Discussion:
_Solar Express_ by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
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Lynn McGuire
2020-05-12 20:02:23 UTC
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_Solar Express_ by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Express-L-Modesitt-Jr/dp/0765381966/

A standalone space opera book, no prequel or sequel that I know of.
Note that some people call this hard science, I do not because of the
alien space ship. Some people might call this military science fiction,
I am not sure. I read the well printed and bound MMPB published by Tor
in 2016. I have read several books by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. and have
several in my SBR (strategic book reserve) to be read.

Man, I love space opera ! This is the good stuff. Great story set in
2114 with the three major entities on Earth jockeying for ownership of
the Solar System: The North American Union (Noram), the Sinese
Federation, and the Indian Alliance are all moving into space in a big
way with the resulting conflicts over territory and resources.

I loved the universe building in this book. The 100 meter fusion jet
spacecraft, the three space elevators, the hollowed asteroid bases at
L1, etc, etc, etc. A very rich book with a decent story line. And the
background politics about the cost of space.

My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (108 reviews)

Lynn
Thomas Koenig
2020-05-13 11:42:49 UTC
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Post by Lynn McGuire
My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (108 reviews)
Interesting. Amazon gives it a release date of 01.01.1800, which
certainly makes it one of the most early cases of science fiction,
let alone space opera :-)
Ahasuerus
2020-05-13 15:15:06 UTC
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Post by Thomas Koenig
Post by Lynn McGuire
My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (108 reviews)
Interesting. Amazon gives it a release date of 01.01.1800, which
certainly makes it one of the most early cases of science fiction,
let alone space opera :-)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDVSMB8 says "November 3, 2015" when
accessed from a US IP address. IP- or pandemic-related weirdness,
perhaps?
Thomas Koenig
2020-05-13 18:16:05 UTC
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Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Thomas Koenig
Post by Lynn McGuire
My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (108 reviews)
Interesting. Amazon gives it a release date of 01.01.1800, which
certainly makes it one of the most early cases of science fiction,
let alone space opera :-)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDVSMB8 says "November 3, 2015" when
accessed from a US IP address. IP- or pandemic-related weirdness,
perhaps?
It was amazon.de, and the date seems to have corrected itself now.
Probably a case of cosmic rays.
Thomas Koenig
2020-05-17 10:52:46 UTC
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Post by Lynn McGuire
_Solar Express_ by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Express-L-Modesitt-Jr/dp/0765381966/
A standalone space opera book, no prequel or sequel that I know of.
Note that some people call this hard science, I do not because of the
alien space ship.
Having read it, neither do I.

One thing that bugs me a little is that, for a book where "hard"
science plays a big role, the science is sadly lacking.

Some minor spoilers:



It is astonishing what is _not_ done to investigate the alien
artifact. Basically, some optical measurements, and that's it.
Our current Mars rovers are far better equipped.

I would have expected at least an APSX and some simple other
measurements, such as thermal and electrical conductivity,
dielectric constant (if not highly conducting), speed of sound etc.
A mobile AFM to study the surface might have been too much to
ask for, but the vacuum certainly would be good enough.

Another point is the unexplained acceleration of the spaceship.
This is a BIG DEAL (tm), especially since the effect also affected
the spacecraft in the vicinity. I would have expected a much more
thourough investigation, including putting some remote probes at
varying distances and measuring their relative accelertion.

Regarding the CO2 removal: A critical system says it is working
fine, except that it isn't working. Uh yeah, that's just the
way it is then, right?

The way the whole thing was run: Come on. You have one guy in
such a unique situation, and you do not have a capable ground
team to evaluate everything his reports and data, and give him
suggestions / orders on what to do next? There would have been
ample time to set up something like that while he was in transit.
That is just grossly incompetent.

Finally, the tactical innovation / improvisation at the end of
the book was so glaringly obvious that it almost hurts to think
that anybody would actually fall for it, especially considering
the tactical situation and the number of vessels involved.

