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Subject: Review of Freefall, the Android novel rss

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I just finished the Android novel, and thought I'd submit a review.

After initial apprehension from reading the first three chapters on the FFG site which didn't impress me that much, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of the book. In fact, I think this book is awesome (at least for what it is). Kudos to Bill Keith! Here are some specific things I love about it:

1. Incredible attention to detail. Everything is thought out very deeply and described thoroughly.

2. Richly fleshed out sci-fi sociopolitics and twisty psychologies/incentives, at times reminiscent of an Asimov sci-fi murder mystery. Definitely a page-turner, especially at the end.

3. Lots of hard sci-fi physics reminiscent of Clarke, especially when it comes to the space elevator (but see below). Thank you Bill for putting the space elevator on the equator!! The author was undoubtedly influenced by both Clarke and Asimov.

4. It is clear that the author took a lot of effort to study and understand the Android universe, and a lot of details from the game are explained. (Ever wonder why Haas androids have blank eyes w/o pupils and wires on their hands? It's uncanny!) I love the game and it is almost scary how this book is *exactly* how I imagined the Android universe. He just gets it right.

5. It comes with an order form for an event card for the game.

And here are the cons:

1. Number one pet peeve: physics errors, some gross. In particular, the Coriolis force on the elevator is ignored, there is confusion between acceleration and gravity, a few calculations are obviously off (to a physicist at least), and a few other things. These don't detract from the book and are easy to fix (I just make a mental erratum and keep going.) And I do love the detailed science descriptions in my books and applaud Bill for putting them in there. However, if the author chooses to put in scientific detail, the onus is on him to get those details right. (Bill, if you are reading this I'm happy to send you specifics and/or be proven wrong about any apparent physics errors.)

2. I felt that the book wasn't quite polished enough. I felt that there were some quasi-repetitions and that in general the writing could have been leaner. There were also one or two inconsistencies in dates. (Again, Bill, if you're reading this, I'm happy to send you the details.)

3. For those not familiar with the Android universe, some things and characters may feel contrived, and it may be easy to get lost in the richness and the number of different characters. I think you need to pay close attention if you're not familiar with the Android universe.

The bottom line is that even though this book won't win any awards for literary style or character development, and is a bit rough around the edges in general, it blew all my (understandably low) expectations. You won't be disappointed if you want to see the world of Android richly fleshed out, if you appreciate murder mysteries, and if you dig detailed sci-fi settings complete with hard science and sociopolitics.
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Paul Brillantes
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One last tour here on the Death Star and I can retire. What was that noise?!
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So basically, I have to get the book now.shake

Damn you, rbelikov! devil
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Am I the only dumbass who doesn't understand the why the space elevator needs to be on the equator? (I thought a space elevator was totally illogical.)

Anyway important question: can you play the novel out on the gameboard?
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Don't think of the space elevator as a really tall building. Think of it as a satellite (a really long one), which needs to orbit synchronously with the Earth, i.e. be in a "geostationary orbit". Such an orbit is only possible in the plane of Earth's equator.

If you were to somehow build a structure not on the equator that goes into space, it would experience intense forces far beyond any foreseeable technology. On the other hand, a space elevator on the equator is plausible with superstrong materials almost available today (such as carbon nanotubes). Why do you think a space elevator is "totally illogical"?

I wouldn't say you can "play the novel out" on the gameboard, but you can certainly follow the novel on the gameboard.
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Frank Franco
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rbelikov wrote:
Don't think of the space elevator as a really tall building. Think of it as a satellite (a really long one), which needs to orbit synchronously with the Earth, i.e. be in a "geostationary orbit". Such an orbit is only possible in the plane of Earth's equator.


My brain hurts.

Quote:
If you were to somehow build a structure not on the equator that goes into space, it would experience intense forces far beyond any foreseeable technology. On the other hand, a space elevator on the equator is plausible with superstrong materials almost available today (such as carbon nanotubes). Why do you think a space elevator is "totally illogical"?


Well I just think of it as a giant tube connecting the earth and the moon. Since the moon revolves around the earth it would end up snaping in half or wrapping around the earth or some shit.
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Mr Skeletor wrote:
Well I just think of it as a giant tube connecting the earth and the moon. Since the moon revolves around the earth it would end up snaping in half or wrapping around the earth or some shit.


