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At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars. In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars. In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative says he disobeyed orders, but his crew swears he’s in the right. En route to Mars, Park gathers testimony from the Aldrin’s diverse crew, painting a complex picture of Aames’s character: his heroism, his failures, even his personal passions. As the investigation unfolds, Park finds herself in the thrall of powerful interests, each pushing and pulling her in a fiery cosmic dance. Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness, and Park faces danger from every direction. All eyes are on her: one way or another, her findings will have astronomical implications for the Aldrin and the future of space travel.


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At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars. In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars. In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative says he disobeyed orders, but his crew swears he’s in the right. En route to Mars, Park gathers testimony from the Aldrin’s diverse crew, painting a complex picture of Aames’s character: his heroism, his failures, even his personal passions. As the investigation unfolds, Park finds herself in the thrall of powerful interests, each pushing and pulling her in a fiery cosmic dance. Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness, and Park faces danger from every direction. All eyes are on her: one way or another, her findings will have astronomical implications for the Aldrin and the future of space travel.

30 review for The Last Dance

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    Review of Kindle edition Publication date: November 1, 2019 Publisher: 47North Language: English ASIN: B07KS83CGJ 456 pages This novel is hard sci-fi similar to that which I used to read in the 1960's and 70's. Rather than very distant future science, the technical details are based on logical advances in current science, particularly some work by famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Even with the emphasis on hard science, the story line and character development are not neglected. There is a fascinating cas Review of Kindle edition Publication date: November 1, 2019 Publisher: 47North Language: English ASIN: B07KS83CGJ 456 pages This novel is hard sci-fi similar to that which I used to read in the 1960's and 70's. Rather than very distant future science, the technical details are based on logical advances in current science, particularly some work by famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Even with the emphasis on hard science, the story line and character development are not neglected. There is a fascinating cast of characters, including one of the most competent yet difficult commanding officers in fiction. The story centers around charges of disobedience of orders and mutiny against Captain Aames by his enemies who seem to be legion and include the admirals and political types who command the System Initiative. Only the inspector general's office and their conscientious investigator and their commanding admiral can possible prevent the destruction of Captain Aames and his crew. But what if they decide the evidence against Aames really is overwhelming? What if they decide for Aames? Either decision seems likely to ignite a firestorm of one kind or another and may lead to violence. Indeed some violence erupts simply from the tensions arising during the investigation. Mr. Shoemaker has a way with words which makes reading this book enjoyable. His ability to develop both characters and plot keep it interesting. The only real downside is that there may be too much science detail with lengthy descriptions to interest some readers. I believe that such readers can easily skim a lot of this without losing the thread of the story. And it is a story worth reading though, perhaps, overly long for some tastes.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    An excellent novel - I got it absolutely by chance as it featured in the Amazon prime email with the selection for the beginning of the month free prime book (which I generally ignore as I already have enough books on deck so to speak...), but the title, synopsis, and cover of this one attracted my attention and then I saw some very enthusiastic reviews, so I decided to give it a try and while the first few pages are kind of boring and almost made me put it aside, I did my usual routine on promi An excellent novel - I got it absolutely by chance as it featured in the Amazon prime email with the selection for the beginning of the month free prime book (which I generally ignore as I already have enough books on deck so to speak...), but the title, synopsis, and cover of this one attracted my attention and then I saw some very enthusiastic reviews, so I decided to give it a try and while the first few pages are kind of boring and almost made me put it aside, I did my usual routine on promising books that do not hook me early and started browsing every few pages at random and immediately the novel hooked me with the first story of the doctor and from then on it indeed became a novel not to be put down unless there is no other choice and I finished it in two sittings. The narration mostly alternates between the Inspector General Park Yerim investigating the supposed mutiny on Aldrin and various characters recounting their most memorable past experiences with the presumed leader of the mutiny, Aldrin's captain Nicolau Aames though it eventually gets to the present, the events leading here and their resolution. I definitely do not want to spoil anything more since except for the ending which is sort of telegraphed maybe 50 pages before, the book keeps throwing surprises and hard science sf at the reader in a way I haven't seen in a while, way that reminded me why I love sf and at least used to read 100 novels in the genre a year a while ago. The only weakness (except for the boring first few pages) is the somewhat telegraphed ending, though it definitely was a cool and appropriate one and as the novel is advertised as a first volume (though it is self-contained) I definitely hope there will be more in this milieu and I would eagerly get them asap this time considering how impressive The Last dance was. Highly, highly recommended and a top 10 of the year

