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Further: Beyond the Threshold
 
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Further: Beyond the Threshold [Kindle Edition]

Chris Roberson

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Review

"I've been reading Chris Roberson for years. But I won't hold it against you if Further: Beyond the Threshold is your first time. Quite the opposite, in fact. Welcome. Enjoy." –New York Times bestselling author John Scalzi

Product Description

Humankind is spread across three thousand light years in a myriad of worlds and habitats known as the Human Entelechy. Linked by a network of wormholes with Earth at its center, it is the world Captain RJ Stone awakens to after a twelve-thousand-year cryogenic suspension.

Stone soon finds himself commanding the maiden voyage of the first spacecraft to break the light speed barrier: the FTL Further. In search of extraterrestrial intelligence, the landing party explores a distant pulsar only to be taken prisoner by the bloodthirsty Iron Mass, a religious sect exiled from the Entelechy millennia before. Now Stone and his crew must escape while they try to solve the riddle of the planet’s network of stone towers that may be proof of the intelligence they’ve come to find.

The first in critically acclaimed author Chris Roberson’s scintillating new series, Further: Beyond the Threshold is a fascinating ride to the farthest reaches of the imagination.


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 809 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: 47North (May 22 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005ML3BW6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,338 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  181 reviews
55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Crisp Writing, Gripping, Some Problematic Ideas April 15 2012
By Reader from Washington, DC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I gave this book four stars because it is clearly and carefully written, with a good deal of humor. It also has a fascinating far future setting -- 12,000 years in the future -- that is appropriately disorienting to the hero, Jason Ramachandra Stone, a half-Indian, half-African-American astronaut displaced in time by a failure in his sleeper ship's mechanism that left him and his crew off-course and asleep for centuries.

The author takes many science fiction cliches -- astronaut awakening from long sleep centuries away from his own era, gateways to other planets allowing instantaneous travel, humans who look like animals, uploads of peoples' brains so that they can live forever, eternal youth due to nanotechnology -- and gives them fresh life.

The book has some wonderful set pieces where history buffs from the future approach Captain Stone and show hilarious misunderstandings of his era.

The reason I did not give the book five stars were some glaring improbabilities. I couldn't imagine why this far future culture would put Captain Stone in charge of its most futuristic star ship, given how primitive his science knowledge must have been on arrival.

The author's assumption that all of the intelligent people in the far future will be atheists is very unlikely. The bad guys in the novel are devoutly religious and destructive fundamentalists. This is another science fiction cliche, but the author did not give it convincing new life. The bad guys are very stereotyped in their appearance and beliefs -- cartoonish.

Finally, I had a problem with the multi-worlds government, supposed to be a supremely wise group. Centuries before, that government thought it was sufficient to simply disable the bad guys' star gate to the federated worlds to keep them out of mischief.

That is nice for the federated worlds, but shouldn't a supremely wise government have realized that the bad guys would then turn their negative attentions to harming inhabited planets outside of the multi-worlds government network?

Aside from these reservations, I found the book thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope the author writes more books.
73 of 85 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, but also a bit of a riddle. April 6 2012
By Kerry Nietz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm torn on how to review this book. I think it is wildly imaginative. For instance, the premise is great--a deep space explorer is woken from cryogenic suspension later than he expected. Sure, that notion has been used before in everything from Rip Van Winkle to Buck Rogers to Aliens. But what sets this book apart is the amount of time involved. Not tens or even hundreds of years, but thousands.

The irony here is that the protagonist (Captain RJ Stone) went out looking for alien life, but by the time he awakes, humans are the aliens. And I don't exaggerate when I say that. In the future this book describes (one 12,000 years hence) "human" is a nebulous term. There are human "beings" in mechanical bodies and in lab-grown biological (but not necessarily human in appearance) bodies. There are distributed intelligences (consciousness shared over more than one body), animals that have been "uplifted" to sentience, humans reconstructed from former memories...it has the makings of the cantina scene in Star Wars, except all the creatures can trace their origin to Earth. But even Earth has radically changed too.

Because the future is so very different from our own, "Further" spends many pages in description and exposition. Much of that is probably necessary, given the foreignness of the surroundings. However, it means that about two-thirds of the book is spent touring around and talking to creatures, and discovering still more human-based creatures. To the book's credit, I never felt like it was dragging. The new things were interesting enough to hold my attention. But if you're looking for Star Wars style action, you won't find it here until the end. And then it comes in a hurry.

** spoiler alert

The reason I have mixed feelings about the book stems more from the underlying themes. I have to admit, there were a couple times I almost put the book down. Don't get me wrong, I'm used to secular humanism being the law of the land in science fiction. Any person of faith has to be able to take a few digs if they're going to read it. But part of my consternation here is because I'm not sure what the author is trying to say. On the one hand, he has the main character slam creationism (calling it "antiscience") and religious thought overall, painting it as something that holds humanity back and ultimately dooms the United States. Yet on the other hand he seems to glorify a form of future Hinduism. (Perhaps because that belief-system lends itself most easily to the "anything is intelligent" future he has created?) Then, shock of all, the main villains--teased early on to be religious zealots--ultimately are evolutionists seeking to direct life toward a future Deity.

