Max Brooks wrote my two favorite zombie books: The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. He did an amazing job of really thinking through what an actual zombie attack would look like, and how to defend against it. Neither of his books has a central narrative or protagonist, but they were still fascinating.
Six Wakes is a good old-fashioned murder mystery in space that starts with everyone on the ship being murdered. Everyone’s backup clones then wake up to the bloody massacre and have to figure out who killed everybody and why. Any one of them could be the killer, and not even know it. As the clones appear to work together to piece together clues, secrets and ulterior motives slowly come to light.
The Grand Dark’s main draw is its steampunk-inspired world-building, which is excellent. Most of the action takes place in the city of Lower Proszawa, which has just won the Great War. The population celebrates with drugs and nonstop parties as fascism strangles the populace. There are semi-intelligent automata and genetically engineered pets and power plants that spew massive clouds of coal dust.
Dragon’s Egg is a fun, clever look at life evolving on the surface of a neutron star, where one hour of human time is the equivalent of hundreds of years on the alien star.
While the extreme physics of the story may be accurate, Dragon’s Egg contains some of the most stilted dialogue I’ve come across in a long time, especially in the beginning. I found myself thinking that author Robert L. Forward must have talked to a human woman at some point in his life, but if so, that knowledge did not find its way to his book.
However, this is not a story you read for its character development. Dragon’s Egg is all about examining an alien race evolving on a sphere with a gravity of 67 billion Gs, and living at a million times the speed of humans. The story is most believable when it’s dealing with aliens, and it’s still a fun ride.
Recommendation: Get it at the library. Power through the first chapter and you’ll be fine.