Second Contact by Mike Resnick has a fascinating premise: A space captain on trial for murdering his own crewmen because he believed they were aliens. After that’s set up, the rest of the novel reads more like a contemporary political thriller than science fiction, as Becker, the officer assigned to defend the Captain, runs into dead ends with disappearing witnesses. Pursuing every lead with the help of a computer whiz, Becker incurs the wrath of a conspiracy that seems to involve aliens, like something you’d see on the X-Files or The Invaders. The computer technology described probably seemed futuristic when this was written, but seems ordinary now, though the story is still set about 50 years in the future from now. The suspense kept the pages turning. In the end everything is explained and mostly wrapped up.
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noun: a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against artificial beings; synonyms: robot-hater; AI-hater; android-hater; cyborg-hater
(Coined by Roger Christenson, 29 May 2016.)
City Machine by Louis Trimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The City Machine by Louis Trimble is well-written science fiction, suspenseful, tight, with fairly well-drawn characters and understandable motives. It doesn’t present any brilliant new ideas, but an original plot combining such ideas as multi-generation star ships to colonize planets, protagonists trying to escape a future city (sort of like Logan’s run), a colony comprised of a three-level city, and classes of people corresponding to their level, with rebels in the lower level (slaves, like in Metropolis), plotting a mass escape. The hero may have the key to secrets the rebels need, but while he’s recruited and discovers what it’s like outdoors, his girlfriend is still in the mid level of the city. Suspense and intrigue ensue.
The blurb on the cover makes it sound a little fantastic, but the author thought through the science; it took the colonists generations to arrive and they chose to live exclusively in a city because they had grown so unaccustomed to the dangers of nature. Not exactly an impossible to put down page-turner, it was nevertheless easy and enjoyable to read straight through.
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