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Up Against It

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a bi ...more
Published September 2nd 2011 by Audible Frontiers (first published March 1st 2011)
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"But I recently read M.J. Locke’s Up Against It, which is set in space in our future and is wonderful and just the sort of thing to give me faith that there’s a lot of juice in the genre yet." -- Jo Walton

"Best book of politics I've EVER read." -- Justin Landon (Staffer's Book Review)

It kind of switches between YA and political dealings, but...the mafia? That seems so 'Rockford Files' to me.

All done. Slow arou
This book was almost like pulling an old worn paperback off my shelf full of classic sci-fi novels. The idioms of contemporary SF are all there -- transhumanism, singularities, nanotechnology, ubiquitous computing and surveillance -- but the story is pure Golden Age sci-fi.

Phoecea is an asteroid colony on the precarious edge of survival and profitability. To increase their income, they have cut a deal with an Earth-based media corporation to broadcast everything that happens on Phoecea for a rea
Chris Aylott
This book started off on the wrong foot for me. It bills itself as a first novel, which it isn't. ("M.J. Locke" is Laura J. Mixon, a good writer who has apparently reached the point in the publishing cycle where she needs to reboot with a pseudonym.) The plot also depends on an asteroid colony that doesn't seem to make sense -- would 200,000 people really live in a place where one reasonably likely accident can doom them all?

Then the story rolls onward, and it all starts to make sense. Phocaea i
Helen Merrick
I really wanted to love this book, and while parts of it were wonderful, as a whole it didn't grip me as much as I thought it would, and I can't quite figure out why. There are great characters, a wonderful world, an interesting emerging AI, politics and mystery galore. What tipped this up from a 3.5 for me were the really interesting background details which explored race, gender and sexuality in very interesting ways.Racial diversity, gender-bending characters, groups marriages are all there i ...more
Scott D.
3.5 stars. 4 stars for the first quarter of the novel. The setting among asteroids was wonderful, the emergence of a sapient in the computer system was interesting. After that, it turned into an action packed plot full of running (or its in-space equivalent) and explosions. The first part I'd call a combination of Clarke and Doctorow, and the rest a kind of 24 in space. I liked it, which equals 3 stars.

In Up Against It a 25th-century asteroid-based community is beset by a confluence of disasters: a critical resource hemorrhaging accident, a takeover threat by the Martian mob, a rogue artificial intelligence in the asteroid's systems -- the list goes on. It explores both the fragility of human life in a hostile environment, and life's pluck and resilience in the face of adversity.
The novel is roughly split between following the community's resource manager Jane Navio as she attempts to respond
I am not always a fan of hard science fiction. It is a sad truth but a true one. Blame the fact that I came to science fiction via fantasy and Star Wars. In fact I’ve read very little hard science fiction and placing novels within this sub-genre is not the simplest process. I mean Alistair Reynolds Revelation Space is hard science fiction in one sense but it also most definitely a space opera that is not completely grounded by today’s reality. On the other hand Ben Bova’s The Precipice is a hard ...more
Promising Hard SF debut

Up Against It is my most anticipated debut this year. M. J. Locke paints a picture of space colonization in a not to far future in this thrilling story of a criminal takeover attempt of Phocaea, a strategic and independent asteroid colony.

There are two main characters Geoff and Jane. Geoff is coming of age as he and his young rocketbike-riding friends become central to the events. He witnesses how his beloved brother Carl is killed in the mysterious accident that destroys
Jenn Myers
I'm not sure how to review this without spoilers. Let me think...

I found this book on a shelf marked "'New' author!" and I sort of laughed at that. For one reason, they put "new" in quotes, which sort of goes to show that they know she's not a new author. And her writing isn't "new - so please forgive it if there's some hinkiness to it" either. She's been doing this a while, and this book shows it - it's tightly plotted, the characters are realistic (if fact I might even be related to a few of t
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Since M.J. Locke (actually Laura J. Mixon) is an engineer, it's not surprising that this is a book where the nitty gritty of the technical and other challenges of living in space are important. Think Red Mars without the geological digressions. It also has an interesting look at the idea of computer intelligences.

