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on 11 February 2013
This is such a difficult book to review and I had so many highs and lows throughout it I'm not sure where to begin.

A good place might be if any indie published book can show how a professional publisher's editorial eye is an essential ingredient in the production of most books, this is one. It could for a start off do with at least 50 odd pages axed at a stroke and there is one unforgivable sequence of unnecessary repetition that should just not be there. The characters are cardboard cut outs and their dialogue stuck in some 50s jolly hockey-sticks novel, and there is too much wooden technical description. But, having said all that...

...The story is riveting. I nearly gave up early on but got hooked, because the author has created a fascinating world on Zeta Nine and an intriguing tale of initial exploration of a planet strangely empty, but scattered with ruins of a now departed civilisation. As mentioned the dialogue between the two first explorers, Raife and Nancy, is a bit daft at first- they talk all the time like this! Yes they do! Everything is fun and ends in exclamation marks! All the time! And they like to poke each other in the ribs, and they like to make sure they have plenty of snacks, all the time!- but I have to grudgingly admit after a while, I gave in and succumbed to their gentle charms.

And so for much of the book I was hooked. The storyline meanders though and the whole book is really more of an experience than a story, as the couple activate more pioneers [spacecraft set out from Earth for century long journeys with explorer personalities digitised, then put into cloned bodies when they reach the designated destination, quite a neat idea actually] to help them get to grips with their new world. It has to be said though there are some glaring plot glitches along the way and the end just petters out in a very unsatisfying way, but Zeta Nine and it's mysterious former inhabitants managed to pull this reader through the whole book with a fair degree of enjoyment, it has to be said.

I finished though thinking what a wasted opportunity all in all. A wonderful idea and a writer who has some fantastic ideas- the book has clearly been properly edited as well, not a typo in sight- but it really should have been a lot shorter and 'novelised' with a proper plot structure and, perhaps, the introduction of some good old fashioned danger to spice things up [after an initial mishap, our pioneering couple become obsessively risk averse- great approach in real life on a new planet, a bit boring though in a book].

So probably a good read for 77p on Kindle. One last thing though from this moaner- the cover. It is awful. Of all the books that needs a wonderful retro SF cover of two lycra biosuit-clad young people stood on an alien planet outside of a good old fashioned rocket ship, this is it. Not a pile of old rocks...:)
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on 25 September 2010
Raife and Dr Nancy Zing are pioneers. They have been travelling for a hundred and twenty years - or at least their minds have, stored electronically - and their mission is to explore and colonise new territories. When their space ship Explorer 5017 finally goes into orbit, their stored identities are `born' into their new bodies. They are ready to start their mission. With artificial intelligence on board to ensure that they are protected from harm and there's no possibility of bio-hazards outside, what can possibly go wrong?

I bought Passengers to Zeta Nine after reading P J Salisbury's first book, Passengers to Sentience, which I found through a recommendation in Amazon's kindle forum in the US. The dry, witty style I enjoyed so much in the first book is evident again from the first few pages of this one as Raife and Dr Nancy find their way around their new home.

From the detailed descriptions of the world itself - the geography, the technology used to explore it, and how it works - it seems that the author must know the place and be reporting back to us.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
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on 26 May 2011
I bought this book (it is only published in kindle format) after searching Amazon for books with starships and aliens. It is the second in a trilogy but it looked more interesting than the first as I was attracted by the idea of exploring alien worlds.

Concept/World
I loved the concept and the world that Peter Salisbury created. It was engaging and mysterious. I particularly liked the spiders which I thought at first were just ordinary robots but became a lot more interesting as the story progressed. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the geology. I love rocks myself and it's not something which often gets included in descriptions of landscapes.

Story
The plot developed well and kept me interested all the way through. I kept wanting to know what they were going to find next. I would have liked a bit more of a reveal at the end of the story though it certainly made me want to read the next one!

Characters
I liked Raife and Nancy and engaged with them enough to be worried when they were in danger even though I knew they could be "reborn". Other characters were well written and in a couple of cases, convincingly sinister. The only part of the book I didn't like though was when Nancy, who is the leader of the expedition, went off in a sulk and was hiding for several days. Seriously?

Presentation
The front cover is attractive. Internal formatting is good, grammar and spelling are excellent. Personally I do like a new page for a new chapter and I prefer chapter headings to be separate from the text and centred, but that's purely a personal preference.

Overall ****
I enjoyed this book very much and have kept it to read again. I will definitely be buying Passengers to Sentience and the sequel Sentience Revelations when it comes out.
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on 9 March 2011
Whilst Peter Salisbury writes satisfying, convincing and intelligent science fiction, Passengers to Zeta Nine also worked for me as both a very human story of camaraderie and the human spirit and also an intriguing mystery. The dynamic between the two explorers, Nancy and Raife, making planet fall on a seemingly deserted planet was engaging and I cared about what befell them almost from the first page. Following them in their exploration was gripping: who built the settlements they find? Can they decipher the symbols inscribed on buildings? What really happened to the Zetans? - And why do the two companions who join them seem so unlike their normal selves? All my questions were answered by the end of the book but, best of all, I enjoyed the journey.
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on 16 June 2011
A good science fiction novel takes you on a journey to places where you can't possibly go; an incredible science fiction novel shows you how to get there.