Don't let the board fool you...the Space Elevator doesn't actually connect physically to the moon. The advantage of space elevators is that they allow one to get escape Earth's orbit with far less fuel than taking off from planetside. The last step on the Beanstalk is a ferry, where you fly the rest of the distance. Why a ferry from LEO to the moon is quicker than going up an elevator is anyone's guess, but there it is.
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the pete wrote:
Why a ferry from LEO to the moon is quicker than going up an elevator is anyone's guess, but there it is.


If I understand the question correctly, the space elevator cannot go much past ~70,000km or it will fly away from Earth due to centripetal force. The moon is 300,000km away, so you have no choice but to take the ferry.
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John McKendrick
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rbelikov wrote:
Don't think of the space elevator as a really tall building. Think of it as a satellite (a really long one), which needs to orbit synchronously with the Earth, i.e. be in a "geostationary orbit". Such an orbit is only possible in the plane of Earth's equator.

If you were to somehow build a structure not on the equator that goes into space, it would experience intense forces far beyond any foreseeable technology. On the other hand, a space elevator on the equator is plausible with superstrong materials almost available today (such as carbon nanotubes). Why do you think a space elevator is "totally illogical"?

I wouldn't say you can "play the novel out" on the gameboard, but you can certainly follow the novel on the gameboard.



Hi Rus

Not all satellites in geosynchronous orbit are above the equator, correct?

If so .... in physics terms .... what is the problem with constructing the space elevator under one of these?

-John
 
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Cracky McCracken
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Arthur C Clarck writes about space elevators in "3001". They're spaced out evenly around the Earth along the equator and rise 220 miles into orbit. Imagine if you lowered a cable from the ISS all the way to the ground and than started building a structure from that. That's how they did it.

3001 was published in Playboy many moons ago so my memory of it is fuzzy, but that's the gist of it. People who are born and raised in orbit at the top of the elevator basically evolve into their own class of human beings because they can never travel to the Earth. The gravity well paralyses them, so they have to forever live in orbit. The people in orbit can freely generate energy through a variety of means (0g turbines, solar panels etc), but they depend on the earth for supplies.

The concept of blasting off from earth via a rocket is as ancient to them as sailing across the ocean in a primitive ship is to us. You ride the elevator into orbit, and than shuttle off to the moon or other destinations (you're free of earth's atmosphere and gravity well at the top of the elevator). I think emnity developes between the orbit people and earth people and the orbit people want to declare their independence from earth.

i'm gonna have to dig that issue of Playboy back up. it's in a box somewhere
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So basically you climb the building until you get out of the earth atmosphere, and board your ship from there?
 
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JohnMcKendrick wrote:
rbelikov wrote:
Don't think of the space elevator as a really tall building. Think of it as a satellite (a really long one), which needs to orbit synchronously with the Earth, i.e. be in a "geostationary orbit". Such an orbit is only possible in the plane of Earth's equator.

If you were to somehow build a structure not on the equator that goes into space, it would experience intense forces far beyond any foreseeable technology. On the other hand, a space elevator on the equator is plausible with superstrong materials almost available today (such as carbon nanotubes). Why do you think a space elevator is "totally illogical"?

I wouldn't say you can "play the novel out" on the gameboard, but you can certainly follow the novel on the gameboard.



Hi Rus

Not all satellites in geosynchronous orbit are above the equator, correct?

If so .... in physics terms .... what is the problem with constructing the space elevator under one of these?

-John


Geosynchronous orbits are possible in places other than the equator, but geostationary orbits are not. Geosynchronous orbits have an orbital period that's the same as Earth's rotational period, so from a point of view on the Earth's surface they appear to remain stationary in the east/west direction, but will drift north and south over the course of the day. Only geostationary orbits, which are only possible at the equator, are entirely stationary relative to Earth's surface.
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Cracky McCracken
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Mr Skeletor wrote:
So basically you climb the building until you get out of the earth atmosphere, and board your ship from there?


yup. that's the idea. The big-assed drill hanging from the Romulan mining ship in the latest Star Trek movie is like a space elevator.
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Cracky wrote:
Arthur C Clarck writes about space elevators in "3001". They're spaced out evenly around the Earth along the equator and rise 220 miles into orbit. Imagine if you lowered a cable from the ISS all the way to the ground and than started building a structure from that. That's how they did it.