  3. 4 out of 5

    Guy Marsden

    Good story but structural flaws bugged me. Every chapter begins from the perspective of a character as if they are sharing their experience verbally but the writing style does not support this. It jumps to omniscient 3rd person and each character sounds just like the last. So for the first page or 2 of each chapter I struggled with willing suspension. It really got in the way of a fluid read. Also every character male, female, British or Brazilian spoke in the same "voice" - that of an average wh Good story but structural flaws bugged me. Every chapter begins from the perspective of a character as if they are sharing their experience verbally but the writing style does not support this. It jumps to omniscient 3rd person and each character sounds just like the last. So for the first page or 2 of each chapter I struggled with willing suspension. It really got in the way of a fluid read. Also every character male, female, British or Brazilian spoke in the same "voice" - that of an average white guy, so they all blended together for me. Nonetheless I read all the way through and the story moved forward at a good clip and the science was credible which was a plus.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Lynne

    Got my geek on. A multi-POV tale of a Mars-bound mutiny . . . or was it? Bonus points for diverse cast. The story is primarily told during "off the record" crew interviews about Capt. Nick Aames so that investigator Park Yerim can gain background on the personality and person of the accused. I found the second such "deposition" - that of Bosun Smitty, to track way into the technical weeds - Literally the nuts and bolts of a particular incident. Those pages read more like The Martian's "science t Got my geek on. A multi-POV tale of a Mars-bound mutiny . . . or was it? Bonus points for diverse cast. The story is primarily told during "off the record" crew interviews about Capt. Nick Aames so that investigator Park Yerim can gain background on the personality and person of the accused. I found the second such "deposition" - that of Bosun Smitty, to track way into the technical weeds - Literally the nuts and bolts of a particular incident. Those pages read more like The Martian's "science the **** out of it" voice and less of the character-driven story which had me fully hooked up to that point. Confess to skimming whole chunks of this section. (Not that I mind nuts and bolts, just that in this story it didn't integrate well - I found myself asking over & over, "And these details give Yerim insight into Aames how exactly?") Still, a good read with a wholly satisfying ending.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    The last time I enjoyed a new science fiction author this much was when I read Leviathan Wakes. Like that book, this one feels like something from the Golden Age of Science fiction, while being something brand new. Inspector General Park conducts a series of "off the record" interviews while investigating charges of mutiny against the captain of a Martian-bound spaceship. That's the framework for a series of stories that range from mystery to Martian survival to estranged love. All are building b The last time I enjoyed a new science fiction author this much was when I read Leviathan Wakes. Like that book, this one feels like something from the Golden Age of Science fiction, while being something brand new. Inspector General Park conducts a series of "off the record" interviews while investigating charges of mutiny against the captain of a Martian-bound spaceship. That's the framework for a series of stories that range from mystery to Martian survival to estranged love. All are building blocks in the overall question of figuring out the accused captain's motivations and guilt or innocence. It's space opera in fine form. I burned through this in two days and am already looking forward to the second in the series, though I'll have to wait a year for it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    I can't remember where I picked this one up on my Kindle. It is the first one by Martin L. Shoemaker I have read and it won't be the last. Wonderful space opera with varied and compelling characters, a complex plot and it introduced me to some new Brazilian music. Always a plus.

  7. 5 out of 5

    William

    Starts well, but then gets very dull indeed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riki

    You care so you finish but Good characters you care about them and want to know how it all ends up. But very long winded and the stories within the story become repetitive, too detailed for the purpose they serve ( opinions will vary in this i am sure) and too many. Found myself page scanning not reading until the last chapter. Do recommend this read but it gets tedious feel free to fast forward.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dave C

