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What did you love best about Retrograde?
Although there have been several books written about people being trapped on Mars (Andy Weir's 'The Martian' being the most obvious recently), Cawdron has taken a slightly different approach, placing a large contingent of colonists on Mars and then having an incident occur on Earth that means that they are alone as Earth is lost to them. How do they survive without their support? There is then a further story that happens on the Mars colony that creates this amazing book that you just can't stop listening to.
Cawdron has written an amazing book here, going into incredible detail about the Mars Colony, how it would have to be created so that people would actually survive, using actual research (he cities several sources including NASA), to create this story that is incredibly realistic and authentic. As you read this story, you get a real education about what will be required to live on Mars, and how the colony will work, so if you are a Sci-fi fan, this will be a really interesting read, regardless of the absolutely brilliant story that these facts are embedded in.
The story is told from one of the Colonists points of view, Liz, and how after a major incident on Earth cuts off contact from the colony, how this impacts each of the main players. There is a Chinese module, an American Module, a Russian Module and a Eurasian Module that has representatives from several countries including the UK, Japan, Spain and Australia.
This is an in-depth look at survival on Mars, a thriller as several different sub-plots unfold after the events on Earth take place and of course, an exceptional Sci-Fi story.
The best part of this story as is with most of his books, are Cawdron's Characters, who are created with such depth and intelligence, each with their own back story, allowing them to tell this amazing story that you will just be riveted to the moment you start listening.
This is Intelligent Science Fiction at its very best and some of Cawdrons very best work to date.
What other book might you compare Retrograde to and why?
The Martian by Andy Weir is the obvious comparison, but almost in a reverse kind of way.
In the Martian, he has help from Earth, they are all trying to save him, but he is totally alone, whereas in Retrograde, they have plenty of other colonists on Mars, but they are cut off from Earth, they are alone.
Which character – as performed by Sarah Mollo-Christensen – was your favorite?
Sarah did some really wonderful voices. It was interesting in that I felt at times she sounded a little robotic with the main character of Liz, however, when she did the other people, such as Jaiyun, Doi, Harrison, Vlad, Anna, and all those in the Eurasian module, she did such an exceptional job of creating these individual characters. Jaiyun is probably the standout though as far as her character voice though.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Retrograde is easily a book you could listen to in one sitting, and re-listen to again so you can go back and try to pick up where various things have happened the second time around. It is something that you can quite happily re-listen to later on.
Any additional comments?
From the exceptional writing, to the wonderful narration, this should be an easy pick for any Sci-Fi fan who loves an intelligent thriller that you won't be able to stop listening to.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Dreadful. She spoke with a breathy voice the whole time that just didn't match the personality of the main character.
She was absolutely incapable of handling accents. She performed the Chinese characters with an accent that sounded vaguely like a Japanese accent. She also stumbled transitioning between characters.
As for the story itself?
This wasn't just the worst SF book I read this year, it's probably one of the worst SF books I've read in the last five years.
The pacing is horrible. It absolutely has no balance between talking and doing. It takes a full third of the book before anyone gets up and DOES something.
The writing is incredible uneven and poorly measured. There are numerous instances of material that was tonally so different from what was happening that it's clear the material should have been covered earlier. The flashbacks were lengthy and out of place especially as it got into the more tense climax moments.
It's clear the concept is a good one, but the story is absolutely crippled by writing that just screams for better editing and proof reading. I can't even begin to count the number of instances when he would tell rather than show or worse he WOULD show but then tell us what he showed us, which was very bizarre.
Liz also repeats herself like crazy. There are probably a solid 2000 words from this book that could just be deleted because it's nothing more than what Liz has said once before.
A personal pet peeve of mine (so YMMV) is the incessant need to employ catchphrase hot button words from social issues. It comes across as cheap and the gawdy (if words can be such a thing). It's just plain tacky and inauthentic as it deploys social justice hot words. Yuck. I read SF to see society after its current troubles in a more enlightened way. This instead felt like it drags SF down into the dirt of today's problems. No thank you. Ugh.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful