“Farside” by Ben Bova (Tor, 2013)


At a point in the not too distant future, the far side of the moon has been colonized, the modular created town aptly named Farside.  The plan is to build a full-functioning massive observatory to look at the distant stars, and most importantly a distant Earth-like planet, located in the Goldilocks zone, that is hoped to harbor alien life.

But there’s a long way to go between manufacturing the giant mirrors for the telescopes and getting them up and running.  After one of the mirrors is accidentally dropped and cracked, it’s necessary to make a new one, and they’re on a deadline.  So they look at using nano machines, banned on Earth for fear of being used for ill will, on the moon it may be the thing that can save them.  Farside is also a haven for the unwanted, independent from the government and ruling of Earth. But after a series of strange accidents, it’s clear someone doesn’t want this plan to succeed.

Bova does a great job of making this future world believable and realistic, and while the final solution is a little simple and predictable, overall Farside is still a fun science fiction read.

Originally written on June 3, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Farside from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


“Micro” by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston (Harper, 2011)


Found as an incomplete manuscript on the late Michael Crichton’s computer, Micro is an example of the old style of Crichton’s work, with a great extension of cutting edge science, pushing it into the field of science fiction.  In some of Crichton’s more recent novels there has been an overbearing philosophy and biased political angle; fortunately, there is little of this in Micro, though his “corrupt” characters are thin and painfully obvious.  Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer, was brought in by the publisher to complete the manuscript, and he does a good job of making the whole novel feel seamless, working off of Crichton’s outlines, notes and research.

Micro opens with the scene of three unknown bodies found in a business office in Honolulu; cause of death is uncertain at first, and then attributed to a number of micro cuts and lacerations over the whole body, including, when it is investigated, inside the body on tissues and organs.  Cut to Nanigen Technologies, an up and coming company with a number of secret projects going on.  Seven graduate students are picked from MIT to become assistants for the company located in Hawaii, but stumble onto some details they shouldn’t know anything about.  Before they know it, they find themselves shrunk down to just inches in size and abandoned in a rain forest arboretum, left to die.  The question is whether they can first keep themselves alive at this size, with everything out to get them, and then get themselves back to normal size and stop the people behind all this.

Micro definitely has its high points, and while the characters can seem predictable and shallow, overall it’s an entertaining novel that doesn’t hold up to any of Crichton’s greats, like Jurassic Park and Congo, but is nevertheless a fun last book from this bestselling author.

Originally written on December 28, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Micro from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.