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Usurper of the Sun (Novel) by Housuke Nojiri

Usurper of the Sun (Novel) (2002)

by Housuke Nojiri

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914196,264 (3.35)2



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This has some interesting perspectives on the first contact theme, but as a novel I found it awkward and unbalanced. Most of the book is astronomy-heavy hard sci-fi acted out by characters whose internal and external dialogue are primarily awkward infodumps that are supposed to illustrate their genius-level expertise but just come out sounding like an unbearable freshman philosophy. Also, I found the character development of the lead, Aki, to be inconsistent at best. For example, her internal monologue veers from insistence on objective scientific analysis of all possibilities to the bewildering belief that her assumptions about a situation must be correct because her "intuition" has always guided her correctly previously. Perhaps something was lost in translation from the original, but like other reviewers, I don't get the hype about this. ( )
  jellyfishjones | Jan 13, 2019 |
Reading like "Rendezvous with Rama" filtered through "Blind Sight" by Peter Watts, the emphasis here is on the science and the concepts. This means that while Nojiri has succeeded in keeping to Greg Benford's dictum to "make it weird," the level of characterization feels very old school and I don't mean that in a good way. The exception would be in the character of Aki Shiraishi, and her drive to understand an extra-solar migration (even as it threatens human existence) is well rendered; though perhaps that is simply a function of me filling in the blanks from having watched a hundred or so anime series. I'm reluctant to say much more, as even though this novel (really a fix-up) is rather dry, it does evidence a lot of hard thought and so is worth reading on that basis. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Jun 29, 2011 |
Usurper of the Sun is a solid, but unspectacular, novel of first contact. I’d say it’s good reading but won’t win any awards, but I’d be wrong. It won Japan’s Seiun Award, so maybe my perception is a bit off. If this had been written 40 or 50 years ago when this style of science fiction writing was predominant, Nojiri’s work would be considered a classic. What we’ve come to expect from science fiction has changed quite a bit, so it feels quite dated. Not in technology, just in style. The technology described is still interesting, even a decade after its original publication as short stories in Japan.

Full review at my blog: http://reading.kingrat.biz/reviews/usurper-of-the-sun-housuke-nojiri ( )
1 vote KingRat | Feb 11, 2010 |
Peering through the astronomy club’s telescope, a Japanese schoolgirl is the first to observe a giant tower on the planet Mercury. When other observatories confirm its existence Aki Shiraishi becomes the most interviewed person on Earth. It propels her into a career in astronomy. When the tower begins to construct a ring around Mercury that blocks sunlight from reaching earth, climactic disaster shakes the planet and civilization is in chaos. Eight years after her initial discovery and as the most prominent scientist in the new field of ringology, Aki arrives at Johnson Space Center in Houston to train for the Vulcan Mission, a mission to send a spacecraft to Mercury to destroy the ring. ( )
  MaowangVater | Oct 17, 2009 |
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At dusk, the third day of the third month, in the fifty-seventh year of the Empire of the Great Ming, a farmer entered a teahouse.
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