4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Starship
The Forever Watch is a slow burner. It's much harder science fiction than I normally read. I like my speculative fiction to be broad sweeps and grand ideas. Whilst the novel is certainly not short on grand ideas, it also very detail heavy on the technical aspects of its future technology. This stuff often leaves me cold, and there were a few times that I found myself...
Published 2 months ago by Quicksilver
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forever is Today
Great science fiction is made up of many parts, but three things are vital for it to become a classic; world building, story and character. If one of these three elements is slightly below the others, a great novel can be punished. In `The Forever Watch' by Daniel Ramirez we have a fantastic world in the form of the spaceship Noah, a great character in the form of Hana,...
Published 8 months ago by Sam Tyler
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forever is Today,
Great science fiction is made up of many parts, but three things are vital for it to become a classic; world building, story and character. If one of these three elements is slightly below the others, a great novel can be punished. In `The Forever Watch' by Daniel Ramirez we have a fantastic world in the form of the spaceship Noah, a great character in the form of Hana, but does the story quite match up to the rest?
The human race is dying, but before we are wiped out on Earth, we boarded the spaceship The Noah on a 1000 year journey to a new planet. The people on the ship have evolved from what we know today; they have enhanced powers that dictate their role in the society. Hana scored well whilst growing up so has become a manager in the Civil Engineering department, but when she meets Barrens she is plunged into the hidden side of The Noah, gaining glimpses of secrets that no one should see.
I love a good dystopian structure and that is exactly what you get with `Forever Watch', Ramirez has created in The Noah the perfect type of world on which to base a story. Although set hundreds of years in the future on a ship that cannot yet exist, it feels realistic. The politics of the ship are somewhat fascist, but perhaps this is needed to achieve the ultimate goal of creating a new Earth? Hana is also a great character to follow; she is a powerful woman, but still feminine. Some of the scenes between her and Barrens may make your eyes water, but they give a good reason for the characters to work for survival.
The one element that is not quite as strong is the story itself. The blurb will have you thinking this is a murder mystery based in a science fiction universe, but it is more than that - too much more at times. This is a book that opens small and grows, and grows, and grows. The concepts leap from a character study into epic proportions. Although the individual elements of the story work, the journey almost seems too much for one novel. However, what a story and what ideas.
Some of the concepts in `Forever Watch' work the brain, this is one book in which you need to read every sentence. The use of powers such as telekinesis, advanced strength etc. are only the start. Artificial Intelligence, politics, sexual awakenings and many other elements are also explored. This is a mixed bag of a novel that tries to fit it all in at once. The one thread that stays true throughout is Hana and her relationship with The Noah. It is these two elements that make the book a joy to read; witness as Hana evolves so much through the pages.
In a world of prolonged series, I am usually one to call for standalone titles, but in this rare case I would have preferred longer in each element of the book; it feels like it has three distinct sections. To criticise a book for being too good in places that it should have been longer is harsh, but still, the impulse of Ramirez to cram everything into his debut does mean that it feels overly complex at times. Still a very good book for fans of space based science fiction. Reviewed originally for bookbag.com.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars World building and ideas where fantastic, but let down in other areas,
All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new planet aboard one ship, The Noah, which is also carrying a dangerous serial killer...
As a City Planner on the Noah, Hana Dempsey is a gifted psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat and is considered "mission critical." She is non-replaceable, important, essential, but after serving her mandatory Breeding Duty, the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, her life loses purpose as she privately mourns the child she will never be permitted to know.
When Policeman Leonard Barrens enlists her and her hacking skills in the unofficial investigation of his mentor's violent death, Dempsey finds herself increasingly captivated by both the case and Barrens himself. According to Information Security, the missing man has simply "Retired," nothing unusual. Together they follow the trail left by the mutilated remains. Their investigation takes them through lost dataspaces and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a serial killer after all.
What they do with that answer will determine the fate of all humanity in this thrilling page turner.
I had to get the synopsis from GoodReads again because I didn't want to be too spoilery, but at the same time this was nearly a DNF and as it was I stopped paying too much attention, and was skim reading so some of the ending got a bit blurry!
I feel really bad giving this only 2 stars, but I can't lie I found it so hard to get in to, I found myself being slightly bored and skim reading because I couldn't keep reading it properly. My attention kept drifting to other things, and I found it very slow for the majority of the time. I kept reading because the premise had really intrigued me and I was hoping it'd get better once it got in to it's stride ya know, that and I can't leave books unfinished, I seriously can't, hence the skim reading instead of abandoning it, I've yet to actually abandon a book!
