4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Read, Some Food For Thought
It's not phenomenal, but it's very fast-paced! The short chapters and variety of viewpoints (some a bit surprising!) drive the novel along. It's a page turner, but the ideas are intriguing at times -- kind of Neal Stephenson Lite. The characters are fairly well-created, though a few of the emotional issues are glossed over. And, yes, it does owe a lot to some classic...
Published on 7 Feb 2012 by jtingermany
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Ideas, execution could be better
It's difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it a little so I will try to keep them to a minimum and not reveal some of the bigger twists that come later in the book. The synopsis gives away one of the main twists, but it comes early in the story so it's not too bad. Heaven's Shadow is written by David Goyer and Michael Cassutt who are both well respected TV...
Published on 7 July 2011 by SteveA (UK)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Ideas, execution could be better,
It's difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it a little so I will try to keep them to a minimum and not reveal some of the bigger twists that come later in the book. The synopsis gives away one of the main twists, but it comes early in the story so it's not too bad. Heaven's Shadow is written by David Goyer and Michael Cassutt who are both well respected TV and screenplay writers. Goyer worked on all three Blade movies and the TV series, both Nolan Batman movies and he's also a well known comic book fan who has written for DC. I'm less familiar with Cassutt, but from looking at a list of his work I have probably watched episodes of Eerie, Indiana and The Outer Limits that he penned. So the calibre of the writers is not in question and the idea is the sort of high concept that gets Hollywood folk excited. In fact, the movie rights for this trilogy have already been snapped up and optioned already. With all of that in the back of my mind I was expecting something quite remarkable and for the most part I was let down, not by the ideas, but the execution.
I read an advanced reading copy and this version of the book clocks in at a little over 560 pages, so the final version might change a little. However, I think you could cut 200 or more pages from this book and it would not have affected the story at all. In my opinion it would have made it much better, cleaner and sharper. Most of the time the story reads like a screenplay anyway. The chapters are short and punchy. The dialogue is fragmented and is exactly how people speak in real life. The description is light which helps the plot move along at a good pace. Unfortunately wedged into this exciting and tense plot is a lot of exposition, heavy SF detail and minor plot points and characters that will probably be culled from the screenplay for space and timing. I wish someone had done the same for the novel.
A vast Near Earth Object, or NEO, is on a trajectory that means it will pass through our solar system and it will come close enough for NASA, and a competing international space agency, to each send up a team. These two teams will land on the object, take samples, poke around a bit and then fly back, just as they would do as if they were going to the moon. As you might expect there is a lot of political wrangling and economic issues tied into the cost of sending up a team and what, if any, benefits there would be to such a mission. The really interesting part of the story comes when the object changes direction. This is not something that just appeared at the edge of the solar system one afternoon. It's been on its current trajectory for hundreds of years and suddenly, for no apparent reason when it gets close to Earth, it changes course. This suggests some kind of intelligence at work and I can't really say much more without spoiling it. Dodging around it I can say that the NEO has come to Earth for a reason and some thing has guided it there. The repercussions of that alone are astonishing, frightening and very troubling for some people as its solid proof of alien intelligence of some kind.
At this point I had a lot of questions and I was very keen to keep reading and find out what was going on. Then I hit a few barriers as the story lost momentum and the pace ground to a halt. If you like what some would describe as traditional science fiction, if you enjoy the technical side of `realistic' SF movies like Apollo 13 and you like NASA documentaries, then you will enjoy this. For me there were far too many technical details and I struggled to get through it and find my way back to the story. I was bogged down and bored at times and I found myself skipping whole sections filled with acronyms and unnecessary detail.
The fantastical twists come thick and fast soon after and I did enjoy that part of the story, but it's only about half of the book. The rest builds characters by awkwardly jamming in information, about their relationships and history, and by adding new characters to what was already a fairly large cast. There again, minor spoiler, but by doing so you practically know that some of them are red shirts and it's just not going to end well for them.
I think the movie of this novel will be a really good science fiction blockbuster which will end on one heck of a cliffhanger if it stops at the same place. As a novel it lurches from the exciting and fantastical end of science fiction to, what was for me, less interesting technical information. I'm totally willing to admit other people may not notice or care, and will whip through the whole book in a few hours.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Read, Some Food For Thought,
It's not phenomenal, but it's very fast-paced! The short chapters and variety of viewpoints (some a bit surprising!) drive the novel along. It's a page turner, but the ideas are intriguing at times -- kind of Neal Stephenson Lite. The characters are fairly well-created, though a few of the emotional issues are glossed over. And, yes, it does owe a lot to some classic sci-fi novels, but it does stand on its own.
Beware, though -- it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger leading into a sequel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough,
If you love a space story that has mankind uncovering ancient technology far in advance of our own, then this is going to be a book for you. The concept is stark in its simplicity and to be honest its more about the evolution of mankind's morals than anything else, especially when you realise that in some ways, this ancient space hulk is, in certain respects, a test to see if mankind is worthy.
