Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book Review: "Further: Beyond the Threshold" by Chris Roberson

Further: Beyond the Threshold review
Author: Chris Roberson
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free paperback ARC/uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review from the Amazon Vine program.

Synopsis: Captain RJ Stone just awoke from a cryogenic suspension after disappearing twelve thousand years ago on Earth's first unified interstellar space mission. He finds himself in a place known as the Human Entelechy, a myriad of worlds and habitats spread across three thousand light years that is linked by a network of wormholes with Earth at its center. Quickly caught in the middle of politics and intrigue he knows little about, Stone becomes the captain of the FTL Further, the first spacecraft to travel faster than the speed of light. The crew's first mission: investigate a distant pulsar for the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence. What they find, however, may be their undoing.

My Thoughts: From the additional information I have been able to find, this looks like it may be the beginning of a series. If so, I definitely want to keep track of it, because I got a real kick out of this book, which is fun, engaging, and exciting in equal measure – and unremittingly hilarious!

The Anachronists, especially, really amused me – I spent several minutes laughing my head off at the descriptions and actions of the first three Stone met. I wonder if modern SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) recreationists would amuse “authentic” people of the days they strive to emulate in a similar manner?  I was also very interested in the people who recreated Hindu deities and their world, Thousand-petal Lotus. The two who kept worshiping him as Sri Rama made me laugh a lot, too. I wish we had spent more time with these people, but Stone’s discomfort kept him from spending much time around them.

Admittedly this is an ARC and uncorrected proof, so hopefully the author will have noticed and fixed the many spelling and grammar errors, as well as the fact that Stone was using his ear translator with the Anachronists a day before the escort gave it to him. I had contacted the author to ask about this, but as of the posting of my review I had no response; not that I blame him, as I only contacted him a few hours ago. Again, I want to stress that I have an ARC, specifically listed as an uncorrected proof, so likely most of these issues will be cleared up in the final copy of the book.

I was really interested in Roberson’s idea for gender-neutral pronouns, developed for Xerxes: “...ey, em, eir, eirs, and eirself, rather than he, him, his, theirs, and himself.” I had previously be aware of an attempt to use “sie, hir, hirself, and sei” for “he/she, him/her, him/herself, and they”, but that apparently hasn’t taken off, since it was the 1990s when I learned them and hardly anyone I ever mention it to has heard of it. Likewise I was very interested in the attitude toward religion and belief systems that were sprinkled throughout the book. The Iron Mass was a frightening example of what religious dogmatism can turn into if allowed to spread out of control.

Science is not my background, so I can’t really comment on how realistic the scientific aspects of this book are; what I can comment on is how incredibly fun the book is. If you enjoy your science fiction with a human touch, and a lot of humor, do not miss this wonderful new book by Chris Roberson; I highly recommend it!

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