    Good Reading I enjoyed this book. The author did an excellent job of creating characters whose stories came to life via an effective combination of introspective thoughts, off the record conversations and formal depositions. The setting of the “Express train” between Earth and Mars was described in the very first chapter showing where this was based on astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s plan “Cyclic Trajectory Concepts,” published in 1985. I admit that I didn’t really understand the concept after reading ch Good Reading I enjoyed this book. The author did an excellent job of creating characters whose stories came to life via an effective combination of introspective thoughts, off the record conversations and formal depositions. The setting of the “Express train” between Earth and Mars was described in the very first chapter showing where this was based on astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s plan “Cyclic Trajectory Concepts,” published in 1985. I admit that I didn’t really understand the concept after reading chapter 1. By the time I finished the book, I understood it completely and can see why it’s a viable concept that is currently being discussed and considered. The author did a wonderful job of creating this setting and bringing it to life from both a scientific and a personal perspective. As I read chapter 2, I kept thinking I knew this story and had seen it elsewhere; but I couldn’t remember where. It took a little digging through my Kindle when I discovered Chapter 2 previously Appeared as the short story “Racing to Mars” from the authors collection of short stories “Blue Collar Space”. It seems strange that I couldn’t find any reference to this in the authors notes or any other part of the book. there is a reference to another short story from that same collection regarding the first landing on Mars. I see there is another pending book from the same author associated with this story. While this book does have a concrete conclusion and there is no real need to read another, I would add it to my reading queue when it arrives as the setting and characters are all interesting and worth keeping track of.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roger Jackson

    The Last Dance is an excellent science fiction and suspense novel. To me, there really was not a "mystery", so I'm not sure why that it is the subtitle. Don't go into this book expecting some big twist in the plot, or a grand mystery to solve. However, if you like science fiction, then the science it good. If you like political suspense, then you will like this for sure. The writing is excellent. The plot is good, but not the main focus. This is a character driven story, which I prefer. The use o The Last Dance is an excellent science fiction and suspense novel. To me, there really was not a "mystery", so I'm not sure why that it is the subtitle. Don't go into this book expecting some big twist in the plot, or a grand mystery to solve. However, if you like science fiction, then the science it good. If you like political suspense, then you will like this for sure. The writing is excellent. The plot is good, but not the main focus. This is a character driven story, which I prefer. The use of flashbacks to explain the current situation was done very well. A strong 4+ star effort.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    2019 grade Z I actually tried to read this several times but never got past the first page. This time I put more effort into it. I still only finished 2% the book. It is such dedicated first person POV that it took me a while to even learn the gender of the protagonist (I don't care which gender but I need at least a small mental image.) Virtually every paragraph is a long boring information dump. The setting is depressing as are the characters. Sorry, I did not like it. Thankfully is was free.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    A series of shorts tied together well I hope there are more Near-Earth mysteries because this was a great background universe and the characters totally pop. The characters each have a nicely written backstory and the dialogue develops the characters. Well put together book with a neat background universe. I'm looking at his other books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie W

    Abandoned this novel at 18% (beginning of Chapter Four). By the time I abandoned this, there was still no clear main character. Two of the three chapters I read (chapters one and three) were first person POV of the supposed main character, but we learn almost nothing about her. She's 'obsessed' (because it's her job) with finding out what she can about Captain Aames (the other potential main character). The entirety of the very long second chapter is told from the point of view of a supporting cha Abandoned this novel at 18% (beginning of Chapter Four). By the time I abandoned this, there was still no clear main character. Two of the three chapters I read (chapters one and three) were first person POV of the supposed main character, but we learn almost nothing about her. She's 'obsessed' (because it's her job) with finding out what she can about Captain Aames (the other potential main character). The entirety of the very long second chapter is told from the point of view of a supporting character, about a young man on board the ship years ago, and Captain Aames. The story is of how the young man grew from a surly, insolent, entitled know-it-all to a hard-working and fit person of intellect and character. I'm exaggerating a little to highlight how the chapter got you rooting for and invested in a character that, as far as I know, will not show up again except for a single line in the next chapter. That's a lot of exposition, and a lot of character building, for a minor passing character, in order to try and teach you a little something about some other character. It was after this chapter that I was already thinking I was bored and completely uninvested in the characters I was probably supposed to be invested in. Then Chapter 4 starts and we're back to a similar writing device: a minor character is going to tell a story, from his point of view, about Captain Aames, from years ago. It starts with introducing some other character who we will probably never meet except in this retelling. I just couldn't. I didn't care about Aames and whether he's as horrible as the complaints make him out to be. I didn't care if he was insubordinate and whether he stayed as Captain or left. And I really didn't care about the woman investigating these charges. None of it was intriguing; there was a strange discrepancy of having too much detail about what didn't matter and yet not nearly enough about what did. It's a shame because the sci-fi setting and concept of the Aldrin cycler were promising.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ellie at BookBucket