The premise for the book was intriguing, the world building was incredible, the detail that went in to it made it so vivid, and all of the inventions and things where kinda awesome, I was loving reading about all the tech and there where multiple times when I was like "man I need that in my life", but that wasn't enough to save the book for me.
It started to pick up a little bit in to the book, a fair few chapters I think, I don't have the exact point because I wasn't reading the kindle version. But then things went downhill again. The book would keep speeding up, things would start happening, you'd finally start to think it was all go, and then it'd really slow down and be back to the slow pace with nothing much happening.
I had quite high expectations for this from what I'd heard about it and the premise and everything, but all the great ideas the author had where kinda overshadowed by the disappointment at everything else. Characters for instance, I really didn't like our main character, Hana, all that much. I couldn't connect with her at all, I found her kind of annoying and she was a little bit cringey at times when talking to or about Leon, so I didn't really have much sympathy for her, nor did I like Leon. She'd just done her breeding duty thingy, and so she was all sad because obviously her child has been taken away, but as soon as Leon reappears, boom, all her woes are gone, she doesn't give the kid a second thought until waaaaaaay later in the book. I didn't believe her relationship with Leon either, like it was a bit coincidental and a bit sudden and as you hadn't seen much of either character together at that point it was a bit strange that they suddenly got it on and very rushed. So the romance was a no for me. Both characters just seemed very 2D, very rigid? If that makes sense? I don't know how to explain it properly.
The plot had a few twists and turns, but there was none of the tension you'd expect from a murder mystery, like I said, the book/plot really couldn't keep me riveted to the page, my attention was wandering all over the place by the smallest things and I was plain bored a few times. I think a large part of this was all of the scientific terms and so on, I don't speak science, I really don't, so I was a bit uuuhh what are you on about? What does that mean? Huh? Maybe someone more intelligent than me, or more scientifically inclined would get on better with this book.
So The Forever Watch wasn't for me, but it could very well be for you, there where a few fantastic moments, including the ending and the revelation about the whole "mincemeat" thing, but I was bored and not riveted at all for the majority of the book, nor did I connect to the characters. I did however love the world building and the ideas that went into the book!
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Starship,
The Forever Watch is a slow burner. It's much harder science fiction than I normally read. I like my speculative fiction to be broad sweeps and grand ideas. Whilst the novel is certainly not short on grand ideas, it also very detail heavy on the technical aspects of its future technology. This stuff often leaves me cold, and there were a few times that I found myself thinking, `yeah, whatever, get on with the story.'
It reminded me of a post by Jo Walton (found online at Tor.com or in her anthology What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading the Classics of Fantasy and SF) on why some people can't read science fiction. If you weren't familiar with decoding this stuff, you'd give up on the Forever Watch before page fifty. From experience, I knew I'd get through it, and I did. Boy, was the pay off worth it!
The novel hinges on applications and implementation of computer code within a complex future world. There are sections that detail this code that I could have read sideways and they wouldn't have meant any less to me. They arrested my interest in the story, pushing me out, back into the real world. For that the book can only ever be a 4* (out of the seemingly obligatory 5) read, but they didn't break the novel completely. I could parse the stuff well enough to glean what was important, and so I was always able to work out what was going on.
This uneven reading aside, the book is excellent. Like many of the best science fiction novels, it has a simple premise; a future earth destroys itself, but before it does the last of humanity blasts into space. The Noah, a generation spacecraft is heading towards `New Canaan' which it will reach in 800 years. What's interesting is what is happening to society on its way.
Set some way into the future, humans and technology have evolved significantly. Sections of society have been specifically genetically engineered to better carry out their jobs, and society is striated according to ability, from lowly maintenance workers to command staff and uber-elite soldiers. Some humans have psionic abilities, such as telekinesis or mind-reading, and the more gifted a person is the higher up the command chain they are. The internet, or something like it, is in continuous use. The net functions using implants in the brain; it's possible to record (and then access) everything that ever happened at any time on the ship. Total surveillance for the good of the many. You can never forget anything because it's always possible to play back what happened. More disturbingly, it's possible to buy other people's memories. If you've had a bad day, you can relax by remembering how it feels to pet a cat you've never owned. Other less savoury memories are available.
