reviews

The One: A Cruise Through the Solar System by Eric Klein - Book Review

Write on: Sun, 03 May 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 4623

I've had some input into this novel as an early draft, and I’m glad to see it evolve into a highly-polished book. In short, this is a near-future, solar-system adventure-story in the style of golden-age science fiction. It reminded me very much of the SciFi I grew up on, by such giants as Heinlien, Asimov, and Clarke. The book also gives a gentle nod to them, with many (many!) bits of homage and pop-culture Easter eggs to get any sci-fi nerd squealing with joy.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Expect a review of possibilities in the near future (well, in 150 years) for colonisation of the solar system. Klein does a wonderful job of researching current technologies and extrapolating what conditions would be like. And we’re not taking just dry descriptions of settlement technology, but of the socio-economic implications of it as well.

In a sense this combines the golden-age classic look at predicting the future, but adapting it to what we know the main drivers are today: artificial intelligence, solar system travel and communications options, terraforming and agriculture on distant planets, etc.

A story, however, is more than that. In terms of characters, the story is told through the eyes of BJ Armstrong, the protagonist. An IT nerd specialising in AI, we are treated to his views and commentary on his first trip outside of Earth. There are are sub-plots with intrigue and mystery (accidents, murder attempts, jumpy security guards), but I would say they are not the focus.

Overall, I was engrossed by the story progression. It’s a breath of fresh air to read a story that takes its time rather than constantly hit you with plot twists; written by an author who knows what they’re talking about in terms of cause and effect of technology; set in a world that shows what humanity can rise to rather than the current dystopian craze about what it might sink to; and generally explore what life could realistically look like for our grandchildren on a micro and macro level.

WHAT TO BE AWARE OF

This isn’t a thriller, nor is it a colonisation story. It’s an adventure story with elements of intrigue, as our protagonist cruises across the solar system. This is a quick read (not a novella, just a short novel), that serves a lot of world-building for future stories in the same universe.

Character interactions and themes match those of earlier science fiction works as well (with a good reason). This isn’t your modern angsty, young-adult, touchy-feely characters type of novel, but one for more cerebral inclinations.

FELIX'S REVIEW

Felix had a hard time grasping what was going on with space travel, so I told him just to think of a long sea voyage between strange islands. He was reaffirmed in his view that pirates are a perennial menace, and that one should always be suspect of unexpected gifts - even of the leisurely kind.

SUMMARY

If you’re a sci-fi geek who grew up on the golden age classics, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this novel.

Assaph

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.

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