    https://book-bucket.com/2020/05/22/th... Rounded up to 4.5 stars. The story is centred around General Inspector Park Yerim, on whose shoulders it has fallen to investigate allegations of mutiny brought against spaceship Captain Nick Aames. The story is told predominantly through a series of 'off-the-record' accounts by crew members of previous events in which the captain played major parts. It is through these accounts that the investigator and the reader come to form an understanding of the compl https://book-bucket.com/2020/05/22/th... Rounded up to 4.5 stars. The story is centred around General Inspector Park Yerim, on whose shoulders it has fallen to investigate allegations of mutiny brought against spaceship Captain Nick Aames. The story is told predominantly through a series of 'off-the-record' accounts by crew members of previous events in which the captain played major parts. It is through these accounts that the investigator and the reader come to form an understanding of the complex character of Captain Aames. Interspersed with these accounts the story reverts to the present and the investigation. Inspector Parks is in a difficult position - under pressure from all sides and finding herself being stonewalled and under threat. Each account is almost a short story in itself and very interesting. The writing, dialogue, character-building and scene-setting were all brilliantly done. And I loved the very ending despite guessing it. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. This author was previously unknown to me, but I will now be looking up his back-catalogue.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Coble

    This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Ever. I have that list of perfect books—those books that make you so so happy you spent time in that world. Rothfuss, GRRM, JKRowling, Both Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga and World of the Five Gods. Blood Song. Megan Whalen Turner. I’ll add this one to that list eagerly and happily because this is honestly a _WONDERFUL_ book. It’s a terrific story that is magnificently told. Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it is a book about i This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Ever. I have that list of perfect books—those books that make you so so happy you spent time in that world. Rothfuss, GRRM, JKRowling, Both Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga and World of the Five Gods. Blood Song. Megan Whalen Turner. I’ll add this one to that list eagerly and happily because this is honestly a _WONDERFUL_ book. It’s a terrific story that is magnificently told. Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it is a book about integrity, featuring a lot of big and small stories about how to behave with integrity. There are some of the best characters I’ve ever met on these pages and I hope you come to love them as I do.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linwood Ferguson

    This was one of the most unique science fiction books I have read lately. It is reminiscent of some older Asimov sci-fi mysteries, modernized both in terms of science and more sophisticated in terms of society. Well rooted in science and a realistic space faring period, it avoids entirely some semi-magical late-breaking scientific solution, and instead develops characters deeply and generally realistically (I might argue that despite carefully built foundation the main character is still a bit d This was one of the most unique science fiction books I have read lately. It is reminiscent of some older Asimov sci-fi mysteries, modernized both in terms of science and more sophisticated in terms of society. Well rooted in science and a realistic space faring period, it avoids entirely some semi-magical late-breaking scientific solution, and instead develops characters deeply and generally realistically (I might argue that despite carefully built foundation the main character is still a bit difficult to believe, though). Told largely with flashbacks they are carefully integrated and reveal at a pace that seems natural, but is far strongly than a chronological telling would be. After suffering through a ton of recent Amazon sci-fi authors, and discovering only repetition in many, this was both a surprise and a pleasure.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Petesea

    Really good book, but Aames is too much. Not only is he the smartest guy in the room, he is the smartest on the entire ship. The concept for the Aldrin is really cool, I wonder if it will come to fruition and make Mars travel a little easier and way more fuel efficient. I liked the way the book was structured and appreciated Aames’ high expectations, but I wish that he was more imperfect and did not have ALL the answers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    A.davis

    Humans being human, in space. An intelligent detective interviews a ship's crew concerning their abrasive and talented captain. Stories told by friends and enemies assist the detective and reader in making a judgement. It was fun read. I'll purchase more shoemaker stories for sure. This book would make a great tv show!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcos

    Brilliant! Hard science fiction, narrated by a genuine novelist. An exceptional piece of uncommon quality for this genre. A very pleasant surprise.

