The Last Astronaut - David Wellington

Phyrebrat

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Hi all,

I'm really fond of SF but find myself rarely picking anything up to read. Recently I was after something that was a little like Event Horizon, or Dead Space, only as literature. I also fancied something towards the harder sci fi end of the spectrum. I had a sneak through Reddit and saw recommendations for this book; various descriptions from genre fans was 'terrifying' and superlatives:


Sounded like exactly what I wanted but very early on I realised two things:

1) It was essentially a tweaked re-write of Rendezvous With Rama (I like ACC).
2) If this was hard sci-fi, it was pretty simple
3) I might be a bit clueless when it comes to SF

This book has had nominations for awards, and was generously cited as a great read. I suppose it might have been had I not already read Rama, but the characterisation was abominable, with conspicuous attempts to make them 'people'. It was written in 3rd Omni so I guess every character having POVs limits the depth you can go with lesser characters, but I was still stunned by the praise this had received.

I wondered if anyone had read it and could comment on whether it is typical of hard sf; whether I should not expect any characterisation in SF novels, or ...?

Thanks
 

Danny McG

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I've got it as an ebook but it hasn't yet risen to the top of my tbr pile.

Now you've gloomed me out on it before I even click it open :censored:
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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Hi all,

I'm really fond of SF but find myself rarely picking anything up to read. Recently I was after something that was a little like Event Horizon, or Dead Space, only as literature. I also fancied something towards the harder sci fi end of the spectrum. I had a sneak through Reddit and saw recommendations for this book; various descriptions from genre fans was 'terrifying' and superlatives:


Sounded like exactly what I wanted but very early on I realised two things:

1) It was essentially a tweaked re-write of Rendezvous With Rama (I like ACC).
2) If this was hard sci-fi, it was pretty simple
3) I might be a bit clueless when it comes to SF

This book has had nominations for awards, and was generously cited as a great read. I suppose it might have been had I not already read Rama, but the characterisation was abominable, with conspicuous attempts to make them 'people'. It was written in 3rd Omni so I guess every character having POVs limits the depth you can go with lesser characters, but I was still stunned by the praise this had received.

I wondered if anyone had read it and could comment on whether it is typical of hard sf; whether I should not expect any characterisation in SF novels, or ...?

Thanks
Actually Ph, I have this book in my 'short list' to read at this very moment. I'll be able to tell you in a couple of weeks ;)
 

Spade

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This isn't typical of modern hard sci-fi and it isn't even a good book in my opinion. It's a mediocre scifi/horror novel. Terrible characters and repetitive, annoying scenes. I will admit that it had some cool scenarios, but I was glad when it was over.
 

Venusian Broon

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Okay.

@Phyrebrat. I have just finished reading this.

I found the characterisation really flaky and random - a bit too try-hard, but ultimately really clumsy in trying to make them all 'deep'. Hence I didn't really believe that these could be real people. Especially in the situation they found themselves in.

I didn't like/get the inserts/interview comments that were all through the book. I shan't spoil with exact details, but...in many cases they instantly deflated the tension...and by the end I couldn't decide if this was some conceit by the book's author (not the real author) to fictionalise the narrative, or the characters actually typed out a log after the events. Both stupid/irritating.

That actual plot came across to me like a made for TV Brendan Fraser action adventure. (It would not surprise me if this is being actively hawked around as a film script).

Too much exposition (oh boy) and telling, and the show was disappointing. Why try and find a delicious turn of phrase to describe something alien and bizarre - nah, let's just call it 'Escher-like'.

The core idea was...okay. There's a bit too many holes in it to be high-grade hard SF.

Is this typical hard SF? I haven't read all hard SF, but there is much better out there. I'm always a sucker for Neal Stephenson, so I'd rate Seveneves way, way above this. Also, I've now read the entire 2020 Arthur C. Clarke short list, of which this was on, and I like all the other ones much better. (My favourite of the bunch is the winner, The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell - even although it has virtually no SF in it. Special mention to The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley, which I would characterise as a modern Forever War.)

I think, don't trust any citations about books, unless they come from a trusted source. (And even then, take it with a pinch of salt - we are all different, darlings.)

On my book rating system, I'd give this Orange. Which converts to a score of 2.8/10
 

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