Two sci-fi books: Project Hail Mary + Sleeping Giants

I love sci-fi. Be it movies, TV shows or books. Some crazy imagination paired with real science just hits the right spots for me. So it is a bit sad, that the last two sci-fi books I read were a bit of a disappointment for me.

The last two sci-fi books I read had a weird common thread – one very powerful human who kind of didn’t answer to anyone. I guess I understand that in a crisis world leaders pick a “project manager” for preventing the end of the world. Though I’d love to see that meeting of egos. But I have no clue how the nameless guy in Sleeping Giants would get that power.

Project Hail Mary

I am one of those people who just can’t let it go if something bothers me. And there were two things I couldn’t let go of in Project Hail Mary.

But starting from the beginning – the book has been on my reading list for a while, because of the Martian. of course (I only saw the movie) and all the praise the book got. So I finally bought it.

The cover says:

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. /…/

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

Spoiler: he’s not alone. He meets an alien and this is where my problem starts. I mean most of it is wonderful, there is a lot of thought behind it. The alien can’t just magically breathe the same air as humans and doesn’t happen to be bi-pedal, the size of a human and with all the same senses as we are. So that’s good. But the language – that’s my problem. Ryland, a scientist who says he doesn’t know much about music and notes, is fluent in the whale-song-like alien language in a few months. Have you ever tried to learn a new language as a grown-up?

And ok, I get that you point at stuff, get the alien word for it from the alien and enter it into your own language software. But explaining radiation, evolution, and everything else that you can’t point at with a few weeks of learning words … nope. And I know I know, it is science fiction, let it go. But I can’t, because there was sooo much science in the book. It just stood out.

I also didn’t connect to the main characters. So I actually liked the half of the book that took place on Earth. The space side just wasn’t my thing.

Sleeping Giants

I found this one in a second-hand shop and remembered it being on my radar a while ago. Because of that, I didn’t really bother to read what the book was about. I took it with me on my trip through Europe and was very much looking forward to a trip through space as well. But realised there was no space involved in the book. But again, a bunch of things bothered me.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artefact remains unsolved /…/

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the puzzle pieces are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Again there was the all-powerful project manager. This time a very unlikeable one with a lot of very professional cruelty. But my main problem where the “happy coincidences” that drove the plot. Of course, you need some of those to move a story forward, but it just didn’t work for me. I mean, props to the cruel project manager for spinning the worst shit into something usable, though.

Also, the book is no 1 in a series and felt too much like it. Nothing much actually happened besides laying the groundwork for the next one. No late nights of turning pages to find out where things are going.

I guess if I had taken it as more of a philosophical book with some sci-fi elements, it would have been a bit of a different read. So maybe I will give the next one in the series a chance as well, just with another mindset.

*But – I just finished the last Expanse book, so all is well in my sci-fi world 😀

PS! Have a look at our sci-fi shelf in the shop!