories, and the finale offered some intriguing food for thought. I can honestly says that this book will be a treat for anyone looking for a non-standard sci-fi read, and a godsend for sci-fi writers in need of something to get them over writers’ block.

The Chronicles of Henry Harper, Jacen Aster

The Chronicles of Henry Harper, Jacen Aster

The Chronicles of Henry Harper

Henry Harper is first and foremost an engineer – as well an adventurer and an unintentional story-teller. From humanity’s first fast-then-light drive, he’s been aboard the ships and behind the scenes (and the floor panels) at any number of the most crucial moments of the history of space exploration. From first contacts with new species to rescued royalty, his life has spanned the galaxy, and his collection of friends in useful places is essentially unmatchable. When he was finally sweet-talked into sharing some of his stories, he wasn’t expecting the level of interest they attracted – or the fan mail.

The Chronicles of Henry Harper offers an unusual structural twist, in that the book is presented as a series of short memoirs presented by Henry Harper, each prefaced with an in-character except. Given that I’m not particularly keen on short stories, and have virtually no sense of humour, I admit that I approached this book with a certain amount of wariness. I’m happy to say that my apprehension was completely misplaced on both counts. The structure was extremely well-handled, and the stories were, in places, laugh-out-loud funny.

Henry makes a great protagonist, and both the crises he faces and the solutions he comes up with are original and imaginative, making the pacing excellent throughout. The wide range of species and cultures the book includes made for a series of great backdrops, although many of the aliens’ reactions were essentially human, which was one of the very few things I found to be a weakness in the book. I felt that given so many species, more use could have been made of the differences between them. This was a fun, funny read, light-hearted and well-written – certainly worth recommending to all the sci-fi fans out there.

Odysseus Bound, Stephen Logsden

Odysseus Bound, Stephen Logsden

Odysseus: Bound

Odysseus: Bound by Stephen Logsden tells the story of the CCEV-3 Odysseus, a first contact ship, designed for stealth and crewed for exploration. Equipped with artificial intelligence and some of the most advanced technology available, Odysseus has encountered nothing beyond bacteria at a hundred uninhabited systems, and frustration has the relations among her crew stretched to breaking point. Initially, system number 144 looks exactly like numbers 1 to 143, at least until the discovery of a huge satellite in an anomalous orbit above the possibly habitable planet. The excitement blows the divisions in the crew into the open, and suddenly the Odysseus is committed to a headlong rush towards the discovery of a lifetime, her power reserves running low and expectations running high. No one could have anticipated what they found.

In Odysseus: Bound, Stephen Logsden creates a richly-textured experience of artificial intelligence and virtual realities, contrasted with the very gritty reality of survival. The depth of technological detail in this book, right down the literal tendencies of AIs, will thrill fans of science-fiction. Lieutenant Barnett Hannum is a strong and credible protagonist, whose lapsed military training allows you to travel along with him as he discovers weaponry that can manufacture its own ammo and evaluate strategy and armour that can integrate with the wearer’s nervous system. His action-packed adventures lead you through despair and triumph on a breath-taking series of discoveries, while the plot poses questions and introduces possibilities that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next installment of the trilogy.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Odysseus: bound cover

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