Long time, no see.
I was inspired by Ryan North's reading of Back to the Future, the novelization of the epic movie. In this case, I'm doing a blow-by-blow rockin' review of a book I'm personally pumped about-- Farnham's Legend by Helge Kautz. I picked up the English version from the Egosoft Shop.
As a preface, I've absolutely loved the X-Universe series of games and, with my purchase of X-Rebirth, I discovered Helge (the author of this book), is in a band and wrote a rock opera telling the X-Universe's famous story of Brennan from the original game. The opera is appropriately called Beyond the Frontier. I've never played BtF, the first "X" game and the story in the music confused me a lottle near the end. So... here I am reading this book. Cautiously excited. JOIN IN THE DAMN FUN!
Jesus. It's two pages, but it's got the whole future history of the Earth from the year 2000 'til the X universe begins in proper. Ashizava Kazuko creates the first artificial wormhole. René Farnham piloted the Winterblossom and its crew of 12 around natural jumpgates (we used to think they were black holes-- silly us!)
In two paragraphs, we learn humanity joins together to explore the universe, and in building automated ships, accidentally started the "Great Terraformer War". I absolutely love when people do shit like this. It's like the beginning of the film "Pacific Rim" in which a crazy huge possible storyline is just sorta dropped. It does two things: (a) creates a place where I want a prequel to happen, or I can daydream about such a prequel, and (b) sets an expectation that if something this huge can happen in a sentence or two, what will happen in the rest of the book? So cool.
Nathan R. Gunne lures a huge armada into Earth's jumpgate and blows it up. Most sci-fi that deals with jumpgates eventually destroys one to some colossal end. Expect no less here, I guess.
Seven hundred years later? Woah...
John Friedmann is our main character for the moment. His sidekick is Ayse McCallum. They fly (I think) the Rii-4. I say "I think" because it's never actually stated... which makes my eyebrows furrow in a weird way.
I get a little weird about translations. Listening to some English errors in the opera, I was expecting some real dud-style sentences in the book... and I'm not disappointed. Paragraph two features: "Perhaps she was pondering the twin paradox, or, more likely, thinking of her beloved, Gisbert, whom she loved unconditionally with all of her heart." Five commas and a little repetition and a random reference to asymmetrical aging. This book is gonna be good.
Got a little tickle when Joseph Swartz is introduced from Mission Control aboard the USC Eldridge-- That's right, even the "the" is italicized.
Some random Japanese is thrown around in here... which is a little to be expected from playing the games. I suppose it's because of Kazuko from the prologue. I know it's probably not the case, but I get that feeling that some animé fan was like, "I wanna put some Japanese in this story 'coz I love all things Japan, and I'm an expert on Japanese culture! And one day some cute Asian woman will love me for who I am." He'd follow this up with more of that sort of Donald-Duck-talk sounding speech impediment. His acne-covered face would gleam in the harsh light of the basement's drop-in ceiling...
Right. Back to page 12 where a mysterious object is hurtling through space toward the QUASI Experimental Installation between Mars and Jupiter. Ayse and John approach it. There's some more clunky writing, but if I point out each instance, I would probably have transcribed the entire book... and Egosoft would be writing me nasty cease-and-desist letters. Let me say, though, that this style with its awkward repetition makes it really hard to miss facts.
The mysterious object is, as they had guessed, an alien space-craft. An explosion as it entered the solar system sent it spinning. It's weirdly organic looking and John throws out, "Ask Kyle would probably say, get a load of that flying turd!" No single quotes around the nested quote (there goes my eyebrows again), but, more importantly, we get our first mention of the hero of the X universe Kyle Brennan. The opera says he has a sense of humor but never shows it. I hope that John in the book, when he mimicked Brennan, lowered his voice two octaves and slathered on a thick German accent. *swoon*
So, what's this ship? Borons? Splits? Paranids? Which exciting alien species do we meet first? Wakka wakka. Turns out the ship is from the Terraformer Fleet-- good thing I didn't skip the Prologue. A few electromagnetic whatsits and another out-of-place name-drop of Gisbert later, the ship stops its crazy rotation. For Ayse's total devotion to Gisbert in the first page the book says, "She would stay with the USC, even if it drove a wedge between them". Eyebrows, stop that.
The Terraformer ship was apparently not entirely defunct and, in a few paragraphs of really well-done writing, both ships are destroyed. So long, Johnny boy. Debris is sent to the far side of the moon (of course), and Gisbert is exceptionally emo.
That wraps up the prologue and first chapter. Extremely short. Terraformers, gone for seven centuries are back!