** end spoiler

It is all very strange. But maybe that's okay. Maybe the theme in such a novel should be open to wild interpretation. I was entertained, I applaud the speculation, but I leave a little puzzled.

(One side note, I think the title of this book is terrible. It is too generic and a bit of riddle. Even after reading the book it seems woefully lacking.)
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Series Debut May 13 2012
By Rodney Meek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I've been a fan of Chris Roberson's work for a few years now. He may, though, be a bit of an acquired taste. He doesn't deal with hard science, like classic Larry Niven. He doesn't delve into esoteric ideas like Vernor Vinge. He doesn't unleash sprawling space operas on the scale of Peter Hamilton. And he doesn't dish out complicated military SF like David Weber. But he takes elements from all of these, and what he does, he makes look easy.

I regard him primarily as a stylist. He excels at sketching in new universes and settings in a few quick, broad strokes without bogging down into smothering detail, and he can introduce large concepts without undue flourishes and hoopla. His prose is clean and straightforward and propulsive, moving along smoothly to the major action set-pieces and resetting in between the dramatic high points with a few reflective character moments. I would, though, have liked in this present volume to have had a bit more development of the protagonist, your standard Man Out of Time, who reacts to the revelation that hundreds of years have passed him by and made him obsolete with the equivalent of an unruffled "Bummer, man...but what can you do?" I might have preferred a *bit* more angst than that.

I'm oddly reminded of Peter David's initial Star Trek: New Frontier books here. As with those, much of the focus of this novel is on introducing the ship, an unfamiliar and unwanted captain, and its eccentric crew. Again, a bit more time spent with the supporting cast would've been nice, but your average Roberson novel gets skittish when the page count nears 300. This is, in any case, a real solid introduction to what hopefully will become an ongoing series, and I look forward to future installments and seeing how the characters will be fleshed out.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing return to novels for Roberson June 19 2012
By Jvstin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Sleeper Awakes is a common trope in science fiction. A form of one way time travel, it allows characters from or relatively close to our present to bear witness to futures they otherwise never could. Chris Roberson has his own take on the genre in his first novel after a fair fallow period, Further Beyond the Threshold. I was extremely excited to read this book, the author's return to novels after a period where he concentrated on his comic-writing career.

However, I was sorely disappointed.

Despite the imagination of the worldbuilding, the characterization was awful. Characters beyond Stone are often at best one or two note wonders, with a distinct lack of depth and nuance. Time and again, I was hoping to explore relationships that never went anywhere.

The plotting and the pacing of the novel are extremely broken, in my opinion. Time and pacing between events, and some minor events are described in a perfunctory, if not herky-jerky pace that continually jarred me as a reader. Further, the novel doesn't really show a development of anything like tension or a plot until the latter part of the novel.

The other problem with the novel is that I've read much better books tackling some of these themes and ideas. Post-Scarcity Humanity and wide-canvas futures have been done and been done well by others. Much better than here.

For me, in the end it was a chore to finish the novel.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and diverting but lacking in depth April 6 2012
By a scientist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'd never read anything by this author before, but would definitely read another book in this series, and may investigate some of his earlier short stories.

This story feels a little like a mash-up of a Buck Rogers hero-displaced-in-time story and the origin story for Star Trek Voyager. It's derivative in a pleasant way: much of the book is spent introducing the side characters and universe that we'll be exploring. There's a suitably evil enemy, plenty of political intrigue, and a main character who thinks that he's quite average and unexceptional, yet reveals himself to be amazingly adaptable and quite resourceful - in fact almost entirely flawless.

If that sounds a little like faint praise, here's why I enjoyed the book:
1, It's pretty well written - good vocabulary, not too much techno-babble, sentences that flow. It all adds up to a very pleasing writing style.
2, I think the author has a tremendous imagination - he created a universe of twelve thousand years in the future. Sidenote: There appears to be a pretty serious typo in a couple of parts of the book because we're NOT talking about the 34th century. This book is set in the 142nd century. That's a long span of time and it's only really been considered well by a few authors (Stephen Baxter stands out particularly, although one could argue that J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 tackled it, too). It's audacious to even try, but I really enjoyed what this author came up with.

There are definitely some things that could be improved for next time. I thought the main character suffered remarkably little disorientation, and was very accepting of his fate. I would have liked to see more friction/evolution of thought. While I enjoyed being introduced to all of the characters, I wanted to find out more about the protagonist. There's a lot of Star Trek elements in this book, including a sacrificial red-shirt, a Utopian view of the future, strange 'aliens' who are all vaguely human, and some questioning of what it means to be human. Don't get me wrong: I loved all that. But how about giving us something that's unique to these characters?

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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