Ironically, the actual structure of Element X—admitted to be "impossible" but given a plausible hypothesis—is more believable than the science that's supposedly possible. A story about the first mission to Pluto would be expected to have a sense of wonder, a dose of mystery and perhaps some alien contact. In this case, Forbidden the Stars proves conclusively that Valmore Daniels has enough flexibility to reach into his posterior clear up to his elbow.
Allow me to explain We begin with the ramblings of an old man in BF Mexico talking about how the Mayan gods punished them for their arrogance and disobedience and put the white man in charge of earth. However, one A story about the first mission to Pluto would be expected to have a sense of wonder, a dose of mystery and perhaps some alien contact.
However, one day the Mayans will return to their place of prominence. I'm not an expert in Mayan culture, but I'm not buying this. That was the introduction and sort of sets the tone for the bovine scatology that follows. Late 21st century earth sees the major powers of the world creating corporations for the benefit of space exploration. Personally, I thought that Kim Stanley Robinson's idea of transnational corporations as de facto nations in Red Mars was a better idea.
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Canada has been mining asteroids for the minerals earth needs to keep on keeping on. Once on Pluto, the crew of Orcus 1 comes across an alien artifact that has engravings of many languages on it, one of which turns out to be Mayan. The crew, in a fit of unoriginality, calls it Dis Pater after the Roman god of the underworld - later changed to Pluto.
While understandably a great discovery, back in the asteroid belt a tragic accident causes Macklin's Rock to accelerate on its way out of the solar system, killing Alex's parents. The asteroid eventually comes to a stop in Plutonian orbit. The explosion reveals the existence of Element X which may hold the key to interstellar travel. Thus, the world powers and a bitter Chinese man by the name of Chow Yin seek to find out what connection there is between the young Alex and Element X.
Forced to abandon Pluto, Orcus 1 leaves to rescue Alex and bring him home. Unfortunately, the ship is intercepted by pirates yes, I said pirates. Turner panics and jettisons the contents of her cargo bay which just so happens to contain Alex and his rescue pod from the asteroid.
Somehow, in Daniels' universe, this earns Turner not one, but two more flights to Pluto. Having been exposed to Element X has made Alex a very special boy indeed. Chow Yin's efforts to capitalize on his capture are thwarted and once science has seemingly unlocked the tools to Element X now called Kinemet , Alex is a mere afterthought.
Four years later, earth's first interstellar ship, the Quanta, is ready for testing.
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Alex, hearing voices in his head, manages to sneak aboard Quanta and convinces the head of NASA to let him fly the ship, replacing the original pilot. Of note, the book has a mistake concerning this pilot. Page says, "Capt. Kincardine, father of two, has been a pilot for CSE.
I know he does not have a wife or children But it's in the last chapters where the book really starts clipping the trees on its way to a crash landing. Alex's flight on Quanta ends up taking him past Pluto and into the next galaxy, Dis Pater not stopping him as originally thought. While seeing the ship streak by, Captain Turner is blinded.
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Who knows? As time goes by, Alex is presumed lost. Eight years later, he mysteriously reappears. We're not told. And yet the book ends up with him in Mexico talking to the old man from the preface. Alex is now the Mayan Sky god and they're going to decipher the ancient scroll the grandfather has been keeping all his life. Why would the Mayans gods seek to dethrone the white man from his place of prominence? Why do we have a bitter Chinese man living in microgravity skimming money from tariffs and duties living in opulent wealth instead of squalor?
Why do we have three missions to Pluto when the second one is glossed over as "nothing new was found, but we had a good time"? Just how much space travel is taking place that has pirates flying around? Why doesn't Captain Turner need a guide dog after she's blinded? The whole idea of Alex mysteriously reappearing on earth without explaining why - and then having him revealed to now be a Mayan god would cause a reader to throw his book against the wall.
This book would've worked a whole lot better without the Mayan angle. In fact, it may have been better had it developed into a first contact story. Beyond that, there is a certain level of flat-out technobabble that doesn't really connect to reality. As an engineer, the science in science has to be realistic for me to buy in.
Forbidden The Stars: The Interstellar Age, #1
I couldn't buy in to Element X; as an element, it sits so far outside the periodic table that it needs its own sheet of paper. The author thought it best to have the exact same crew for all three Pluto missions save one.
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He did this to avoid having to create any new characters - it was simply easier to recycle the existing ones. And Chow Yin? After the PRC section on Luna is taken over, he disappears from the book. Surely he could've provided some additional tension - perhaps he knows more about Element X, perhaps he has a something up his sleeve that could cause harm if he doesn't get his way.
But no, we gets pages of Mayan goofiness. Mar 01, Meesha Meserole rated it liked it Shelves: read This is a 3. I was very caught up in the plot and the themes of the story, but it felt a little clumsy in execution. Most of the challenge, I think, lies in the span of years the story covers. Interstellar travel and multiple POVs from across the solar system are tough nuts to crack. It's hard to know exactly what to include and what to skip. I felt some characters were fleshed out more than they should have been for how they were treated in the story; it was a little annoying to This is a 3.
I felt some characters were fleshed out more than they should have been for how they were treated in the story; it was a little annoying to have access to someone's inner thoughts and motivations and then for them to suddenly disappear from the story except to be mentioned briefly in the tying off of their thread. It's certainly possible to include brief POVs of less-important characters who only appear briefly, but it wasn't pulled off very well in this case. The various POVs and methods of delivering information worked out well, although some of it was a little too technical for me and I admit to skimming some sections while the more scientific details were being discussed at length.
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I think a touch less of that in the novel itself would make it more accessible; I wanted to be able to at least have a rudimentary grasp on everything I read but some of it was just too irrelevant or complicated for me to care. To end on a more positive note, the book has a lot of promise and was interesting enough to keep me from getting too frustrated with inconsistent character development and excessive science talk. Jun 02, James rated it liked it. An interesting tale of humanity's journey to the edge of the solar system and struggle to understand what they find there, which may be the key to interstellar travel.
This novel is well-written and engaging, although it could have benefited quite a bit from some scientific editing. The technology is largely jargon-based and will leave fans of 'hard' scifi rolling their eyes. All that said, the mysteries of Element X, the discoveries on Pluto, and the motives of a lunar madman do much to An interesting tale of humanity's journey to the edge of the solar system and struggle to understand what they find there, which may be the key to interstellar travel.
All that said, the mysteries of Element X, the discoveries on Pluto, and the motives of a lunar madman do much to entertain. May 28, Bill rated it it was ok. I think I only read this book because it was free, and hence already on my Kindle, and I was on holiday.
And I thought the story showed promise. The discovery of a new element involved in light speed travel would indeed change everything. But it didn't leave me wanting more, the story had too much teasing I know something but I won't tell you what yet , too little involvement in the characters. Jan 26, Jim McGowan rated it liked it. If some of the 'science' is ignored, this is a good, old fashioned sci fi story. Old fashioned in the sense that the style was reminiscent of sci fi from the 60s or so.