The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J Sawyer is an exciting science novel inspired by true events. The book is sure to keep readers turning pages from the start. The story follows Robert Oppenheimer, the book’s main protagonist who many consider to be the father of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer, a brilliant physicist, is put in charge of America’s project to create the atomic bomb as World War two rages across the globe. In a race against time, the protagonist is forced to work extremely hard as America seeks to outwit its allies and enemies alike in the quest to discover the strongest weapon ever made.
As ideologies collide, Robert is forced to choose between his beliefs and what is right. The story is set across various backgrounds but the main being wartime United States as seen through the eyes of various scientists who were hired by the government to create the greatest weapon known to man. The author expertly uses dialogue to engage his audience in the story creating a truly captivating aura around the book in general. The use of vivid description by the author proved to be a key aspect in promoting the development of the plot and also in engaging the author’s audience. There is good character development in the story as the author describes the protagonist’s emotions and feelings in the most vivid way possible keeping the story interesting from the beginning.
This riveting story tackles various moral issues that face humanity in such a tumultuous time. The author clearly shows the struggles that people in positions of influence and power face in maintaining a picture of perfection and fulfilling expectations placed upon them by society in general. This book really captures the feel of that era, and I enjoyed how emotional this novel is, which I suppose was a surprise to me as I didn’t expect it to be this dramatic.
The story has several bits of foreign language which you may not understand, but certainly lends the book some authenticity. In addition to this, there are several references to poetry which the reader may not know, but is still thought-provoking. Robert J. Sawyer has crafted a master piece of science fiction that presents an alternate history that is absolutely thrilling.
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The Bit Dance follows a teen genius who must outwit an ex-KGB agent who uses a cutting edge toy for nefarious purposes. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I have spent 30 years as an IT professional. That provided the technical facet to the story. The fascination with bees and their built-in intelligence comes from my uncle, Fred Ingram. He kept bees to support his fruit trees. He knew a lot about bees and spent time talking to me about them. That has always been in the back of my mind stewing among my technology-oriented thoughts. It all kind of emerged as a complete stew in this book.
Kayla is a intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided her development?
Thank you for the kind words about Kayla. I lean hard on my characters to drive my stories. They are of utmost importance and their internal drive, motives, and personalities have to take precedence over my own. Sometimes, that ends up in an argument inside my head. It’s one I have to let the character win. Kayla started out in early drafts as a male of the same age. I have two daughters, both older than Kayla. The struggles I have had trying to drive my girls to be the most they can be in a world that isn’t always easy for females while simultaneously being a loving father that allows them to be themselves drove me to change that character to a female. The whole father-daughter challenge is complex and can be even more so if a father is a driven personality and the daughter has skills of her own that may lead her in multiple directions. I think it added a lot to the story.
I enjoyed the technological explanations you provided for the eBots. What kind of research did you undertake for this book to get these as accurate as possible?
I did a lot of reading about the Bees Algorithm to understand how it is being used for real-life applications today. I also had to dig into a lot about how communication technologies like Bluetooth work. Other things like the technology borrowed from robotic vacuum cleaners and file-sharing technology used by social media is pretty easy to research, but it does take time to get it right. I also made sure that the history around the KGB and other Soviet-era topics was right. Koslov’s back-story had to be convincing. The car he drove is real. The explosives he used were thoroughly researched. The history of the KGB and the crumbling of the old Soviet Union is all accurate. The sniper rifle mentioned in the story is real and accurately described as well. When you write stories that might attract sci-fi fans, you have to realize that they are picky people when it comes to realism – or at least the suspension of disbelief.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a young adult-oriented fantasy novel set in 1976. The protagonists are 11-year-olds (a boy and a girl). It centers around the concept of multiple universes and a means to travel between them. It’s slow going because my day job still dominates my life. If I could earn enough from writing to pay the bills, I could change all of that. That story is probably around 40% of the way to first draft. I’m hoping to have it out before the end of this year. The working title is Talisgate. I wrote one book before The Bit Dance. It’s called Motes. It’s a first-contact kind of story with an unusual twist. You can find it on Amazon.
What happens when millions of tiny minds find a way to work together? At what point do they become one? At what point are they no longer merely machinery, but actually alive? Kayla Henry is a genius. She has a grasp of technology that far surpasses that of people three times her tender age of fourteen. She has mastered every skill she has attempted to acquire – except the ability to impress her father and appease his overbearing perfectionism. The eBot is the newest offering from her father’s employer that will set the company’s course for as much as a decade. It is a revolutionary toy endowed with groundbreaking technology and an online community that will encourage consumers to share their experiences. Kayla is fascinated by it and longs to be a part of it in any way she can. When an ex-KGB officer appropriates the technology for his own nefarious purposes, it responds in ways no one could predict – or even imagine.
Save Him by William M. Hayes is a time travel story about a scientist named Rydel Scott who works at the Genesis Lab in upstate New York creating new technology for the military. After he stumbles across a way to travel back in time, his terminally ill sister convinces him that he must use this discovery to prevent Jesus’s death on the cross. The Unit, an elite military group led by Ray Catlin, is sent to stop him before it’s too late and bring him back. But once on the mission, the Unit becomes divided. Will Rydel succeed in changing the past and saving Jesus Christ? And if he does, will the people in the present survive the repercussions?
I enjoyed reading this book. The story line was intriguing, and it was a unique take on a time travel action adventure story. I liked the descriptions of Jerusalem during the life of Jesus. It gave me a good sense of what it might have been like to live during that time period.
