Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review & Contest: The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski


Ready for a challenging read that pays dividends in the end? Today, I’m looking at a YA-science fiction-dystopian-futuristic hybrid that will kind of make your head explode but then pulls it back together again like you're Humpty Dumpty: The Highest Frontier, by Joan Slonczewski. Want to win a copy? Read on…

THE OFFICIAL BLURB: One of the most respected writers of hard SF, it has been more than ten years since Joan Slonczewski's last novel. Now she returns with a spectacular tour de force of the college of the future, in orbit. Jennifer Ramos Kennedy, a girl from a rich and politically influential family (a distant relation descended from the famous Kennedy clan), whose twin brother has died in an accident and left her bereft, is about to enter her freshman year at Frontera College.
       Frontera is an exciting school built with media money, and a bit from tribal casinos too, dedicated to educating the best and brightest of this future world. We accompany Jenny as she proceeds through her early days at school, encountering surprises and wonders and some unpleasant problems. The Earth is altered by global warming, and an invasive alien species called ultraphytes threatens the surviving ecosystem. Jenny is being raised for great things, but while she's in school she just wants to do her homework, go on a few dates, and get by. The world that Jenny is living in is one of the most fascinating and creative in contemporary SF, and the problems Jenny faces will involve every reader, young and old.



MY THOUGHTS: So, on the surface this is a coming-of-age tale as Jenny heads off to college. Of course campus is in space, and you get there by climbing towers of anthrax, and there’s the inevitable alien roommate, and potential for space station disaster. And of course everyone’s out to get you. You know, college stuff.
            Joan Slonczewski is a new author for me, so my only expectation (read: fear) was that, as a microbiologist, she’d be writing such hard science I couldn’t get into it. Fortunately, she doesn’t neglect the character-building aspects of her story. Jenny is likeable and sympathetic as our heroine.
            But the worldbuilding is where The Highest Frontier shines for me. There’s the whole ecological disaster that’s made big swaths of Earth uninhabitable (and the habitable parts are downright challenging). There are alien lifeforms that seem bent on eliminating those pesky humans. The “taxplayers” and casinos pay for government programs, and the kids even have a Quidditch equivalent in Slanball.
            This isn’t a fast read, it’s certainly not a mindless escape of a read, but it is a satisfying read, especially if you like complex dystopian worlds with a few aliens thrown in.

THE GIVEAWAY: Want to win a copy of The Highest Frontier? Tell me your favorite alien book or movie. I’m a big fan of “Independence Day”! You know the routine: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet or a like on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Johnson.author.

26 comments:

  1. Favorite alien movie, hmm well there's Alien and Predator and The Thing. And so many more!

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower

    moecatj[at]msn[dot]com

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  2. I like Independence Day too but my favorite "It Came From Outerspace" movie is the original version of The Blob.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    sgiden at verizon.net

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  3. Favorite alien book is Crisis on Doona by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye - but Independence Day is an awesome movie. Bill Pullman's cheesey, "Today is our Independence Day" gives me shivers, despite the cheese factor.
    +1 comment
    +1 twitter follower (chy32)
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    cwrydbom[at]knology[dot]net

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  4. Alien is the scariest alien movie I've seen, as for the books, Gini Koch series is quite good.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

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  5. My favorite alien book is Grimspace by Ann Aguire.

    +1 comment

    Glassheart18ca@hotmail.com

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  6. I love books by Gini Koch. Her Kitty Katt series is so much fun! And I have a girl crush on main heroine.
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower as Sofija Kapranova
    +1 twitter follower as @soni_sonik

    kapranova.sofija@gmail.com

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  7. My favorite alien movie is The War of The Worlds. I like Independence day, too! Thanks for the giveaway. Book looks great. :)

    +1 Comment
    +1 Blog Follow: GFC name is Sam Bella
    +1 Twitter Follow: @SamBella10
    +1 Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/SamBella10/status/128887944940494849

    sambella10@hotmail.co.uk

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  8. Hands down, The Fifth Element is my favorite alien movie. It was so campy & just plain entertaining!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    jennhutson3128 at yahoo dot com

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  9. E.T.! What a cutie and it wasn't scary but heartwarming. I don't read a lot of dystopian and futuristic book so thank you for the chance.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follow
    +1 twitter follow (FieryNa)

    Cambonified{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  10. I love Alien vs Predator. It is awesome! I also liked the movie I am Number Four.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower.
    k_anon[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk

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  11. I can't just name one favorite alien movie/TV series and these are probably going to sound strange to you but I truly love them

    I would have to say ET for the movie and Alf for a TV series !

    See I told you they are unusual.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I had never heard of the author but your review has whetted my appetite to read the book.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    +1 for comment
    +1 I Follow via GFC - buddyt

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  12. X Files for me :D

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follow
    +1 twitter follow

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  13. ET even though I was readlly scared by it when I was a kid.

    +1 comment
    +1 twitter follower
    +1 blog follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

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  14. My favorite alien movie is The War of The Worlds!!

    +1 Comment
    +1 Blog Follow alicia0605
    +1 Twitter alicia0605
    +1 Tweet:
    http://twitter.com/#!/alicia0605/status/129225734299463680

    aliciahall0605(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  15. OMG! My fave movie was The Thing,it was great!!!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower(raihana)
    +1 twitter follower (prettykgraham)

    Raihana619@gmail.com

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  16. Independence Day and Monster vs Aliens :p

    +1 for comment
    +1 for blog follow (blackwolf)
    +1 for Twitter follow (@PandoraSWolf)
    +1 for Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/PandoraSWolf/status/129334181418377216

    darksiry(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. I totally agree on the Monsters vs. Aliens!

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follow

    chibipooh(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. Hmm, I don't remember any aliens films (A) But I did love Independence Day :D
    Thank you for this giveaway. <3 Would love to win this book :D

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follow

    Love, Carina ~ carina-olsen@hotmail.com

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  19. My favourite alien movie was E.T. Alien vs. Predator was quite enjoyable, despite the fact that it's so freaking scary.

    +1 for comment
    +1 for blog follow
    +1 for Twitter follow @aikchien
    +1 for Tweet
    http://twitter.com/#!/aikchien/status/129501933798043648

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  20. Thanks for another amazing giveaway!

    And another tough question... so many good alien books/movies. Independence Day is good fun. The Fifth Element, even better. I can't believe that I can't think of a good book to add.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower Spaz
    +1 Twitter follower SPAZinOL

    zsaz1029.at.yahoo.dot.com

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  21. Alien movie - Men in Black
    Book - anything by Heinlein or Bradbury.

    Rebecca
    rrgreene62(at)gmail.com
    +comment
    +follower

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  22. I think the new movie Super 8 was fantastic.

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower bhand35
    +1 twitter follower bhand35
    +1 RT

    mystery_dreams35@hotmail.com

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  23. i like dystopians and sf a lot. i like the book already.
    as for favorite movies: independence day was great, but i also love men in black (just too funny) and you can't forget alien. as a kid i really was afraid of that film.

    GFC: Yto
    Twitter: Yto77
    tweet: http://techfokus.de/willkommen-bei-techfokus-gewinnspiel-mit-einem-ipad-3-und-viel-mehr-231221/

    witchvela at web dot de

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  24. My favourite alien books are the Kitty Katt series by Gini Koch.
    I also loved the TV series Third Rock from the Sun.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Blog follower
    +1 Twitter follower: (Sparima)
    +1 Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/130397903641522176

    spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

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  25. Hmm. Favorite movie would have to be ET, I think. Although I did enjoy Independence day. And honestly, sometimes I just like to watch Men in Black :)

    +comment
    +tweet

    already following everything :)

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