review from a fan of the game

By rbelikov, in Free Fall

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

After initial apprehension from reading the first three free chapters online 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 bioroids 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 hoping these errors can be corrected in the next printing if there is one? Or that you can show me that I'm mistaken in thinking these are errors? I'm happy to send you details.)

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.

Thanks for the review, not much out there about this...

Skowza said:

Thanks for the review, not much out there about this...

I'll second rbelikov's review. It's a really enjoyable read, better than most game-related fiction out there.

I bought the Android game a month or so ago. And while it my rarely hit my table (due to most of my friends being too ADD or just outright disliking the playstyle), I absolutely loved the comprehensive universe it established.

In that sense, Freefall becomes almost a nescessary companion to the game, because it takes Androids established universe, and then fleshes it all completely out. In Freefall, you get a sense of just how big the Android universe is, and it goes to great lengths to establish and explain the setting, world and many of the characters in the game. I really enjoyed how everything felt - if not accurate - at least grounded in some sense of the real world. The use of varying microgravities and the effects thereof, as well as the idea behind the BioRoids and Clones dipping into the Uncanny Valley were all explorations I really appreciated. It's no Agatha Christie, but it's a fun, enjoyable read that really lays out the setting for one of my new favorite games. I give it a 7/10, unless you wish to familiarize yourself with the Android Universe, in which case it becomes a MUST READ.