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Up Against It

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  421 Ratings  ·  85 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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Jan 05, 2014 Tamahome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Nov 15, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Resource managers, 'Stroiders
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
Apr 18, 2011 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Aylott
Nov 04, 2011 Chris Aylott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2011 Helen Merrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

A slightly further then near-future set in the asteroid belt with kind of a YA feel to it. But more than that it's a kitchen sink hard sf space opera. With the mob and emerging AI and gene-hacking and societal changes and Truman Show level surveillance for money and ... Too much. Way too much. But still a fun read with fun ideas. And no zombies at all.
Sep 26, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 20, 2015 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the edges of the solar system is a thriving asteroid colony... thriving, that is, until a disaster, which was possibly sabotage, threatens their regular ice shipment. After that, there's just barely enough resources to survive if everybody pulls together and they manage to make a deal for a new shipment... although, the only source close enough has ties to organized crime and might have been responsible for the initial disaster. Also, there may be a feral AI loose in the system which only add ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Ove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jenn Myers
May 12, 2011 Jenn Myers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tom Negrino
Mar 12, 2012 Tom Negrino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2012 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to call this book too long, but given it's a space station political thriller, a coming of age story, a social commentary and a hard SF warning on nanotechnology, AI, genetic engineering and low-G tech ... It's hard to see that criticism as fair.

The world-building is exquisite, but at the cost of only having two well-realized characters, who are themselves far from compelling. What I would have loved to have seen is more depth to the Vivian-Geoff relationship, and a little bit less stark
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
Jul 21, 2011 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 25, 2013 Chad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun reading most of the time, but the author enjoys being cryptic a bit too much. Important aspects of future society are often mentioned without context, and not explained until many pages later. Some are never explained at all. Each time that happened I was pulled right out of the story.

I also have a hard time believing or even understanding the way the AI is born and communicates. Harp music, really?
Linda Nagata
Dec 23, 2010 Linda Nagata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Hard science-fiction at its best.
Jessica Strider
May 09, 2013 Jessica Strider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Tim Hicks
This is a tricky book to review. Or is it two books?

There's a good YA Heinlein-juvenile story in here, with the usual crowd of plucky teens who just happen to be superbly capable at anything they try. Such as trying the controls of a giant digger once and then years later remembering the password and how to operate it. Or how to flip something into the space above a tiny asteroid JUST hard enough that it orbits. Or how to program a mining robot in 20 seconds.

There's a better story for grownups
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.
James Kemp
I spent a long time getting into this book. It spent time on the shelf between each of the first few chapters and the time when I make it my main read.

Up Against It is a relatively long book, not quite up with some of the fantasy genre, but over 450 dense pages. There are three interwoven plots, which is why it has a slow burn start. There is quite a bit of setup to be done.

Once it gets going though it is fantastically good. There is a well defined world for it all to happen in which is intern
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
(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
Mar 10, 2015 Ithlilian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hesitate to review this because I barely finished it. I would feel more comfortable putting this on my did not finish shelf instead of giving it a low rating, but I pushed through to the end.

To me this is simply a crime/cop novel in space. It tries to dress up the space part and reel us in with details of how to travel to asteroid homes and how the characters collect ice on cool bikes with nets, but if you see sarcasm in that sentence you'd be correct. No details of the pretty jungle land on t
Aug 22, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
Peter Goodman
“Up Against It,” by M.J. Locke (Tor, 2011). Exceptionally fine SF, with several compelling plot lines that eventually get tied together, interesting characters, what seems to be very solid science. Humans have colonized some asteroids, have colonies on Mars. They are essentially autonomous, in a loose free-market system. Phocea is one asteroid, and Jane Navio is the resource manager. It’s her job to keep the food, water, supplies, flowing. Life on the asteroid depends on water, supplied by gigan ...more
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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
More about M.J. Locke...

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