Monthly Archives: August 2012

Review: From the earth to the moon (Jules Verne)

From the Earth to the Moon and 'Round the Moon


This is pure fun from start to finish, and doesn’t take itself too seriously at any point. A gun club in the USA, disheartened by peace breaking out and not having anyone to shoot at, decides to build an enormous cannon to fire at the moon.

Amazingly, despite this being written around 1865, the science is pretty spot on; Verne describes the harshness of space and the mechanics of travelling to the moon pretty accurately, even down to things alongside the capsule travelling on the same orbit. He even sites the cannon in Florida.

In places, it’s almost a prototype for Apollo 13; the voyage runs into similiar problems, and there are questions about whether there will be enough air to return when they get pushed off course and can only orbit the moon. Even at one point, firing the ‘engine’ that was to have landed them on the moon to return them to earth.

There are scientific errors, of course, some of them unforgivable – at two points, the characters open a window on their capsule! And there’s no mention of weightlessness, despite Verne commenting on how everything around them is travelling at the same velocity.

But overall, a fantastic romp into a Victorian idea of outer space. Loved it.



Review: Hope’s Daughter (Melanie Cusick-Jones) * Spoilers*

Cassie and the remains of humanity live on an immense space station, taken from earth when environmental disaster wipes out the population.

At least that what she’s always been told…with the help of her friend (and then boyfriend) Balik, Cassie explores the dark secret behind Space Station Hope, a revelation that eventually leads to her fleeing for her life.

Although the book was a little slow to get started, I didn’t feel like I wanted to put it down at any point. Mel C-J created a believable world, and a mystery which kept me guessing right up to the last chapters.

Some theories I was flicking through as I was reading included Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green…Was it even a space station, I wondered? All of these theories were way off the mark, and close to the end, I wondered if Cassie’s parents were androids, and all of what was happening was benign. Wrong again!

The idea of a space station run by aliens so they can harvest human DNA was done with subtle hints and misdirection. At no point did I guess that was what was happening on the station.

In some places, the editing was a little rushed, and because of that, some of the nice ideas in the book slipped past me. I was too busy trying to figure out the sentence to concentrate on the story. Mel C-J did seem to need more commas so I could get a sense of what’s going on.

That was particularly bad near the end of the book, when Cassie’s father showed up. I think the scenes with him could have been cleaned up quite a bit, and the pacing slowed a little so I could absorb what was going on. I also think a bit more world building to establish the scale of the space station would have helped, and I would have liked to have seen more of the guts of the place, as it were.

I liked all the characters in the book, even breathless Ami and Olivia, who shows her humanity later in the book despite her superficial appearance and personality. Everyone was well rounded and nicely developed. I even felt empathy for the aliens, forced to harvest humans to survive.

In the end, I’d give it 4/5, mainly dropping the star for the grammar errors that needed fixing. But I’m hooked enough to start looking for the sequel!