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Review: Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt

When I first heard about Heaven’s Shadow I was extremely excited – who wouldn’t be, with a clever title like that, with a novel coming from the writer who brought us amazing new takes on Batman alongside Christopher Nolan? And more, it was Sci-Fi – a welcome break from all the Fantasy I had been reading.

Unfortunately the book didn’t live up to the hype I allowed it to gain in my mind – it’s not a terrible novel, but it is a novel that could have been so much better.

What’s wrong with it? Well, it seemed to me that I was reading a mash-up between Rendezvous with Rama, Rama II, Armageddon (the big-spectacle movie), and Apollo 13 (also the movie).

I say that because the formula seemed so similar – the first section of the book introduces the major characters, much as the major personalities were introduced in Armageddon: the introductions are pulled off well and the characters themselves are immediately interesting and entertaining (especially an astronaut who has had to raise a teenage daughter, I mean that in itself would make for an interesting novel!), but once the action starts the characters take their places a bit too nicely and fittingly; there just didn’t seem much room for surprise.

The action and storyline does a lot to save the book – but also led me to call to mind novels such as the first two Rama books and the movies I mentioned. There are some very well-done surprises in store for the reader, which I really enjoyed because I just didn’t see them coming, and where the characters go and what they go through held my attention and was actually pretty cool, but having read the Rama novels, I was able to make the connections, and then it just didn’t seem so cool anymore.

Like I said before, it wasn’t terrible, or even bad, or even mediocre – it was basically a re-treading of territory I’ve already enjoyed, and I was expecting something new and fresh and inventive. Now, having said that, I realize that there will be plenty of people who, in fact, haven’t read Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama Cycle, and you will probably enjoy this novel – forgetting the similarities between Heaven’s Shadow and the Rama Cycle, the book really is great: the characters take shape quickly and fully, the action is what you’d come to expect from Goyer (with a dash of JJ Abrams), the science was okay (and by okay I mean interesting enough that it didn’t steal the show but kept me wondering), the SF-aspect was interesting and begged many questions (especially as to where this trilogy might be heading), and the style of the writing is fast-paced and attention-holding.

I would aim this book at readers who haven’t yet read much SF – it’s light enough (in terms of subject matter and science) that it won’t break their heads and entertaining and quick enough to keep them turning the pages until they’re done; one of my friends who doesn’t read a lot of SF summed it up nicely by telling me that it wasn’t amazing or incredible but that she couldn’t put it down. 🙂 I do think, though, that well-read SF-readers (people who’ve read Hamilton, Asher, Reynolds, Ballantyne, Egan, Clarke and the like) won’t be really impressed by the book – in fact, they might even agree with me when I say that Heaven’s Shadow is more Hollywood-SF than novel-SF. (Not surprising, when I remember that the trilogy has already been optioned by Warner Brothers…)

I’ll definitely be back for the next two books, though – it’s just the kind of read that will be quick, entertaining and serves as a nice break when wanting to take a break from a particular non-SF genre.

7 / 10

To order your copies of Heaven’s Shadow, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and to order online in South Africa click here for Exclusive Books. You’ll also be able to order the book in-store – stock should be arriving any time now from the UK, brought to us thanks to Pan Macmillan SA. 🙂

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Totally Tor: Heaven’s Shadow & The Walking Dead

Some great and exciting news from Tor UK via Chloe Healey:

Press Release 18th October 2010 – Tor UK announces two exciting new acquisitions

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HEAVEN’S SHADOW

From filmmaker/writer/producer David S. Goyer and author Michael Cassutt comes The Heavens Trilogy, an epic science fiction/adventure series that finds mankind fighting for survival in a new world plagued by an alien menace. Heaven’s Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined…

David S. Goyer is a screenwriter, film director and comic book writer. He has written several screenplays based on numerous comic book series, among them Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Flash. He is currently working on writing the third instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film series and the new Superman movie. Michael Cassutt is a television producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes producing or writing, or both, for The Outer Limits, Eerie Indiana , Beverly Hills 90210, and The Twilight Zone.

The first book has already received high praise from Guillermo Del Toro, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Strain and writer-director of Pan’s Labyrinth: ‘David Goyer always delivers thoroughly imagined, minutely researched worlds, spun around the most outlandish premises. Goyer acknowledges and understands genre while turning it over its head in this trippy, pulse-pounding tale’. The film rights to the trilogy have been optioned to Warner Bros in a seven figure deal.

Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights in the trilogy from Penguin US in a mid-Frankfurt deal. ‘Heaven’s Shadow reads like Michael Crichton channelling Arthur C Clarke. It’s everything I loved about science fiction written in the 1950s bought up-to-date for a contemporary audience. We’re thrilled to add such an exciting trilogy and these hugely talented authors to the Tor UK list’.

The first book in the trilogy HEAVEN’S SHADOW will be published in hardback in July 2011.

THE WALKING DEAD
Tor UK recently pre-empted a trilogy of zombie novels based on Robert Kirkman’s successful and critically acclaimed Walking Dead comic book series. The books were acquired in a mid-Frankfurt deal by Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, from Thomas Dunne books in the US . A TV series based on the comics will be released in the US on the AMC network on 31st October 2010 and on the FX channel in the UK on 5th November 2010. The series, starring UK’s Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, Teachers and This Life) and written, directed and produced by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile), follows small town sheriff Rick Grimes as he travels across a post-apocalyptic US plagued by zombies in an attempt to find his wife and son. Watch the The Walking Dead trailer:

Based on entirely new stories, Robert Kirkman is co-writing the books with horror novelist Jay Bonansinga, author of Perfect Victim and Shattered. The first book, The Walking Dead, will be released in November 2012 alongside the second season of the TV series.

Julie Crisp said, ‘From George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead through to Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead, Zombies have always held a unique place in contemporary culture. Robert Kirkman has offered a fresh and exciting perspective on the zombie storyline through his series of comics and Tor UK is hugely excited to be able to work with him on the novelizations based on the world and characters he created in The Walking Dead’.

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Very exciting stuff! The Walking Dead is still something that needs to grow on me (when I watched the trailer for the incoming TV series I honestly thought, “Okay, we’ve seen this all before, what’s the fuss all about?”) and I admittedly haven’t read the comics, but I’m very excited for Heaven’s Shadow – David Goyer has proved that he can write awesome scripts and it’ll be interesting see what this project can come up with. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Announcements, Totally Tor

 

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