Add to this some spartanesque prose, a decent pace and a whole host of imaginative scenario's to help the reader imagine the ship in all its Technicolor glory. Whilst this book does have some flaws such as the characters being fairly flat, this does feel fairly movie like in its explanations (which could be because David wrote some crackers such as The Unborn, The Dark Knight etc.) as well as portrayal and as such if you want something that feels part Event Horizon as well as part Solaris, this could well be the book for you.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting sci-fi with mixed results,
From screenwriter, film director and comic-book writer David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Ghost Rider) and television producer, screenwriter and author Michael Cassutt (The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone) comes this sci-fi novel: Heaven's Shadow.
In 2016 amateur astrologers spot an object in the sky, literally over the South Pole. An object one hundred kilometres across and heading towards Earth...As the Near Earth Object (NEO) approaches two manned spaceships operated by NASA and the Russian - Indian - Brazilian Coalition race to be the first to land on the unexplored surface. What both crews eventually encounter on this NEO is a discovery that will change humanity forever.
I am happy to report that this is no inferior `Armageddon' rip-off (which has received much derision over the years anyway). This is a fresh take on space exploration and in particular a space race with a difference. The story is told by moving the action back and forth between Mission Control in Houston and Bangalore respectively and from the perspective of the crews of the two spacecraft.
Interspersed along the way giving events a dramatic immediacy are blogs from observers around the world, quotations and excerpts from press conferences, broadcasts and books. This all has the combined effect of making things feel authentic.
The techno jargon rings true as well making the mission more believable. The novel is also packed with mystery, intrigue, suspense and danger. This is your typical perilous mission into the unknown and it is handled well by Goyer and Cassutt.
I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of a `new space race' and the novel makes space exploration sexy again. Goyer has already sold the rights to Warner Bros to adapt this into a film and it does read like a screenplay at times.
Along with the action there is plenty of caustic dry wit and gallows humour in evidence. It is interesting as well to observe that the astronauts are bound by protocol and have to follow rigid doctrine. It is soon evident that NASA and the Coalition are woefully out of their depth and in unknown territory. With plenty of references to pop culture it's a lot of fun and tailor made for a sophisticated, cynical modern day audience.
It was interesting to read about the two crews with their different cultures, genders, outlooks and backgrounds; these are not your usual male, crew cut all-American stereotypes one would normally encounter in something like this and the novel is all the better for it.
Themes of science and religion are well explored and addressed here and the NEO will more than challenge humanities collective knowledge and beliefs regarding the universe. It is also a clever plot device of having the NEO coming to Earth rather than the usual long space journey to a distant planet.
The Advanced Reading Copy I read weighed in at a hefty 560 plus pages and could do with some trimming and editing here and there. This does get unnecessarily weighed down a little at times by back-story and exposition. That minor quibble aside this is an exceptional sci-fi adventure and it is easy to see why it is the first in a trilogy with a movie deal already in place. I am certain that the Heaven's Series will attract a diverse and an enthralled audience.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good sci-fi romp,
Really liked the family central to the story - the writers did a great job of making an emotional connection with them throughout. Only disappointment was the very open ended ending - thought it could have been wrapped up with just a little more!
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down,
Not your usual sci- fi read. A NEO ( Near Earth Object) is in the sky. What is it and who will be the first space ship to find out? Lots of twists and turns but the ending is a bit of a damp squid - leading to speculation that there will be a sequel.
3.0 out of 5 stars Near Earth Objects with surprises,
So! What do you think the various world-leaders would do if a Near Earth Object (NEO) appeared in the sky? Heaven's Shadow is about that. Not surprisingly, the appearance sparks a contest between the US and the rest of the world to get to the object first. Two space ships are sent to investigate and they discover more than they had bargained for. The NEO turns out to be alien and not necessarily friendly.
Paranoia, curiosity and courage are all displayed along with pretty natural, yet often unwise reactions. Our perspective is from the NASA spaceship's crews - their actions and reactions.
This novel is a fun read. The way people act in it seems pretty realistic. The whole alien NEO thing not so much. But that's what SciFi is, likely and unlikely thoughts about the future. What is likely is that at some point in the future an NEO could come close enough for us to visit. That's what makes it so fun to read. Knowing part of the story could possibly happen given a certain set of circumstances.
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a cracking good read,
I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. It gets a bit far fetched in the second half but just go with it. It's that rare thing, a page turner. I couldn't believe it when I found out its the first in a trilogy and the next one isn't out till July 2013. The authors have created a whole new world with new technology. It was refreshingly different.
2.0 out of 5 stars Shallow, stereotypical story,
After reading the description, I expected a story similar to that of The Eternity Artifact or Eon (S.F. Masterworks). Sadly, that is not the case. The story is shallow, stereotypical and boring. The first half at least; I couldn't make myself to read the rest of it.
Someone with less sci-fi literacy would probably find this book good, or even exceptional. Good for those. Everyone else, please skip this book and read one of those I mention above.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read,
Quite a good, easy read with some different ideas and action moving along swiftly, I will be buying the sequel
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Heaven's Shadow by Michael Cassutt (Hardcover - 5 July 2011)
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