Fresh sci-fi space race

It is difficult to overestimate the impact that the space race of the two giants – the USA and the USSR – had on the development of science and technology. Rivalry allowed with incredible speed to expand the horizons of what seemed impossible. For some time, the race for supremacy in the field of space exploration seemed to have almost come to naught, but in recent years it has flared up with renewed vigor – with a slightly different composition of participants than in the 20th century. In the new century, world governments are not lagging behind (and sometimes overtaking them) large private business. In addition, China has resolutely burst into the league of major players. Who knows what discoveries and achievements await us in the coming decades in the field of exploration of the solar system?

It may seem that science fiction writers are often not interested in the topic of how exactly humanity will reach the stars. Someone somehow invented a suitable technology – and gloriously, they flew. But there are also authors who build their stories on the foundation of such “races”, which allows them to create very diverse and tense plots.

“We are the Legion. We are Bob Dennis Taylor

The main action of the Dennis Taylor cycle takes place in the future, when our contemporary, Bob, is awakened from eternal sleep. Before his ridiculous and early death, he just managed to conclude an agreement with a cryocompany to save his brain for later “resurrection” when science reaches the required level. But instead, Bob’s mind is digitized, creating a replicant, a human-based AI. After that, Bob will have to go to the stars, controlling a self-replicating probe, in search of habitable planets. That’s just, while still undergoing training, the hero manages to find out that in the developed future, not everything is so smooth. America has become a theocratic power torn apart by internal strife. In addition, aggressive Brazilians and other not-too-friendly states, who hope to be the first in deep space exploration, put spokes in the wheels of Bob’s patrons.

In part, it is this fuss and rivalry of powers that helps the protagonist gain freedom in the future. Almost dying a couple more times, Bob still takes off, but the chaos behind him will one day still require attention. Not to mention the fact that other space probes of this type, controlled by one of those very aggressive Brazilians, will become serious rivals for the hero. And in Taylor’s world, the future of mankind really depends on the consequences of this struggle in space.

Death Orbit Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield, after he retired as an astronaut, made his debut in literature with a book in which he talked about 4,000 hours spent in orbit. With Orbit of Death, he tried his hand at fiction. This is an alternative history novel set in the 1970s. The space race between the US and the Soviet Union is in full swing. America is preparing the Apollo 18 team to be sent to the Moon, but the astronauts received, in addition to scientific, another military assignment. They must destroy the Soviet Almaz spy satellite. But in space, anything can go wrong – this unpredictable and dangerous environment dictates its own rules. Also, don’t underestimate your opponent. During the first part of the mission, an unexpected passenger is on board the Apollo 18, which finally mixes all the cards.

The plot of “Orbit of Death” takes place not only in space (which Hadfield described with rare knowledge of the matter), but also on Earth – among those who follow the flight, give instructions and must adapt to a changing situation, trying to unravel the opponent’s plans. The author has created an atmospheric and unpredictable techno-thriller with a high degree of certainty.

“Delta-V” Daniel Suarez

In Daniel Suarez’s novel Delta-V, corporate competition for supremacy in the space industry comes to the fore. It’s a close-range fantasy where an eccentric billionaire assembles an expedition for the first mining operation in space. The team is waiting for a harsh preparation, and then – a flight to the asteroid, where it is necessary to extract water ice, liquid nitrogen, ammonia, methane and carbonyls of nickel, iron and cobalt. The crew consists of 8 people, each of which has a unique set of skills: the main character, for example, is an outstanding cave diver. As a result, the team looks more like adventurers than a detachment with a serious mission, but do not underestimate them. The heroes signed up for a long-term, high-risk, high-reward flight. Their patron is really confident that this expedition is capable of changing the course of history and the established economy of the Earth. And the activity of its competitors only confirms how high the stakes are.

Daniel Suarez contrasts humanity with cold calculation and admires the strength of the human spirit. It is very difficult, watching his heroes, not to succumb to the impulse and not root for their success. And a nice bonus is that the author with great attention approached not only the adventure, but also the technical and economic side of the story.

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