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  • Helix
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3.5 out of 5 stars25
3.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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VINE VOICEon 17 March 2008
This was a marvellous read, and as a previous Reviewer has said; this, unlike many other SF and Fantasy novels does not contain the numerous unpronounceable names one usually encounters in this style of writing.

This is simple and easy to follow English - certainly no classic, but written in a simple and understandable way. However, the writing I found became more 'elaborate' as the novel progressed, which as a result became a great story-telling space adventure. This was one of the few SF novels I have managed to read to the end, and without it becoming 'laborious' in places.

Whilst many of the characters' personalities can be viewed as quite 'vague' (and even unmemorable at times) there are a couple of them that stand out, and these develop a marvellous interaction between themselves when a great friendship becomes more vivid, and is struck up between 'Hendry' and 'Kalucheck'.

This is imaginative story-telling that is quite thought-provoking. It is exciting, which creates a certain amount of constant anticipation throughout that is often lacking in many other SF novels I have read. The interaction between the various alien races in particular is described with excellence and with much thought as to how this would appear in reality with great detail. There are also a couple of 'love-making' scenes (an unlikely piece for this type of novel) which is clearly written from the man's point of view only, and with much effort and difficulty, without any real woman's perception of it, and at times, this appeared a little 'clumsy' as a consequence. Only one really gruesome scene throughout which because of its isolation, seemed sorely out of place.

This has been the first SF book I have read in a long time where I was actually anticipating on how it would end, and as a result, I would not hesitate but to read more titles from this author.

Good stuff!
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From the cover blurb and illustration I expected Helix to be fairly hard-core Sci-Fi. That'll teach me to judge a book by its cover!
Helix is set in a future when Earth has all but perished as sea levels rise, droughts devastate dry regions and wars break out all over. A colony space ship leaves the Earth bound for a new system, and that's where the adventure begins.
The action switches between the colonists and the inhabitants of the ice-world which becomes their destination. We meet a bunch of alien characters who are struggling to push back the boundaries of their understanding and the repression of their fundamentalist religious leadership. The wounded space ship comes plunging into this strange world with a society already in conflict...

And if this sounds a bit like an episode of Stargate, then that's what it feels like when you read it, too. It's not helped by the obvious comparison to Larry Niven's Ringworld -- a strange place full of strange aliens described by a brilliant author -- or any of Niven and Pournelle's first contact novels. If you want a really good first-contact, human/alien interaction novel then look at what CJ Cherryh has written. All of the writers I mention here combine plausible science with speculative fantasy. Helix doesn't. It's pretty much a 'what if' romp, populated with predictable, cardboard cut-out characters. And the aliens aren't really very alien... like early Star Trek Klingons, they have the feeling of being men in funny suits!

Still, if you enjoy TV and lightweight sci-fi then this may well suit you.
It didn't, however, inspire me to read anything else by this author and I'll probably bung it in the 'charity shop' box rather than keep it on the shelves for re-reading in future.
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on 17 September 2015
I have read this auther before he is very good
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on 9 August 2007
Helix wasn't the book I was expecting. Not enough adventure and too much time wasted on a pedestrian and predictable first contact with a pre-age of reason alien race. It's all perfectly readable but not exciting enough really. Buy used.
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on 7 November 2012
The overall plot of Helix is interesting enough to keep a SF enthusiast reading however Eric Brown is not a very good writer. The conversation between the characters is not believable and the significant events are too predictable.
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