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I have read many of Mr Forstchen’s books and generally enjoyed them so, when I saw this book, I naturally added it to my wish list and, when I wanted something light to read, I bought it. The book purports to be a novel about the building of a space based platform allowing humans to both inexpensively bring objects into space and to collect unlimited solar power for distribution on earth, both worthy goals, but the story was a considerable disappointment to me.
First of all the book does not feel like a novel, but rather like a sales brochure for a set of ideas. The characters are comic book simple and one dimensional - either completely selfless, generous and kind or selfish, undeserving and evil hearted. It feels as though there are no real people in this book. Second, the situations in the book also do not feel real. While the underlying concept is probably scientifically sound and within reach of people in the next 20 or so years, the idea that a couple of people could produce the core functionality with the funds generated mostly by one individual seems wishful thinking at best and the idea that the hidden “lie” behind the first effort would not raise a legal ruckus and shut down the project just feels unreasonable. But, of course, the investors, all very wealthy people, are all selfless and willing to give and give and give, even when lied to. It is all a very pretty concept, but I would like to know what planet Mr Forstchen thought he was writing about.
There is more. There seems to be very little of the tension that often makes books interesting. There is virtually no question about what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and how it will be resolved. If this book had been included between the covers of a glossy brochure as a sales promotion for the idea of limitless power from solar cells, the elimination of Global Warming and the end of having to boost rockets into orbit I would understand how simplistic it felt. As it is I do not.
Grover Gardner does the narration and I believe it is impossible for him to do anything other than an outstanding job narrating anything, including this book, but I have always felt that his narration is best suited for books involving historic events - The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, The Civil War and so on. Wasting his talent on a book like this felt like having James Earl Jones do the voice-over for a cartoon - just a waste of his time and talent. So, in spite of his wonderful narration I cannot recommend this book.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
This book is NOT anything like one second after so if you are expecting another post-apocalypse novel you'll be disappointed. However the story is still excellent. Lots of really interesting science "faction" more along the lines of Chriton's Jurassic Park, or Timeline.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
Has Pillar to the Sky put you off other books in this genre?
How did the narrator detract from the book?
You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Any additional comments?
I could suspend reality regarding the background and the technology, but when he introduced a black scientist (Franklin) from the ghetto who was richer than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs combined, I could not believe this anymore. Then the main character (Gary) gets diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, I bet Franklin ends up with Gary's wife in the end.
I am writing this before I get to the end because I am enjoying the ride so much, I very much doubt my rating will change but I guess we will just have to wait and see.
In principle the idea seems sound scientifically although I think there would be rather more obstacles in reality but what is really bugging me is the danger of the sharpness of carbon nanotubes. I get that a molecular scale tube would be so thin as to be sharp enough to slice through stuff (though it would have so little mass that this would not be a serious problem unless anchored and pulled tight). What I don't understand is why this is still a problem when woven into a thread 2mm wide, that's rather thicker than my watchstrap which is never in any danger of chopping off my hand. Someone please let me know if I have just misunderstood this (which is a theme used widely in the book).