Blase Ciabaton's Reviews > Outsystem

Outsystem by M.D. Cooper
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Jul 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction, new
Read from July 06 to 23, 2012

In my search to fill the Space Opera void as I await the release of Randolph Lalonde's Broadcast 7, the next in the Spinward Fringe series, I came across Outsystem by Michael Cooper.

Outsystem is Cooper's first novel, and as a result, I was skeptical about its potential and almost passed on reading it-boy am I glad that I didn't skip over this entertaining gem! There were really so many things that I enjoyed about this book that it's difficult to determine where to start.

To begin with, the Science Fiction technology envisioned in this book is some of the best that I've experienced. Outsystem contains the most imaginative use of nanobots that I've seen in a Science Fiction story to date. Using nanobots outside of the body for not only surveillance, but also for assisting in hand to hand combat strengthens the action scenes.

Cooper's development of Artificial Intelligence and how they interact with the human body and act independently was brilliant. Integrating human beings with technology leads to tremendous intellectual and physical benefits, but it also comes with its risks. As with Steven Umstead Gabriel series, Michael Cooper presents both sides of the story. Related to this, I came across a short story by Ryan Jones appearing in the StarShipSofa podcast that did a lovely job of presenting the contradictions inherent in heavy reliance on technology that's imbedded inside human beings. For instance, what happens when the technology malfunctions or gets compromised by a computer virus?

The same technology that facilitates communication with artificial intelligence also allows humans to speak with each other without actually speaking aloud; this is essentially the equivalent of sending a mind to mind text message. When in battle or conducting surveillance, this is very slick tactic that assures stealth and privacy.

In addition to the imaginative development of future technology, Cooper's world building is superb. He describes multiple man-made orbiting ring structures that generate their own artificial gravity; these population centers are pretty mind blowing. We're also introduced to the amazing spacecraft, GSS Intrepid, which essentially has its own artificial planet enclosed within the ship.

The pace of the book is excellent; as soon as I started to just get comfortable with a given scene, Cooper would introduce a curve ball and ramp up the action again. The repeated injection of action scenes creates the perfect balance between world building and the introduction of new technologies. Essentially, as the reader, you're educated about this foreign new world without even realizing that it's happening; this is certainly a hallmark of a talented author.

The universe that Cooper develops for Outsystem portrays corporations holding more power than governments. With NASA stepping away from manned space flight for the time being and private enterprise stepping forward, this seems very plausible to me.

I read a lot of Science Fiction and I found it refreshing that Cooper chose to have a female lead character; this is brave because it's so uncommon in this genre. The fact that Tanis is a strong main character is not influenced one way or the other by her gender; telling the story from a slightly different perspective other than the standard male Science Fiction default, simply makes it more interesting.

No doubt the book is well written and well edited, but there are a few very minor concerns that I have.

There are a lot of different acronyms used to describe different habitations, government entities and security groups. Cooper has a detailed glossary in the back which you can use to decode these, but when reading in e-pub format, this is not very convenient. I feel guilty critiquing the book on this point because it may just be the limitations of my small brain. If you've read the book, I'd love to see your feedback about this in the comments section one way or the other.

There's also a critical section of the book toward the end where I don't understand why the main character, Tanis, doesn't contact the spaceship, GSS Intrepid, to warn them about a potential danger. Shortly thereafter communication is blocked and impossible, so I'm again being fussy, but it seemed odd to me based on the circumstances that a warning called wasn't placed to the ship immediately.

I'm also not crazy about the cover art. It's not that the artwork is poor quality, but to me it's not representative of the story. I look at the cover and don't think Science Fiction; it reminds me more of a current time domestic crime story. I'd like to see something more futuristic.

I enjoyed this book so much that even with the very small critiques that I list above, I feel obligated to rate it a five out of five stars. I've been in touch with Michael Cooper, and he assures me that there are more sequels to come from this universe, and honestly I can't wait. If you're a Space Opera fan, this book is a must read.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Vicki (new) - added it

Vicki OMG! I am also searching for a book while waiting for Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7! Your recommendation, from a fellow admirer of Randy Lalonde, is all I need to buy this book. Thanks so much for mentioning Broadcast 7!

Blase Ciabaton Sofatato wrote: "OMG! I am also searching for a book while waiting for Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7! Your recommendation, from a fellow admirer of Randy Lalonde, is all I need to buy this book. Thanks so much for me..."
Glad to connect, so glad that you found this helpful!

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