Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks


Okay. This is a sci-fi epic from the late, great Ian M. Banks who brought us the outstanding Culture series. This isn’t one of those, but the style is not all that dissimilar.

Against a Dark Background

Against a Dark Background tells the story of Lady Sharrow: ex-soldier, and current aristocratic who’s fallen on hard times. To make matters worse, a fanatical religious order has put a bounty on her head. To escape the bounty, Sharrow embarks to n a planetary-spanning quest to find an incredibly strange and destructive artefact know as the Lazy Gun.

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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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