  20. 5 out of 5

    George1st

    I'm not a regular reader of science fiction but what I'm looking for when I do read it is to encounter imagination, entertainment and hopefully if I'm lucky to gain a little knowledge. On all three counts Martin L Shoemaker has succeeded here. Reading from the author's notes and biography it is clear that he is well versed on the mechanics and requirements of space travel to Mars, indeed he describes himself as "a programmer who writes on the side." From this technical basis he has used his imagi I'm not a regular reader of science fiction but what I'm looking for when I do read it is to encounter imagination, entertainment and hopefully if I'm lucky to gain a little knowledge. On all three counts Martin L Shoemaker has succeeded here. Reading from the author's notes and biography it is clear that he is well versed on the mechanics and requirements of space travel to Mars, indeed he describes himself as "a programmer who writes on the side." From this technical basis he has used his imagination to envisage how later in the 21st Century space travel to Mars might look. However at the heart of the book is an examination of some pretty basic human attributes including greed, duplicity, power, loyalty and trust. Of all it is the latter that predominates in this story for ultimately it is the most important thing that one must have in others and especially the captain of a vessel as it leaves the Earth for outer space. The plot revolves around the investigation of General Park Yerim into an alleged mutiny on board the Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin by Captain Nicolau Aames. Through the testimonies of fellow crew members a picture emerges not only of the enigmatic captain in all his complexities but also the commercial and vested interests that are so keen to secure a conviction. This may be a long book but once into the story it becomes increasingly engrossing and it has that readable factor that perhaps some titles of this genre sometimes lack. At no time did I think that the concepts and plot lines were unrealistic and not possible. If you are a bit wary of science fiction then you need not be put off by this book and I'm sure it will delight both regular readers of this genre and those who are not.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leo

    Character study of an old grumpy, stickler for rules, captain. This was an algorithm generated recommendation from Amazon. After reading a few of the reviews others posted on it, I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised. This isn't your typical sci-fi novel. If anything the space and science is simply there to propel the novel true intentions, which is a character study of Nick Asked. Story is broken up into sections of IG Yerim investigation on Earth-Mars space ship Aldrin. An ev Character study of an old grumpy, stickler for rules, captain. This was an algorithm generated recommendation from Amazon. After reading a few of the reviews others posted on it, I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised. This isn't your typical sci-fi novel. If anything the space and science is simply there to propel the novel true intentions, which is a character study of Nick Asked. Story is broken up into sections of IG Yerim investigation on Earth-Mars space ship Aldrin. An event took place prior to the begining of the story, and each chapter took us closer into finding out what happened and how key members within the crew handled it. That said, Aames was never far from their decision and rationale for actions taken, effectively making this book a character study of Aames himself and how his influenced if felt by those around him. If you find procedure books, and step by step guides boring, then this book is probably not for you. Even I struggled to get through certain chapters, mostly towards the end; mostly because it felt like nothing new was being introduced that added any additional refinement to Aames' character. Author also had a habit of repeating lines used by different characters to described Aames. This made the book feel like it stalled out around chapter 9 until the last IG investigation summary chapter. Despite this pacing issue, I still enjoyed the book, and now worry that the Amazon bots are getting to know me a little too well. ;-)

  22. 4 out of 5

    J FRANKS

    Couldn't put it down Great science fiction. Good plot, good science, good characters. What more can you ask for? The ending is a bit too easy but still works.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angele Florisi

    This Was Just Awful This was such a disjointed and disappointing waste of reading time. You aren’t even introduced to the basis for the story until you’re 80% into the book. The characters are almost all thoroughly unlikable, it’s more a bunch of independent writing exercises than a well constructed novel that was worth what I paid for it — nothing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Eisenhauer

    2 1/2 stars. I'm not really sure why I continued reading this book even though I obviously wasn't enjoying it. I wasn't a fan of how the story was told and struggled to find much if anything to like about many of the characters.

