I’m part of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads and they selected This Alien Shore for a book of the month. I got it through interlibrary loan originally, and stopped a little ways in (I think around 50 pages) because I loved it so much I wanted to listen to it. I could tell already that it would turn into something special for me. I have had some difficulties happen recently that meant that I didn’t listen as much as I normally would (10-20 hours/week), so it took a little bit longer than I’d have liked.
It was totally worth it. The description as cyberpunk Dune doesn’t really do total justice to the book, but it’s not completely inaccurate. There are many parallels with the broader ideas of those, but it’s also quite different. This Alien Shore is much more intimate than Dune is, to the point where as a reader you’re almost claustrophobic at times. Much of the book is internal, but it never feels like there’s too much monologue to me. The plot follows a young woman who seems to be afflicted by memory loss as she’s being hotly pursued by at least one threatening group. Meanwhile, other characters work to try to stop a kind of computer virus from undermining space travel.
I loved the central mystery of the plot, which you don’t really even get fully until the very, very end. It was such a great hook to get me interested, and it just stayed there the whole time without ever feeling stale. Some readers may see it as something of a deus ex machina, but I think there are enough hints to pick it up. Pay attention, if you read it!
Some books that do cyberpunk make it really opaque to the point of incoherence to me. Neuromancer is one I’ve read several times and I’m still not sure if I love or loathe it or understand it at all. Here, the elements that are standard for the subgenre were not always easy to pick up on, but they were much simpler to grasp. Absolutely loved the use of devices throughout and the way the whole story played out. The tech was integral to the plot at multiple key points, which made it seem much less of an attempt at prophesying the future than much cyberpunk does. The combination of different aspects of the plot with the many, many fantastic ideas Friedman brings to the table makes the book constantly feel fresh without being incomprehensible.
I will definitely be seeking out more works by Friedman in the future. This was astonishingly good. Check out This Alien Shore yourself. I recommend it very highly.
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I recommend The Coldfire Trilogy. One of my favourite series.
I’ve been working on that one on audio. I’m gonna need to read it on the page bc it’s very complex. Loving it, though.
Definitely not one for audio. I wouldn’t mind having a listen now that I’ve read it though.
Oh yeah. It’s one that should be reread on audio, but as a first time and at the speed I listen, not the best choice imo.