Having just re-read this (August 2013), I'd add that it's an interesting split-the-difference between Michael Flynn's Firestar books (and others set later in the same continuity) and Jo
Tom Negrino
Morgan J. Locke, writing here as M. J. Locke, may not be a familiar name to SF readers, but with her debut novel, she shows herself as an author to be watched. A hard SF novel that is confident, assured, and tightly plotted, Up Against It is a book that I couldn't put down. The author draws a sharply realized world of an asteroid colony facing a life-threatening resource calamity and under attack by organized crime, an accidentally created artificial intelligence (a "feral sapient" that could be ...more
Everyone is talking about this as a "debut novel." WTF? This was written by Laura J. Mixon, who has been writing sci-fi for, what?, 30 years now? The blurbs on the cover are from her friends, which is one of those sneaky tricks authors often pull.

I don't know why they felt the need to do this sort of bullshit marketing campaign, but it certainly seems to have fooled a bunch of people, who apparently can't be bothered to read the copyright page. It says it right there: "Copyright 2011 by Laura J.
I found the writing dry to the point it would jar me out of the story. Unnecessary detail felt like filler to space out the plot (ha!). Often, it felt like I was reading a checked-off to-do list: first she checked her email, then made some calls, then went to the doctor's office, etc.

Nevertheless, the world that Locke created is fascinating and has potential. I hope the next books in this world are paced a bit quicker -- then we'll be having some fun.

Bottom line: okay for a quick read.
This had a lot of elements that I love: competent person doing their job well and saving people against tough odds in space with a new sentience emerging. And I enjoyed moments of it very much, but on the whole the book fell a little flat for me. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it had something to do with the character of Jane Navio. Even though she worked with other people and was a part of the station bureaucracy for a good chunk of the book, she felt more like a loner than a leader. I ...more
Linda Nagata
MJ Locke combines the science of asteroid settlement with a tale of adventure and intrigue in this impressive, well-realized novel set on the solar system’s low-gravity frontier. Recommended.
My only real complaint is that the YA portion of the book doesn't quite live up to the standard of the rest of it. Geoff with his cliche friends, cliche hobbies and cliche daddy issues goes on on cliche adventures involving a particularly dumb local gang... and is probably the most cliche YA protagonist imaginable for the 2/3 of the book. When (view spoiler) he and his plot do get more interesting, and he would've been even more interesting still if his re ...more
This was a pleasant read, but had some pacing problems throughout. The scifi elements were great, and the characters generally appealing and realistic, but the focus of the story shifted from overly detailed to breezing past what plenty would consider critical action. I'd almost fault the editor(s) more than author, as the story was solid, and I'd recommend it on that alone, but I'd tell people to save it for a holiday read or a public transportation commute given that good portions of the book ...more
c a t h e y
Firstly thanks to M. J. Locke for sending me the free copy of Up Against It which I won from First Reads. This book far exceeded my expectations. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this book is a solid 4.5 stars.

Engaging from the beginning, Commander Jane Navio has to help her asteroid society make it past the disaster of losing methane ice - a precious commodity in space. While her actions are watched every second from Earth due to minute cameras everywhere, she has to navigate the dark wat
Up Against It (C, enough nuggets to make it worth a check but a minor disappointment overall) by "MJ Locke" has a very interesting premise and a great opening 40-50 pages but things go mostly downhill after that. There are quite a few nuggets like a newly awakened AI that steals the show in all its interactions with humans and a "genetic cult" with surprising philosophies and depth, but the writing style of the pseudonymous author is just not up to handling the interesting world building she cre ...more
Adam A
I picked up this book because I love those "our protagonists are in deep space and something bad is about to hit the fan" type stories. Never read anything by Locke, so my expectations were fairly managed.