  25. 4 out of 5

    S.G. Willoughby

    I'm not sure how to rate this. On the one hand, this was some pretty GREAT writing. On the other hand, there was some immoral content that I strongly object to. Likes: -The world-building! There was a lot of very technical concepts and words in this book, but I loved it! I loved how much it was based on real-world theories and the fact that the author worked for NASA (if I'm not mistaken) certainly didn't hurt the believability of it all. All the small details were what really got me. Like how san I'm not sure how to rate this. On the one hand, this was some pretty GREAT writing. On the other hand, there was some immoral content that I strongly object to. Likes: -The world-building! There was a lot of very technical concepts and words in this book, but I loved it! I loved how much it was based on real-world theories and the fact that the author worked for NASA (if I'm not mistaken) certainly didn't hurt the believability of it all. All the small details were what really got me. Like how sand falls different on Earth than the moon than Mars. So cool. -The characters. Each was unique and well-rounded, and there was a LOT of MCs, yet the author handled it well. Honestly, this was almost a collection of short stories... yet the thread that held them together did its job. Amazing, really, how the author took something like an investigation that could seem pretty boring and made it anything but. -The MC. Okay, I'm not sure if you'd count Captain Aames or Inspector General Yermin as the MC, but I think it's Aames. Aames was SUCH a fascinating character, and the roundabout way he was presented to the reader made him even more so. I know I would not have survived the testing and become a crew member, I would have broke. He would have broken me. But as a reader, as unlikeable as he's painted to be, I couldn't help but like him and root for him. And I loved the various viewpoints we got and even the way the backstory was portrayed. -The outsider's perspective -The fact that every single person except the reader knew the details of the investigation -The satisfying length Things I disliked: -The "the last dance" theme didn't seem to play into the first part of the book much. Part of me suspects that the author didn't land on that theme until they got further in while writing... but that's just speculation. Either way, I think it could have been woven into it better. -The questionable content below. :( Questionable Content: Language: Strong language throughout. To be completely fair, the author used it mostly in very tense or emotional situations where cussing was just human. And it did seem to come primarily e from certain characters. But still, could have done without all that. Blacking out those words wouldn't hurt your understanding of the story at all. Sexual content: Nothing on-screen. It's never said outright or even directly implied, but you know there are couples having sex outside of marriage. There is some cuddling on-screen. A man leers at a woman. A woman admires a man's muscles. Romance: A good bit of romance, but it never felt overpowering... just like a subplot. Gore: Blood. Bad burns. Vomiting. Violence: Some fistfights. Disturbing content: Um... yeah, lots. There was one story in particular that really got me. And I don't generally have a weak stomach about this stuff. Let's see... there was an amputation, attempted suicide (trying to sacrifice themselves for everyone else), someone trapped in the dark under sand and debris, people getting burned (most survive), and probably other stuff I don't remember. Other: A character (possibly two, I'm still not sure) was gay and talked referenced it a few times. -

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul DiBara

    A story set in a future very close at hand. In the expanse between Earth and Mars is an expanding technological vessel, Aldrin, composed of tubes, spokes, and artificial gravity that is hanging together based on the brains, brawn, bravery and shear tenacity of the engineers, technicians and support personnel who keep everything working according to plan. This entire complex is also a traveling community with the purpose of moving people and material between the earth and a new outpost of humanit A story set in a future very close at hand. In the expanse between Earth and Mars is an expanding technological vessel, Aldrin, composed of tubes, spokes, and artificial gravity that is hanging together based on the brains, brawn, bravery and shear tenacity of the engineers, technicians and support personnel who keep everything working according to plan. This entire complex is also a traveling community with the purpose of moving people and material between the earth and a new outpost of humanity on our sister planet, Mars. That is the setting. The story is as complex as the technology and the trajectory of the massive vessel itself. With virtually no margin for error a commander with extreme organizational talents is needed to keep building and moving. Captain Nicolau Aames is the hard minded man in the hot-seat in more ways than one. Despite his safety record and ability to achieve all technological goals he did not endear himself to his crew or his superiors. In fact, he has been charged with mutiny. But wait! His crew rallies to his side. No one loves him but they all respect him and most believe they have become better people and more competent in their vocations because of his stern and no-nonsense ways. On the other hand his superiors and peers regard him as a renegade and egotist who believes himself superior to all others. Enter General Park Yerim, Inspector General. She has been charged with investigating the circumstances and is fully expected to come down hard on the captain. While Captain Aames is charged with mutiny, should IG Yerim charge him, his crew, who run the vessel Aldrin may mutiny en mass. The narrative is focused on the efforts of IG Yerim to undercover the facts and beyond that, to determine what makes Captain Aames tick - and why his crew is so loyal. This is not a dry recitation of facts but rather an exploration of personalities. There are also episodes of drama, violence and near catastrophe. I enjoyed it enormously.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jak60

