If I’m honest, this is what I want to see in an action movie released during a pandemic: hideous man-eating extraterrestrials, gunfire, explosions, a plot with holes so big you can drive trucks through … and Chris Pratt.
The premise is somewhat familiar, though it does take it in a slightly unexpected direction: present-day humans are recruited and transported (in bigly numbers) to fight a war some thirty years into the future. Service is compulsory, but all they have to do is fight and survive for seven days, then they’re done and beamed back home. For the folk who’d never seen combat before, seven days didn’t sound like the end of the world … until they saw what they were up against. If you’re a fan of Independence Day then this’ll be right up your street: great adult-ish entertainment that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This one belongs firmly in the category of accessible Science-Fiction: not too much science, but plenty of well-assembled fiction.
Set in the not-t00-distant future, We Are Satellites follows the life of modern family: two professional moms, a son and daughter as they navigate growing up and growing old in a future where people can buy brain implants to boost their ability to focus and multitask. It comes as no surprise that society then finds yet another arbitrary line along which to divide itself: the elite, ambitious, successful people who have the implants – and everyone else.
I say the book is accessible, because it’s not hard-core speculative fiction; the increasing use and dependence on these implants pretty much floats along in the background. We don’t really get a thorough grounding in how the tech (the implants are called Pilots) actually works. Instead, Pinsker focuses on how the technology strains the relationship between Julie (pilot) and Val (non-pilot) and their kids: David (pilot) and Sophie (who has a medical condition which means she can’t be implanted). This is not an action piece by any means, but the tension is there; well-written family dramas can be just as exciting as any battle-laden space opera. The characters are well-drawn, with plenty of personality quirks to separate them, though I felt that a lot more work went into Sophie as she seems to stand a little taller than the rest. The prose is light, engaging, floating from character to character, chapter by chapter, with insight and humour. The style works well, but it does mean that the book lacks some of the literary flow you see in other novels, but on the other hand, those novels probably wouldn’t make such a great TV series.
Highly recommended if you like your science-fiction a little more human and a little less science-fictiony.