I liked the quotes about incapable polititians, though.
Lynn McGuire
2020-05-17 23:53:28 UTC
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Post by Thomas Koenig
Post by Lynn McGuire
_Solar Express_ by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Express-L-Modesitt-Jr/dp/0765381966/
A standalone space opera book, no prequel or sequel that I know of.
Note that some people call this hard science, I do not because of the
alien space ship.
Having read it, neither do I.
One thing that bugs me a little is that, for a book where "hard"
science plays a big role, the science is sadly lacking.
It is astonishing what is _not_ done to investigate the alien
artifact. Basically, some optical measurements, and that's it.
Our current Mars rovers are far better equipped.
I would have expected at least an APSX and some simple other
measurements, such as thermal and electrical conductivity,
dielectric constant (if not highly conducting), speed of sound etc.
A mobile AFM to study the surface might have been too much to
ask for, but the vacuum certainly would be good enough.
Another point is the unexplained acceleration of the spaceship.
This is a BIG DEAL (tm), especially since the effect also affected
the spacecraft in the vicinity. I would have expected a much more
thourough investigation, including putting some remote probes at
varying distances and measuring their relative accelertion.
Regarding the CO2 removal: A critical system says it is working
fine, except that it isn't working. Uh yeah, that's just the
way it is then, right?
The way the whole thing was run: Come on. You have one guy in
such a unique situation, and you do not have a capable ground
team to evaluate everything his reports and data, and give him
suggestions / orders on what to do next? There would have been
ample time to set up something like that while he was in transit.
That is just grossly incompetent.
Finally, the tactical innovation / improvisation at the end of
the book was so glaringly obvious that it almost hurts to think
that anybody would actually fall for it, especially considering
the tactical situation and the number of vessels involved.
I liked the quotes about incapable polititians, though.
The spaceship CO2 system failing after a couple of months is not
surprising. And that there was only one backup system was typical of a
jury-rigged spaceship. Before this time, no one had spent more than a
week in the fusion jet spaceship.

There was a very minimal amount of time to build the double fusion-jet
spaceship.

The tactical situation was not good. We have been in this situation
before with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963. When governments act
crazy then other governments tend to get over-analyzing. And using the
spare parts in the spaceship as a shotgun before it slowed down was a
great idea. All current satellite hunter-killers are now shotgun
technology for this reason, all you need is one pellet and the fragile
space technology is severely damaged.

Lynn
Thomas Koenig
2020-05-18 06:49:47 UTC
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Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by Thomas Koenig
Regarding the CO2 removal: A critical system says it is working
fine, except that it isn't working. Uh yeah, that's just the
way it is then, right?
The way the whole thing was run: Come on. You have one guy in
such a unique situation, and you do not have a capable ground
team to evaluate everything his reports and data, and give him
suggestions / orders on what to do next? There would have been
ample time to set up something like that while he was in transit.
That is just grossly incompetent.
Finally, the tactical innovation / improvisation at the end of
the book was so glaringly obvious that it almost hurts to think
that anybody would actually fall for it, especially considering
the tactical situation and the number of vessels involved.
I liked the quotes about incapable polititians, though.
The spaceship CO2 system failing after a couple of months is not
surprising. And that there was only one backup system was typical of a
jury-rigged spaceship. Before this time, no one had spent more than a
week in the fusion jet spaceship.
All of that is correct.

What irked me was the AI announcing "The system is working
perfectly." Systems which, according to all diagnostics, work
perfectly don't just fail to do their jobs. I work in the chemical
industry, and there is _always_ a reson (or the measurements are
so crappy that they should not be allowed into a chemical lab,
let alone a spacecraft).

(Also, if the system was still doing anything, a higher concentration
of CO2 would have resulted in a higher rate of removal. But I guess
it is too much to expect the author to know about Langmuir isotherms).

Googling about the ISS CO2 removal, and reading for half an hour,
would have told the author much, I guess.
Post by Lynn McGuire
There was a very minimal amount of time to build the double fusion-jet
spaceship.
Life support was not affected by adding the booster, IIRC.
Post by Lynn McGuire
The tactical situation was not good.
What I meant the situation when the bad guys just left their
valuable ships sitting at a known position, without deploying any
countermeasures such as decoys. Given the technology where ships
can reach multiple tens of km/s without problem, they are
extremely vulnerable to this kind attack.