The technology described in the book was interesting. The story started out a bit slow, taking place in the Genesis Lab with a show and tell of the new tech rather than with action as the Unit is sent out on their mission. However, this did give me a chance to get to know the various members of the Unit, who might have been hard to keep straight otherwise, since there were so many of them.
The group became divided about the mission once they arrived in the past, which was something that didn’t sit well with me, since the Christian believers’ position did not seem logical. One of the foundations of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins so that our souls would be saved, yet the Christian characters don’t act as though that sacrifice was necessary when it should have been a fundamental belief. I thought it was odd for them to think that saving Jesus would have no effect on the present when Christianity as they know it would cease to exist if Jesus did not die on the cross.
This was an intriguing book with an interesting plot, but I felt the book lacked a conclusive ending. If you enjoy science fiction stories with futuristic, yet believable, technology in a historic setting then this book is definitely for you.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B07WQMP41B
The main character, Nash Bannon, is hopelessly interesting and charming from the very first chapter. We learn so much about his past, his family life, siblings, and upbringing that by chapter two you are utterly fascinated and rooting for him no matter what. His love interest, Cariana Foster, is equally enchanting and the dialogue between these characters is so raw that you can’t help but fall in love with them. There is a huge elephant in the room regarding their relationship, but I don’t want to give away any big spoilers so let’s just say that it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The idea of the Lifeliners; human beings that have evolved into some other state of existence not yet fully understood, is absolutely engaging. The way the author writes about the political atmosphere of the world surrounding these super-humans is realistic and you can feel the pain of their humanity (or non-humanity?) and the fear elicited from them by the rest of society.
The politics in this book is one of my favorite aspects. Because of how realistically the author conveys these ideas you feel like you’ve been transported into Nash’s world. Even though the idea of co-existing with humans who have super-natural abilities is un-realistic and physically unrelatable, the dialogue and world view portrayed in the book is so natural and believable that you feel like you are really dealing with the emotions of the characters on every page. The relationship between Nash and the homeless child Aleya (a lifeliner) is touching and tragic at the same time. To think of a world that can cast aside children like garbage just because they have different abilities is really upsetting to think about.
I also enjoyed the scientific aspects of the story. Literally no detail is left out when it comes to the genetic anomalies of the Lifeliners and Cariana’s work as a geneticist is fascinating. While liberties were obviously taken (as this is a fictional story), this aspect of the book is also frighteningly realistic. I felt as if this evolution within the human species could actually happen and that these types of moral dilemmas might really someday face the human race.
Overall, I would recommend this book, it was a page turner from start to finish. There aren’t many books that I can see myself reading multiple times, but Lifeliners is definitely one of them.
Pages: 431 | ASIN: B07GN8QV83
Posted in Book Reviews
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Greg Spry’s Beyond the Horizon is the second in his Beyond series. The focus of the plot is split equally between Maya Davis’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore interstellar space over a period of three years and her aunt Brooke Davis-Sommerfield’s inner turmoil regarding a past she would rather forget. Maya, an extraordinary student in her own right, has just graduated second in the Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy class of 2265 and is one of the fortunate citizens boarding New Horizons. Maya’s fate as an integral part of the success of the mission of New Horizons, strangely enough, seems dependent upon the decisions of Brooke as she battles the Vril in Maya’s absence.
Greg Spry has created some truly memorable characters within a phenomenal setting years in the future. One of the most striking aspects of Spry’s work is the effort he has put into describing the technological advancements he envisions. The ease and speed with which travel takes place and the vessels used are quite amazing. The author’s descriptions are more than adequate to effectively draw in the reader. In fact, I became more than fascinated with the many uses of the “i-cite,” a device which takes the capabilities of a smartphone and magnifies it by thousands.
Spry has outfitted his group of futuristic characters with the means to alter themselves in an instant. Perhaps one of my favorite scenes involved Brooke avoiding discovery by spontaneously changing both the length and color of her hair while she walks amid passengers on a ship. This, one of many other details, set Spry’s work apart from the science fiction tales I have read recently. The ability to instantaneously alter one’s appearance takes the story to another level within its genre.
In addition to the incredible devices used and the modes of travel detailed by Spry, I was enthralled by the description of New Horizons, an entire community created for a three year space journey. Self-sufficient and immense in size, the vessel was almost too imposing to comprehend. Spry breaks barriers within science fiction with settings filled with incredible planets, ships, and astonishingly advanced day-to-day living.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither Maya nor Brooke were standout characters for me. Both women are strong, determined, and remarkably intelligent. Their struggles are typical for books steeped in action and suspense. I felt Brooke revealed much more of the struggle within herself than Maya, though both were faced with demons–real and imagined. Brooke has taken the trauma of Maya’s youth on herself, and it is evident throughout her plotline. My chosen character–the one I looked forward to within each section dedicated to Brooke–is Zeke. His combination of innocence and the ability to manipulate thoughts was intriguing. The explanation for Zeke’s fast-paced growth fits well with the plot and the fear surrounding his abilities.
Greg Spry draws out a complicated plot and satisfies readers of all types with relatable characters, amazing images of the future, and action sequences which are spaced effectively throughout the book. I recommend Beyond the Horizon to fans of the science fiction genre and anyone seeking to explore the genre. Spry is an author who, without a doubt, delivers a punch.
Pages: 366 | ASIN: B01BBIA9DC
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