Book Review: The Omega Project by Steve Alten

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Title: The Omega Project
Author: Steve Alten
Published by: Tor/Forge
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction

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The Omega ProjectThe Omega Project
Steve Alten
Forge, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7653-3632-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth’s long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and before they embark Eisenbraun is the odd man out, put into cold sleep against his will….

When Robert wakes, he finds the ship deserted and not functional. He escapes to the surface of an Earth terribly changed. The plan has gone horribly wrong, but as he adapts to a hostile environment, he realizes that there is still a way to accomplish what his mission had set out to achieve. But he also discovers that he faces a new adversary of the most unlikely sort. For now,  his own survival and that of the woman whose love has sustained him in his darkest hours depend on the defeat of a technological colossus partly of his own making. Confronting a foe that knows him almost as well as he knows himself, he faces the prospect of depending on resources that he has reason to believe will be available on one particular night of a full moon, a night foretold by a mysterious unseen ally to be a pivotal moment for the fate of the earth. The game has changed, and Earth’s future depends on him and him alone.

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I’ve been a fan of Steve Alten for a number of years, since I first read MEG, probably in 2005 or so. None of his succeeding books have evoked quite the terror and sheer creepiness that one did but all have had certain qualities that keep me coming back for more and The Omega Project has kept up the tradition.

A few elements of this book bothered me somewhat, especially the lack of worldbuilding regarding the Great Die-off and the quick jump from one story arc to another. In fact, there may be too many ideas so that none seem to be fully explored but I still enjoyed the overall concept. In particular, I’m always won over by man’s insertion into a world so vastly different from ours and Robert’s finding himself on an Earth of the very distant future was quite engaging. However, I have to say the overdone preachiness left me cold and had me skipping pages.

I can’t claim to be a hard-core science fiction reader since I find some of it inaccessible because of an overabundance of scientific fact and/or theory that I don’t want or understand well or because it’s too heavy on the military theme. I like the kind that just offers a cracking good story with well-crafted character and plot development and strong worldbuilding. With some reservations, particularly regarding worldbuilding, moralizing and pacing, The Omega Project misses the mark a bit but is still enjoyable. I’ll be interested in seeing where Mr. Alten turns his attention next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.

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About the Author

Steve AltenSteve Alten earned his Bachelors degree at Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate of Education at Temple University. Struggling to support his family of five, he decided to pen a novel he had been thinking about for years. Working late nights and on weekends, he eventually finished MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror, a thriller about Carcharodon megalodon, the 70-foot prehistoric cousin of the great white shark. MEG went on to become an international best-seller, with movie rights sold. The Mayan Calendar plays a big part in his Domain series — another international best-seller sold in the U.K. as THE MAYAN PROPHECY series. Steve’s other work includes The LOCH — a modern-day thriller about the Loch Ness Monster, The SHELL GAME — about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event, and GRIM REAPER: End of Days — a modern-day Dante’s Inferno which takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan. His best work yet, THE OMEGA PROJECT – was released in August 2013. As an author, Steve has two goals. First, to continue to work hard to become a better storyteller and create exciting page turning thrillers. Second, to remain accessible to his readers. Steve reads and answers all e-mails, uses the names and descriptions of his loyal fans as characters in all his novels, and even hires readers as editors, depending on their particular expertise.

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Book Review: Otherborn by Anna Silver—and a Giveaway

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Otherborn  by Anna Silver 
Series: Otherborn, #1 
Publication: April 4th 2013
by Sapphire Star Publishing 
Genre: YA Dystopian
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OtherbornOtherborn
Anna Silver
Sapphire Star Publishing, April 2013
ISBN 978-1-938404-42-9
Ebook
Also available in trade paperback

From the publisher—

London and her teenage friends live in a reprocessed world.

Confined within Capital City’s concrete walls, London has done the impossible and the illegal. She’s created something New-a song. But her mentor, club owner Pauly, is not impressed. Since the historic Energy Crisis forced everyone behind walls generations ago, the Tycoons have ensured there is truly nothing new allowed under the sun. Pauly warns London to keep her song to herself, if she knows what’s good for her.

What he doesn’t know is that London is keeping an even bigger secret: she dreams. And she’s not alone. London’s band-mates and friends have begun dreaming as well, seeing themselves in “night pictures” as beings from another world. As Otherborn, they must piece together the story of their astral avatars, the Others, in order to save their world from a dreamless, hopeless future.

When Pauly is murdered and an Otherborn goes missing, London realizes someone is hunting them down. Escaping along the Outroads, they brave the deserted Houselands with only their dreams to guide them. Can they find their friend before the assassin finds them? Will being Otherborn save their lives, or destroy them?

At a time when young adult fiction is overrun with dystopian themes that are often only mediocre at best, Otherborn is kind of remarkable, especially for a debut author. I’m a big fan of dystopian works and can say I even enjoy some of the less-than-stellar attempts but this one introduces some really fresh concepts.

Imagine a world in which dreaming is a thing of the past. Actually, you probably wouldn’t be able to imagine it if such a world existed because, after all, imagination and dreams are interwoven with each other, aren’t they? Most people live in poverty, barely managing to survive through whatever means possible while the ruling class thrives, and creating anything new is an invitation to disaster . Then a girl named London and her friends begin to dream and they discover that things are not at all as they seem—or as they’ve been led to believe.

London is a character with many facets, at turns strong and childish, thoughtful and selfish, intelligent and obtuse, driven and obsessed. In other words, she’s a teenager with signs of maturity as well as self-absorption and all of that makes her very appealing but, at the same time, frequently annoying. Other characters did not make much of an impression on me but I didn’t dislike them.

When it comes to worldbuilding, Ms. Silver has some good ideas but we don’t learn enough in this first of a series to become comfortable with the setting and too many variables come into play. I found myself often pulled out of the story while I tried to really understand what was going on and, while that can be a forceful encouragement to keep reading, I actually found it distracting at times. The creation of an imaginary world is, to my way of thinking, critical to the success of any dystopian story and the author that can bring the reader into that world without answering all possible questions is a very talented writer. I don’t want to know everything in the first book of a series but this one left me a little too puzzled.

Otherborn offers a lot of promise and delivers on much of it despite its shortcomings. Anna Silver is an author I’m glad to have “discovered” and I’ll want to hear more from  her, especially about London and her life.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2013.

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for one of 5 ebook copies of Otherborn by Anna Silver,

just check out this Rafflecopter link. This drawing is open internationally.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Anna SilverAnna Silver is an artist and writer living in the greater Houston area with her family, pets, and overactive imagination. Her art, which includes oil paintings, assemblage sculptures, and fairy houses, has been featured in the Houston gallery Las Manos Magicas. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University in Austin. She has written web copy for private clients and freelanced for the Hill Country Current in Texas. Her write-up on a past-life regression experience was chosen to be featured in best-selling author Brian Weiss’ new book. She is a member of the Writer’s League of Texas. OTHERBORN is her first published novel.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.annasilverauthor.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6862122.Anna_Silver
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorannasilver?skip_nax_wizard=true
Twitter: https://twitter.com/saysannasilver

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