[...]
Post by Lynn McGuire
And using the
spare parts in the spaceship as a shotgun before it slowed down was a
great idea.
It is certainly extremely plausible, which is why I fail to understand
why the bad guys didn't think prepare for that attack of at all.
Lynn McGuire
2020-05-18 18:36:56 UTC
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Post by Thomas Koenig
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by Thomas Koenig
Regarding the CO2 removal: A critical system says it is working
fine, except that it isn't working. Uh yeah, that's just the
way it is then, right?
The way the whole thing was run: Come on. You have one guy in
such a unique situation, and you do not have a capable ground
team to evaluate everything his reports and data, and give him
suggestions / orders on what to do next? There would have been
ample time to set up something like that while he was in transit.
That is just grossly incompetent.
Finally, the tactical innovation / improvisation at the end of
the book was so glaringly obvious that it almost hurts to think
that anybody would actually fall for it, especially considering
the tactical situation and the number of vessels involved.
I liked the quotes about incapable polititians, though.
The spaceship CO2 system failing after a couple of months is not
surprising. And that there was only one backup system was typical of a
jury-rigged spaceship. Before this time, no one had spent more than a
week in the fusion jet spaceship.
All of that is correct.
What irked me was the AI announcing "The system is working
perfectly." Systems which, according to all diagnostics, work
perfectly don't just fail to do their jobs. I work in the chemical
industry, and there is _always_ a reson (or the measurements are
so crappy that they should not be allowed into a chemical lab,
let alone a spacecraft).
(Also, if the system was still doing anything, a higher concentration
of CO2 would have resulted in a higher rate of removal. But I guess
it is too much to expect the author to know about Langmuir isotherms).
Googling about the ISS CO2 removal, and reading for half an hour,
would have told the author much, I guess.
Post by Lynn McGuire
There was a very minimal amount of time to build the double fusion-jet
spaceship.
Life support was not affected by adding the booster, IIRC.
Post by Lynn McGuire
The tactical situation was not good.
What I meant the situation when the bad guys just left their
valuable ships sitting at a known position, without deploying any
countermeasures such as decoys. Given the technology where ships
can reach multiple tens of km/s without problem, they are
extremely vulnerable to this kind attack.
[...]
Post by Lynn McGuire
And using the
spare parts in the spaceship as a shotgun before it slowed down was a
great idea.
It is certainly extremely plausible, which is why I fail to understand
why the bad guys didn't think prepare for that attack of at all
I agree, the primary CO2 removal system diagnostics should have been
better. But the AI kept telling him when the CO2 was rising so that may
have been the backup diagnostics.

I equate using two of the fusion jet spaceships for a several month
space voyage to using a 40 ft cabin cruiser to travel from Galveston,
Texas to Liverpool, England. You'll probably make it but the trip will
be interesting.

Lynn
J. Clarke
2020-05-18 20:49:37 UTC
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On Mon, 18 May 2020 13:36:56 -0500, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by Thomas Koenig
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by Thomas Koenig
Regarding the CO2 removal: A critical system says it is working
fine, except that it isn't working. Uh yeah, that's just the
way it is then, right?
The way the whole thing was run: Come on. You have one guy in
such a unique situation, and you do not have a capable ground
team to evaluate everything his reports and data, and give him
suggestions / orders on what to do next? There would have been
ample time to set up something like that while he was in transit.
That is just grossly incompetent.
Finally, the tactical innovation / improvisation at the end of
the book was so glaringly obvious that it almost hurts to think
that anybody would actually fall for it, especially considering
the tactical situation and the number of vessels involved.
I liked the quotes about incapable polititians, though.
The spaceship CO2 system failing after a couple of months is not
surprising. And that there was only one backup system was typical of a
jury-rigged spaceship. Before this time, no one had spent more than a
week in the fusion jet spaceship.
All of that is correct.
What irked me was the AI announcing "The system is working
perfectly." Systems which, according to all diagnostics, work
perfectly don't just fail to do their jobs. I work in the chemical
industry, and there is _always_ a reson (or the measurements are
so crappy that they should not be allowed into a chemical lab,
let alone a spacecraft).
(Also, if the system was still doing anything, a higher concentration
of CO2 would have resulted in a higher rate of removal. But I guess
it is too much to expect the author to know about Langmuir isotherms).
Googling about the ISS CO2 removal, and reading for half an hour,
would have told the author much, I guess.
Post by Lynn McGuire
There was a very minimal amount of time to build the double fusion-jet
spaceship.
Life support was not affected by adding the booster, IIRC.
Post by Lynn McGuire
The tactical situation was not good.
What I meant the situation when the bad guys just left their
valuable ships sitting at a known position, without deploying any
countermeasures such as decoys. Given the technology where ships
can reach multiple tens of km/s without problem, they are
extremely vulnerable to this kind attack.
[...]
Post by Lynn McGuire
And using the
spare parts in the spaceship as a shotgun before it slowed down was a
great idea.
It is certainly extremely plausible, which is why I fail to understand
why the bad guys didn't think prepare for that attack of at all
I agree, the primary CO2 removal system diagnostics should have been
better. But the AI kept telling him when the CO2 was rising so that may
have been the backup diagnostics.
I equate using two of the fusion jet spaceships for a several month
space voyage to using a 40 ft cabin cruiser to travel from Galveston,
Texas to Liverpool, England. You'll probably make it but the trip will
be interesting.
40 foot sailboat, sure. Cabin cruiser you're going to have trouble
fitting enough gas aboard.

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