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Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm

Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm, Kevin J. Anderson, Onyx Books, 2001

This novel is about exploring the body of an alien...from the inside.

During a Soviet military operation in Azerbaijan, an alien ship is shot down. Instead of handing the escape pod, with an alien inside, to the Soviet government, the Deputy Foreign Minister ships it to Project Proteus. It's a Top Secret base located in an isolated part of the California desert. They have found a new method of exploration, by miniaturizing people and machines to microscopic size.

The escape pod resists all scanning attempts (x-ray, MRI, CT scan), so a specially-built vessel, with a four-person crew, is shrunk and sent inside (by drilling a needle-sized hole in the view plate). Once inside, they find lots of nano-machines, who treat the vessel as food, a threat or as raw materials to build whatever they are building. The crew is in the middle of a running battle/chase scene to keep away from the nano-machines. Unknowingly, the crew finds an On switch, which, among other things, opens the escape pod.

On the outside, the nano-machines easily make the jump to the two physicians who are examining the alien's body. Within a few minutes, the nano-machines transform the physicians into aliens. If even one of those nano-machines gets loose, it will create others and they will turn all of humanity into aliens before Earth can mount any sort of defense.

Inside the alien, the crew has been running from the nano-machines for so long that they no longer know where they are. The shrinking effect lasts for only a few hours, so it is very much in their interests to find any sort of escape route. Once they exit the body, they learn what has happened to the tow doctors; the original alien has also woken up. Can they make it out of the sealed room, while staying away from the three aliens, and not let out any of the nano-machines, before returning to normal size?

In my experience, Kevin J. Anderson has always written strong, well-done stories, and this is no exception. A person could question some parts of the story, but, for those who are new to science fiction, or have never read the original Isaac Asimov novel, this book is well worth reading.  

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