Good, well paced story. Reminded me of Heinlein’s “juveniles” in the pacing, dialogue, etc; and I mean that in a good sense. Young people (and some not so young) faced with making choices that have far-reaching consequences. An intriguing scientific development which can affect the whole human race forces the protagonists to grow up. I am looking forward to the continuation of the series.
I really enjoyed this book, but a warning for the hard science people – you may not like some of the cavalier treatment conservation of mass and energy gets.
Another nitpick I have is the old story of 1) discover a technology on Monday 2) debug the technology on Tuesday and 3) deploy the technology on Wednesday. I exaggerate, but only slightly.
In spite of this I gave it 4 stars, because who doesn’t enjoy giving it to the man?
I would share this reviewer’s concerns if the violations of standard conservation of mass and energy weren’t explained in two ways: explicitly, by Steve Duong (who shares the unease), and implicitly by the “world as simulation” thread of the story, which should leave the reader wondering if the story is taking place in a simulation itself. It’s pointed out that just such violations of physical laws would be expected on the margins of a less-than-perfect simulation, and there’s no reason to believe the physics-as-computation-on-substrate of what we think of reality is free of such flaws.
As for the normal pace of development of a technology, I’m asking the reader to believe Steve Duong is one of those rare geniuses who can do in a week what might take a team of scientists a year. While such people are rare, they do exist; and the story must move fast and so can’t stop to do more than hint at the long process of development in normal teams.
The Kindle version is available on Amazon here, at only $2.99, while the trade paperback is available here at around $14 — but use the sale code BOOKDEAL25 for 25% off (I assume until Dec. 25th.)
So far, it’s received two Amazon reviews:
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
By M. Cunningham
This is a fast pace science fiction thriller which pits college students against the powers-that-be in a realistic near-future. The dialog and characters are well-developed, believable, and the author seems to capture the mind-set and vernacular of the intellectual college students who tend to rebel against the status-quo. Some of the story had me ‘on the edge of my seat’ so to speak wondering if the college rebels were going to succeed. The novel also gives one much to think about concerning government power, educational systems, capitalism, and the limits of social equality. I heard echoes of Robert Heinlein here (which made sense in reading the author’s end-notes ‘Quotes from the Golden Age of Science Fiction’.) The only disappointment for me was I now have to wait for book 2 to see how the conflict proceeds.
4.0 out of 5 stars The story took a moment to get going, but …
By Benjamin Olsen
The story took a moment to get going, but became one the most engaging reads I’ve encountered in months. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
“Red Queen is a story about the yearning for freedom and agency in a world dominated by bureaucrats and propagandists, and it would not have been published by a major house. The world of Red Queen is just a decade or two away, and looks very much like the world we live in, just a few steps worse. In the tradition of Heinlein’s If This Goes On–, I have extrapolated from current trends and imagined the politics that result. The authoritarian tendencies we see in modern western states will probably be reversed at some point–but what if they just keep getting worse? This is especially true of the US, with its 9/11-justified surveillance and interception of every citizen’s email and message metadata, and a penal-industrial complex that imprisons about one in three black men at some point in their lives, often for victimless crimes like drug possession. A more serious terrorist incident might lead to even more restrictions on freedom and privacy. And that’s where Red Queen begins.”
The Kindle version is available on Amazon here, and at only $0.99 for a week or two so my friends can all buy it cheaply. Of course I want some good reviews to get it going, presuming it deserves them!
Red Queen: The Substrate Wars, first book in a long series.
Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored — rather like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people. In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time; only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.
This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the world, or save it. They take on the responsibility of using it for good. Homeland Security is one step behind them. Spies and traitors lurk. Shall it be repressive bureaucratic stagnation, or human expansion to the stars?