    In the sea of sameness which is the contemporary science fiction literature, I think a certain degree of originality must be recognised to The Last Dance. But it is not an originality which comes flawlessly as the author takes some risks to this end and not all pay back fully. I'll review this book along the three typical pillars of a Sci-Fi novel: PLOT: it's good, in my opinion, and told in a rather intriguing fashion, i.e. as an investigation of an alleged mutiny aboard a spaceship shuttling bet In the sea of sameness which is the contemporary science fiction literature, I think a certain degree of originality must be recognised to The Last Dance. But it is not an originality which comes flawlessly as the author takes some risks to this end and not all pay back fully. I'll review this book along the three typical pillars of a Sci-Fi novel: PLOT: it's good, in my opinion, and told in a rather intriguing fashion, i.e. as an investigation of an alleged mutiny aboard a spaceship shuttling between Earth and Mars; however the price you pay for such unconventional storytelling is that the plot loses cohesiveness, as it unfolds through a number of fragmented stories collected in the form of depositions of various witnesses to the chief inspector CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: the book tries hard in this area and it almost succeeds, if it were not for the very central feature of the protagonist. Enter Captain Nick Aames, a self-righteous, arrogant, egocentric ass-hole, an annoyingly fastidious Mr I-Know-It-All, lacking the minimal emotional intelligence, so obtuse in his compulsive obsession of doing always the right thing to become a fanatic; such a character cannot plausibly be what he is supposed to be in the book. WORLD BUILDING: given the prominence of the above two factors, the book could not physically give too much space to this one; and it is in a way a wasted opportunity, as the story sows some interesting seeds in this area, i.e. the interactions between various space organisations: the System Initiative, the Space Professionals, the Admiralty, etc., but it does not take the time to develop them in full; and it's a shame as it made me want to know more about the politics of these entities but it just left it hanging it the air.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    Four and a half stars, rounded up. This is a well plotted near-future sci-fi story, grounded in very believable space science and orbital mechanics. I especially appreciated the description of Buzz Aldrin’s “Mars cycler” concept for a practical and affordable path to moving material and people between Mars and Earth in support of a viable economy. The story delivers fast-moving events without getting bogged down in descriptions of scientific details. The characters are varied and individual, the Four and a half stars, rounded up. This is a well plotted near-future sci-fi story, grounded in very believable space science and orbital mechanics. I especially appreciated the description of Buzz Aldrin’s “Mars cycler” concept for a practical and affordable path to moving material and people between Mars and Earth in support of a viable economy. The story delivers fast-moving events without getting bogged down in descriptions of scientific details. The characters are varied and individual, the conflict is highly plausible. My only quibble with the story is the handling of point of view. The story is told in the first person by the Investigator, who is interviewing witnesses about a possible mutiny. Alternating chapters are accounts (most of them informally “off the record”) told in the first person by different witnesses. The switching of points of view as each narrator relates a chapter, broken occasionally by the Investigator, also in the first person, is a little confusing, and the witness monologues are somewhat stilted, missing the normal rhythms and language you expect to hear when someone is telling you a story. But this is a minor quibble… I stayed up into the wee hours to finish this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    LTC Larry Davis

    Captivating tale where details matter Showmaker has created a wonderful novel here, focusing on how one man's obsession with details and being right actually becomes the unifying force behind a team of space explorers. Capt. Nick Aames tended to alienate lots of folks, but those who measured up to his high standards of performance found themselves to be part of community of trust, a group where everyone had a vested interest in trusting others. And it's Aames' obsession with being right that caus Captivating tale where details matter Showmaker has created a wonderful novel here, focusing on how one man's obsession with details and being right actually becomes the unifying force behind a team of space explorers. Capt. Nick Aames tended to alienate lots of folks, but those who measured up to his high standards of performance found themselves to be part of community of trust, a group where everyone had a vested interest in trusting others. And it's Aames' obsession with being right that causes all his troubles. However, this novel takes you on an exploration of what drives the human soul and helps you to understand that each of us becomes who we are by a lifetime of experiences and interactions, a body of choices where we learn from the consequences, and sometimes we learn that there are times when it's okay to be wrong - for the right reasons. I truly enjoyed Shoemaker's story of Capt. James and look forward to more from both of them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Shaffer

    This was a refreshing read after the last two books I read, also solar system near-future sci-fi. This is an author who is good with creating sympathy for unlikeable characters without making them any less unlikeable. This is an art--a previous book I read just made the reader as miserable as the characters and was painful to read. Also, this book has a good handle on the science and mechanics of space exploration. This book got a bit long-winded in places, dragging the reader through unnecessary This was a refreshing read after the last two books I read, also solar system near-future sci-fi. This is an author who is good with creating sympathy for unlikeable characters without making them any less unlikeable. This is an art--a previous book I read just made the reader as miserable as the characters and was painful to read. Also, this book has a good handle on the science and mechanics of space exploration. This book got a bit long-winded in places, dragging the reader through unnecessary detail, but that's a downside, I guess of having a strong sense of one's characters and story world.

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