Passengers to Zeta Nine by Peter Salisbury is of the latter sort. In this story about future explorers to a distant planet called Zeta Nine, Salisbury uses his scientific background in describing the discovery of a presumably uninhabited planet. His vehicle, aptly named "Explorer", has been sent on a journey of 120 years to explore the distant planet. Interestingly, there are no humans (as we know them) on-board this high tech ship. When Explorer achieves its orbit above Zeta Nine, its computers signal the creation of human pioneers using stored DNA records and mind patterns.

Salisbury uses precise language to describe the various technologies in his novel. At first, the reader will say, "That is just fiction!" But as she reads further, it dawns on her that she had read or heard on the news that the exact process described by Salisbury is currently being developed in some obscure laboratory at some university somewhere. The technology may not be commercially viable or necessarily socially acceptable at this time, but that is a question best left to bioethicists or engineers to argue at some pedantic symposium as they sit on a stage behind a long table, draped with a white cloth.

Although I rave about the technical aspects of this story, the story itself is about two reconstituted adult pioneers' struggle to understand the new world into which they have been reborn. The story has elements of intrigue and conflicting motives. Our pioneers must deal with demands from afar while trying to absorb the tremendous mysteries that confront them on Zeta Nine. What will be their undoing: the unknown but fascinating and dangerous new world, or the Machiavellian plots from the old? This is a quick read and one that leaves the reader wanting to learn more about Raife and Nancy's future adventures on Zeta Nine.
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on 1 February 2012
I really enjoyed this book and started reading it not realising it was the second book of a trilogy, however the book does stand alone from the first book and is a most entertaining read with only minor references to the first story. The story of Raife and Nancy and their exploration of Zeta Nine along with the help of their 'spiders' (I want one!)and the setting up of their community kept me entertained and I hated putting my kindle down. I have looked for the expected third book of the series and I cannot wait for it to be available. If you like a good old-fashioned sci-fi exploration of a new planet with all of its dangers, then this is for you!
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on 20 February 2012
I read this book following my reading of Passengers to Sentience, my first Peter Salisbury book. It is refreshing to find an author, where you must read the next book, and one that you cannot put down until it is finished. The word pictures created in Passengers to Zeta Nine are complete without being boring. You feel as if you are there yourself in these far flung places and situations, which seem very real and plausible. I cannot wait to start the next book by Peter Salisbury, but do not see how he can surpass Passengers to Sentience and Passengers to Zeta nine. (But I hope he can!)
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on 12 April 2013
This is a readable romp, probably best targeted to younger teenagers. Plenty of non-violent activity, some mysteries to be solved. Characterisation is a little thin and I didn't develop any real empathy for the characters.

Few problems with grammar or spelling to get in the way - signals of a mature and competent writer.

Why a teenage audience? I can't imagine anyone who's run any kind of team will find the descriptions of organisation remotely realistic. Stuff that has to happen, like designing and building stuff, happens incredibly quickly and with no problems, but without any kind of test or simulation systems being involved. In the real world, you don't just scale a device up and down linearly, for example, and expect it to work properly. But waiting around to design and build the stuff they need would slow the plot pace.

It's a bit too simplistic for my taste, so I'll probably not become an avid fan of the series. However, I'll keep an eye open for anything else by Peter Salisbury - he's a pretty competent author.

The nitpicking pieces - I don't think these constitute plot spoilers, as they're introduced early in the scene setting chapters, and don't mention what I consider to be key plot elements.

You've flown for 120 years. You're some distance from Earth. By the time your mission reaches a destination, you've received terabytes of data uploads. Why store digitised humans on the ship? Just upload them later. That way you can send an up to date template, rather than use a century old template. No explanation of why we get software updates, but store digitised human freight for a hundred years. This smacks more of adapting an original plot premise and not thinking through the implications of the altered plot.

The starship parks over a spot on the planet. Geosynchronous orbits are a long way out, unless the planet had an odd rotational speed (which would imply strange day lengths, affecting habitability). Wouldn't you park in a low orbit, and then take a shuttle from there? But that'd mean you were in an orbit of probably a few hours - not geostationary. I'm guessing that orbital mechanics are not one of the authors' strong spots!
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on 15 January 2012
Really enjoyed reading my second ever Kindle book!

From the start I was kept interested in what was happening to the storyline, and found myself trying to second guess what was around the corner. On top of that, it is the kind of read that lets you go several chapters in one go, or dip in and out of the story mid0chapter without losing the pace or the plot - that is very hard to achieve in a storyline!

Looking forward to reading some more by this author.
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on 18 January 2012
I found the plot development a little slow and the book finished without some of the major questions being answered.
Some of the grammar in the kindle version was a little bizarre, pointing to the text being generated by voice recognition and not being proof-read by an English speaker (who gave a damn!)and it became irritating at times.
Nvertheless I enjoyed the read and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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