I wasn't expecting that "Up Against It" was going to ding that one straight out of the park.

Locke's characters are likable and what's more, I understood them - even in such a fantastic setting, the motivations of the story's characters are basicaly human and accessible to me and so there's no r
(Note: This book was won in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.)

I'll spare the "Up Against It is about..." bit -- it's covered by many other reviews, as well as the official summary above -- and stick with my opinion of the book.

I entered the giveaway for this book because I'm a diehard science geek and a fan of "hard" science fiction. "Up Against It" is fantastic at first, and I burned through the first 100 pages in about two hours. Unfortunately, the story (and my interest) dropped off a bit a
I ended up liking this a lot more than I initially thought I would. The cover blurb played up the spiritual angle a lot more than it was actually explored, but other than that there were story elements that really got me thinking about how an asteroid colony would function. If not based in "hard" science, it's close enough to seem real, while still having an adventure feel to the story (especially from the teenage protagonist's perspective). The main protagonist's story falls a little flat for m ...more
Jessica Strider
Pros: hard SF, interesting characters, complex interconnected story lines

Cons: characters sometimes solve problems too easily, ending felt too pat

Jane Navio manages resources for 25 Phocaea, an asteroid settlement. When an accident destroys most of the current shipment of ice that provides water, air and fuel for the colony, she's beset by numerous problems. A feral sapient is born from the disaster and must be dealt with before it creates havoc and the martian mob appears to be the only ones in
James Reid
Accident on an asteroid colony goes from bad to worse. This is a YA hard Science fiction book, but the 'hard' is back-grounded by the plot as things go from bad to worse, avoiding the worst excesses of that genre. The problem is that too many things are going on, we have asteroid survival, nanomachines, political maneuvering, emergent AI, and a boys own adventure all vying for space, and while the individual pieces range from good to excellent, the connective tissue between them involves coincid ...more
I'm glad that the folks at Watch The Skies recommended this title. I would not have picked it up on my own. It was a bit of a struggle to get into the book because the view point was not consistent. I wanted to get to the main view point character and stay there. That just didn't seem to work out.

I like the science aspects that tie into this story. The world building and background are really solid. I like the hero of the story. I'm really not sure what it is in particular that is holding me bac
Dec 10, 2011 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sally
Wow, what a knockout first mainstream "hard" scifi debut for this author!

In a future where human colonies on asteroids are the norm, Phocacaea has a serious problem when a mishap dumps megatons of their air and water supply off the asteroid. Was it an "accident" caused by the Martian Crime Syndicate? As if that isn't enough of a problem, somehow a "feral sapient" was spawned in the AI system, and has gone rogue. Plus, what are the Viridians, who deliberately manipulate their genes so that they'r
D.L. Morrese
This is a good old fashioned science fiction story. One of the plot threads is about four spunky teenagers, which reminded me of stories like the Hardy Boys or Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Other parts are like the pulp sci-fi stories from the 1940s-1960s — except with several female characters in starring roles. I admit, 'Up Against It' did not grab me at first. I started reading it last year and put it aside unfinished after about 60 pages. I picked it up again this week and found I gave up about 2 ...more
I was surprised by how much I didn't care about this book. It's similar to Wool in some ways -- strong plot, lots of flying around and jumping up and down and running from bad guys in a tight resource constrained environment... but everyone (bar the Viridians) are so HUMAN. So American, even. You could almost believe they're in a small town in the midwest, what with "Joe Spud" and the hard scrabble life.

This is what lets down the story -- these guys have nanotech. They have nanocameras watching
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By day, a nerd. An engineer who provides environmental compliance and sustainability management services, with an information management spin.

By night, a writer. Spinner of far-flung techie dreams—stories filled with planetary disaster. Spaceships, rogue AI’s, planet-eating machines, sentient tumors… and people who struggle to survive on the fringes of the world.

Pseudonym for author Laura J. Mixon
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