A better reference is actually his book "Fountains of Paradise" (which I highly recommend -- it won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards!)

Unlike "3001", the space elevator is its primary focus.

PS lowering a cable from the ISS won't work b/c it's in low Earth orbit, some hundreds of kilometers up. You have to lower a cable from a sattelite in geostationary orbit, ~40,000km up. The space elevators in "3001" go up to geostationary orbit IIRC.

Edit: PsychoDan, thanks for answering John's question above, that's absolutely correct.
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Thanks for the review! I definitely need to get this (which I had been idly meaning to do, but uh basically forgot).

And now that we're talking about space elevator fiction, it's also worth mentioning China Mieville's outstanding short story.

edit: ugh, the url keeps breaking, but I guess one can just copy/paste: http://www.iconeye.com/read-previous-issues/icon-080-|-february-2010/china-mieville-the-rope-is-the-world
 
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pmbrill77 wrote:
So basically, I have to get the book now.shake

Damn you, rbelikov! devil


I found the author's name listed at bn.com as William H. Keith. Actually, I looked the book up through the shop on my nook color, so YMMV.
 
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Jeffery Bass
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What's this? Why, it's the Hiller Flying Platform! It flew in 1955.
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One problem in visualizing the space elevator is the seeming impossibility of dropping a cable from a geostationary object down to earth without dragging the entire contraption down to the ground. If you drop a cable down to earth from a mass at the geostationary orbit, you need to counter this with more mass (either more cable or a counterweight) that extends above the geostationary point. This way the entire system is rigid and holds itself up while obeying all the laws of orbital mechanics.
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If you look at the gameboard, the top of the Beanstalk is called "Challanger Memorial Ferry". So that's a space ferry connecting to the moon. Flint actually has a bad memory about flying above the moon which can be triggered when he's on the ferry.
 
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Cracky McCracken
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Reading "Free Fall" now thanks to this review. You can bundle it in with other stuff and get free shipping on it from Amazon.

Three things i really like about it so far... The detectives from the game make appearances in the book like "guest stars", which is very cool. Got me thinking that it would have been neat if each detective in the game would have (or could have through POD) a few Event cards of their own. That way, if a detective, say Caprice, is not actually being played by someone, her Caprice Event cards could be shuffled into the Event Deck and she could maybe pop in and out of the game as a part of the population of NA.

The whole Beanstalk part is a trip, literally, i really like the way the author takes the time to describe traveling on it and what it's all about.

A promo card! I already sent away for it. ($1.99 for postage in the US, 6-8 weeks for delivery)

Since the "Free Fall" card may very well be the only expansion Android will ever get, i might have to do a review of it
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Cracky wrote:


3001 was published in Playboy...

i'm gonna have to dig that issue of Playboy back up. it's in a box somewhere


Ummm... you do know there's pictures of naked chicks in there, right?

--kMs
 
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i read Playboy for the articles. (my wife actually got me the subscription, how hot is that? )
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Cracky wrote:
i read Playboy for the articles.


That's the same reason I watch porn.


Back to OP:

Nice review. I posted a while back about how I had been very non-plussed by the Chap. 1 preview of the novel. Chapter 2 did fare a bit better, so I'm happy to see a decent review of the book. I doubt I'd be disappointed by the book, as my expectations are very low, but I can't see myself shelling out for it. Still, great food for thought.


-kMs
 
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Rick Sheppard
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I read the book and really liked it. In other news my Promo card came in the mail today! There's a sheet in the back of the book if you mail it in with a couple bucks they send you an event card based on the book.

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1099503/
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How long ago did you order it?
 
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Johan L
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Good review, made me download the (free) Kindle sample to get a feel for if I'd like it. meeple
 
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Johan wrote:
Good review, made me download the (free) Kindle sample to get a feel for if I'd like it. meeple


Where did you find a Kindle version of it? Amazon doesn't have one as far as I can tell.
 
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