Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter

Well, it’s taken a while, but I’ve finished the Noumenon Trilogy, and it really has been an epic journey (for me, as well as the writer).

The story of the explorers continues where Noumenon Infinity left us: the explorers and their sentient computer have settled on Noumenon, where they discover an entirely new native species has begun to evolve. Together, they continue the work of the original designers of the alien megastructures, even if they’re not entirely sure the effect they will have on the galaxy when they’re switched on.

Noumenon Ultra
Noumenon Ultra

As it turns out, the true purpose of the megastructure machine is bigger than any of them imagined, and will, eventually, lead mankind to its ultimate exploration mission.

And that’s all I’m going to say; anything more would spoil it for you.

What I will say is this: Noumenon Ultra is the most complicated book in the deepest, most highly structured trilogy I’ve ever read. Now that I’ve reached the end, I can look back and really appreciate what Lostetter has crafted here: the sense of place; the depth of characterisation; the sheer number of characters and the time and care allotted to each of them.

And yes, there were places where I got lost in the prose – though this was probably due to my lack of attention rather than any shortcomings in the writing.

But the ending! Good grief, the ending …! Perfect! Stunning! Literally, brought a tear to the eye.

I get that with all the distractions we’re facing these days, folk feel they don’t have the time to invest in a good science-fiction epic. Well … invest in this one – but don’t attempt to read all three back to back; allow time for your brain to cool down between each book.

Verdict: Epic!

The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow

This was very strange book. I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which I enjoyed a lot, and I expected that the Lost Cause would follow in a similar vein: a story of future society which is striving to better itself. … Sounds nice. But as we quickly find out in The Lost Cause, not everyone shares the same idea as to what constitutes better.

In a fairly non-specific future, and following the death of his parents in a Canadian epedemic, Brooks Palazzo is shippped down to Burbank to be raised (if you can call it that) by his MAGA-fanatical grandfather. While Brooks is growing up, America is changing; government policy is driven by the burgeoning refugee crisis (parts of the United States are submerged underwater), food shortages and climate change. The world is making progress to stopping it from getting worse, though it’s probably too late to dial it back to any significant degree. Still, Brooks is part of a new generation that doesn’t fear the future.

And they’ve banned firearms.

As you can imagine, this has not gone down well with everyone, which is why, following the death of his grandfather, Brookes discovers a cache of automatic weapons under the floorboards of his home.

So while Brooks has to navigate his late teens, figuring out where to hide the guns and getting involved with rebuilding the planet, and homes for an influx of refugees, he finds himself at loggerheads with his grandfather’s old MAGA friends, who take great pains to warn him that a reckoning’s a’coming … and he’s standing on the wrong side.

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