This is a novel about secrets. If Asimov invented rules about robots, then Ramirez may become famous for his rules about secrets and secrecy. Whilst his society is apparently open, there are inevitably secrets; some for ill and some for the good of humanity, but which are which? The novel reminded me of Hugh Howey's Wool, though it is a less accessible read. In the Forever Watch, there is a tiered society stuck in a tin can, the can just happens to be hurtling through space. (In truth, Wool took its cue from SF books with sealed spaceships and stuck it in the ground, so this observation is a little back to front.)
As this is a novel about secrets it would be rude to say much more about the plot. There is action, but the books is more a crime investigation feathered with political intrigue. There is layer upon layer of misdirection and misinformation. It's a cliché, but reading the Forever Watch is like reading an onion; yes, it may even make you cry.
Characterisation is strong. An excellent female lead, with strong support from a colourful and varied cast. This is a hard sci-fi, as I said, a little too dense for me sometimes, but very well done. There are lots of interesting questions about society, technology and the use of information. Also the perils of transparency and the border between humanity and machine. The world building is excellent and the plot construction intricate, with each reveal taking the breath away. The denouement is stunning and left me reeling.
The Forever Watch is high calibre storytelling. Due to its heavy technical content, I cannot recommend it unreservedly, but if you are even a semi regular reader of science fiction, I think you'll find much to enjoy. An excellent speculation on the evolution of technology, society and the entire human race.
4.0 out of 5 stars An original direction for a science fiction staple,
The Forever Watch, by David Ramirez, takes a much used science fiction trope and injects it with enough excitement, pathos and originality to produce a thoroughly satisfying read.
The story is set on a massive spaceship called The Noah which is on a thousand year journey to a new planet following the destruction of Earth. The on board society is tightly controlled with hierarchies based on ability. Each citizen is wired into the Nth web, a computer system that monitors and controls all activity. When even thoughts can be read the only chance of privacy is the inability of the controllers to sift through the volume of data available to them.
The protagonist, Hana Dempsey, is a mid level bureaucrat who uncovers a disturbing secret and sets out in search of the truth. As a result, she and her partner become the catalyst for events that threaten the existence of all on board the ship. Is it sometimes better that secrets remain known only to a few?
Having read so many other books that started out with a similar premise I was around a quarter to halfway through before the plot had truly pulled me in. The first section is well enough written and the scene had to be set but I felt it lacked originality. Once it got going though I realised that the author was not going to follow the well worn path I had expected.
There are many books where a few good men overcome an evil administration but this story goes much further looking at reasons, consequences and the knock on effects of a wider dissemination of state secrets. If the price of peace and survival is a lie then should it be told?
The book is tightly written with a complicated plot that moves along at a rollicking pace. The detail is impressive making the technologies seem possible in that environment. Despite the powers that the people have, human nature with its many flaws remains and is explored. The society is satisfyingly diverse. All are expected to know their place and obey the rules or risk Adjustment.
The denouement ties up the many threads and, without descending into saccharin, left me feeling replete. The final line was inspired.
If you enjoy good science fiction then read this book. A slow burning start that could light up the way you think about the structures on which society is built.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Hodder and Stoughton.
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too much.,
This review is from: The Forever Watch (Kindle Edition)
**2.5 - 3 stars**
Oh dear I struggled with this one. The premise is brilliant, the world building is excellent and the first part of the book was really really engaging. Then I found myself bogged down in an awful lot of what I found to be unneccesary technical jargon and rambling prose on the set up of the ship and this and that and I found myself skim reading a fair bit of it to get back to the parts that were fantastic.
I loved the idea of it – and in places, quite a lot of places to be fair, it really was a terrific read. The plot is intriguing – a ship carrying the last of humanity to a new planet, a hidden killer on board and a conspiracy of silence and cover up. I really liked Hannah Dempsey as a character, when we meet her she has just given birth and struggles with the aftermath – On Noah you don’t keep your children, in fact you sleep through the whole nine months and wake up as if it never happened – which set the scene for some great inner turmoil. When she gets caught up in the hunt for a killer, some of the story is mind blowingly addictive.
The problem was every time it got going, it stopped again. More technical stuff, more rambling and whilst I like the idea of being able to visualise the workings and environment when reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, this was all just a bit too much to get my head round and it kept dumping me out of the experience.
