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December 4, 2013 / minusbar

Book Review: The Goliath Stone (Yes, we do *occasionally* review Sci-fi)

Book Review: “The Goliath Stone” by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington

Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer’s controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer’s nanites also have the potential to make everyone on Earth rich from the wealth of asteroids.

Twenty-five years ago, the Briareus mission took nanomachinery out to divert an Earth-crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, only to drop out of contact as soon as it reached its target. The project was shut down and the technology was forcibly suppressed.

Now, a much, much larger asteroid is on a collision course with Earth—and the Briareus nanites may be responsible. While the government scrambles to find a solution, Glyer knows that their only hope of avoiding Armageddon lies in the nanites themselves. On the run, Glyer must track down his old partner, William Connors, and find a way to make contact with their wayward children.

As every parent learns, when you produce a new thinking being, the plans it makes are not necessarily your plans. But with a two-hundred-gigaton asteroid that rivals the rock that felled the dinosaurs hurtling toward Earth, Glyer and Connors don’t have time to argue. Will Glyer’s nanites be Earth’s salvation or destruction?

I’m not a huge fan of hard core science fiction. I tend to get lost in the rambling scientific terms and my lack of a rocket science degree makes me feel like I’m missing out on half the story. However, The Goliath Stone (by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington) was actually pretty enjoyable.

As far as the techno-babble went, it had both high and low points. I enjoyed the parts that were written from the nanites’ point of view. Those were just another (easily understandable) part of the story, and an interesting one as well. Who honestly doesn’t want to read about the evolution of a nanite colony in progressive order? As the book progressed, though, I found my eyes glazing over more than once as the conversations became more and more scientifically oriented. If you’re used to that sort of thing I’m sure it’s easy to follow. If you’re not, well… have to start somewhere, right?

I respected the characters in the book.  Part of the reason for this was because of the questionable motives some held, such as the personal crusade of William Conners to “fix” humanity. Tempting, but really, how well could that actually work? It provokes multitudes of questions to ponder. The conversations were lightning fast. Indeed, sometimes I found it necessary to re-read a passage to make sure I hadn’t missed anything (especially the literary references, given mostly by Conners).

The one thing I was truly let down over was the pacing. The book itself isn’t really that long– only 320 pages. So when the plot kept building with no resolution in sight as the pages dwindled I became concerned. The ending came abruptly, with a rather dull climax. It seemed that the entire book was a preface. I suppose you could call the final paragraph or so “inspiring”, but I really think it could have been developed more instead of adding more witty dialogue.

Overall, it was one of the more understandable science fiction books I’ve read. If you want to check it out then look here!





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