Titan by Stephen Baxter

This is one of those deep deep science fiction reads; lots of science and engineering concepts that must’ve taken an eon to research and tie together into a story.

Titan tells the tale of the first manned expedition to Titan – one of Saturn’s moons that is believed to be capable of supporting life. (The scientists have evidence that somewhere on the moon, something is breathing.)

Now, this definitely isn’t the same kind of adventure as the galaxy spanning Noumenon Trilogy, where thousands of highly-trained clones set off highly advanced starships, on a journey that will take centuries to complete.

No, this book starts in 2008, and takes a handful of astronauts on a six-year journey to a Titan, travelling on an old shuttle cobbled together from whatever parts NASA has lying around, before the whole Administration is subsumed by the US Department of Agriculture.

Needless to say, no one (least of all, the astronauts) expects the team to return. Indeed, they all signed on knowing that, in all likelihood, the mission is a one-way trip.

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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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