Overall I liked it ok, and there was such a lot of promise, but because I felt it never really got going I was kind of put out by the whole thing. I did struggle to finish it (although I’m glad I did, the end part was really really good again) and I think David Ramirez is a terrific writer, but I DO feel it could have been a lot more accessible. That of course is subjective – if you have a techie brain and like Scifi/Fantasy you will ADORE this because it has the best of both worlds. For me though, it was a bit over egged.
Happy Reading Folks!
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good book, well worth a read even if you aren't a sci fi fan,
The city-sized spaceship Noah is carrying the last humans away from the destroyed Earth to paradise. Planning officer Hana discovers a murder, something which shouldn't be possible to conceal and embarks on uncovering a conspiracy which will rock the Noah to it's foundations.
This is Big Brother meets Deep Space 9 (with a little Columbo mixed in). I loved this story, it was easy to read and the plot line was so full of twists and turns I didn't have time to guess at what would happen next. The characters were slow growers on me, they seemed a little stereotyped at the beginning but they matured throughout the book and by the end I loved them.
I really enjoy stories which make you think about philosophy and ethics, if a horrible secret did exist which would destroy the mission, is it better to reveal it or bury it? Does that happen in real-life? Do people get murdered for the greater good outside TV and films? I have no idea, I'd like to think not. I'd like to think that we live in a society where politicians and rulers were open and honest, who worked for the people and let us make choices with the full facts. But that's probably not true.
I loved the ending, such a lovely idea. I won't say more than that as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Suffice to say, I highly recommend this book even if you don't read sci-fi (just skim over the complicated computer stuff, you don't need to understand it too much).
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
A very good book! David, please write another one.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.,
*I received a copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.
The Forever Watch is set on the generational ship "Noah" which is carrying the last surviving humans on a thousand year voyage to "Canaan". People on board the ship have cybernetic implants in their brains which allow them direct access to the futuristic Nth web; their version of the internet. It also enhances their natural abilities turning them into telepaths, healers and almost animal like bruisers.
The main character "Hana" is the administrator of the city planning bureau. We first meet Hana just after she finishes Breeding Duty. A duty every female onboard ship must do; where they are placed in a coma for 9 months while their womb is used to grow a child. Shortly after she is asked by a friend to help on a case he is working on. As they investigate a murder they end up learning more about the ship and its mission than they ever expected to.
I've been trying to get my thoughts together on how I feel about this book and to be honest I can't. This is not a happy book. You definitely wouldn't want to let your kids read it. But it is fantastic. I really don't want to write too much about it because I don't want to give away any spoilers. The closest book I can compare it to is Across The Universe however this book is still nothing like Across The Universe and it is also infinitely better than it too.
There is one slight problem with this book. It is very technical. Technology plays a huge role in this book and with all the talk of compiling code, analysing networks and artificial intelligence you practically need a computer science degree to understand some of the language. But you can tell the author really knows what he is writing about. From knowing that software is not written from scratch and rather is mashed together from pre-written lines of code. To just knowing that software takes longer to test than is takes to be written. Seriously, I spent 3 years doing computing at college and 95% of that time was spend testing my code. The technology was one of the main reasons why I loved this book but I can understand how someone without any knowledge of computers might be confused by it.
Even though I loved this book I didn't give it 5 stars. I noticed a couple of small grammar errors which were slightly annoying. Some parts of the book I found implausible, the sheer size of the ship for example. And like I already mentioned I had a problem with some of the computer language. However overall I really enjoyed this book. It might not be for everyone but I liked it.
Originally posted on bluchickenninja.com
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay but disappointing,
This review is from: The Forever Watch (Kindle Edition)
*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and David B. Ramirez*
Hana Dempsey, a City Planner, lives on the Noah - a huge spaceship that is home to the surviving members of the human race. Hana returns to living her life after nine months unconscious as part of the obligatory Breeding Duty. While mourning the loss of the baby that she will never know, Hana helps her friend Leonard (Leon) Barrens find out what happened to his mentor. Their search will lead to them uncovering dark secrets that will affect everyone on the Noah.
This was an okay read.
I was intrigued by the premise and enjoyed it to start with but then I lost interest. The characters were alright but the plot seemed too drawn out and didn't grip me.
Overall this was an okay read that was slightly disappointing.
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