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This Virtual Night

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Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction. Millenia ago, an overcrowded Earth developed the Hausman Drive, which allowed humans to travel faster than light and colonize the galaxy. Too late, it was discovered that the technology damaged the DNA of those who used it, causin Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction. Millenia ago, an overcrowded Earth developed the Hausman Drive, which allowed humans to travel faster than light and colonize the galaxy. Too late, it was discovered that the technology damaged the DNA of those who used it, causing the children of colonists to be born with mutations. Fearful of contagion, Earth cut off all contact with the colonists, leaving them stranded and alone as they struggled to come to terms with what they had become. Now, in the Second Age of Human Expansion, a new galactic civilization has been established. This time it is based on space stations clustered around natural transit points: the outworlds. One Variant race, the Guerans, has made it a personal mission to locate any surviving colonies and bring them back into the human fold. But ancient bitternesses die hard, and there is no love lost between Terrans and their Variant cousins. It is technology that unites humanity now. The brainware that each person receives at birth allows direct mental communication with a computer network spanning the outworlds: the outernet. But with that technology comes great risk.


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Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction. Millenia ago, an overcrowded Earth developed the Hausman Drive, which allowed humans to travel faster than light and colonize the galaxy. Too late, it was discovered that the technology damaged the DNA of those who used it, causin Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction. Millenia ago, an overcrowded Earth developed the Hausman Drive, which allowed humans to travel faster than light and colonize the galaxy. Too late, it was discovered that the technology damaged the DNA of those who used it, causing the children of colonists to be born with mutations. Fearful of contagion, Earth cut off all contact with the colonists, leaving them stranded and alone as they struggled to come to terms with what they had become. Now, in the Second Age of Human Expansion, a new galactic civilization has been established. This time it is based on space stations clustered around natural transit points: the outworlds. One Variant race, the Guerans, has made it a personal mission to locate any surviving colonies and bring them back into the human fold. But ancient bitternesses die hard, and there is no love lost between Terrans and their Variant cousins. It is technology that unites humanity now. The brainware that each person receives at birth allows direct mental communication with a computer network spanning the outworlds: the outernet. But with that technology comes great risk.

30 review for This Virtual Night

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I might have mentioned in my review for the first book in this series, This Alien Shore, that I missed this kind of SF. The bookgods have smiled upon me. (Or at least C.S. Friedman has.) What we have here is a setting focused on gritty space stations, hacking, aliens everywhere among us, GAMES, mystery, and a good healthy dose of wanderlust gone wrong. If you liked This Alien Shore, I'm pretty certain that you'll love this one. It's a return to quite complicated SF settings, characters, and invest I might have mentioned in my review for the first book in this series, This Alien Shore, that I missed this kind of SF. The bookgods have smiled upon me. (Or at least C.S. Friedman has.) What we have here is a setting focused on gritty space stations, hacking, aliens everywhere among us, GAMES, mystery, and a good healthy dose of wanderlust gone wrong. If you liked This Alien Shore, I'm pretty certain that you'll love this one. It's a return to quite complicated SF settings, characters, and investigations that are never reduced to stereotypes. There's heart here and a clear love of the possibilities inherent in these tropes. Virtuals, hacking, melting pot space stations, and pure noir. I'd say it might be a cyberpunk novel, but it's very well rounded. I very much recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick St-Denis

    It's been a long time coming and the novel is finally here. C. S. Friedman's first book in nearly four years. After a stint writing YA, the author went back to her roots, to the science fiction genre where she started her career way back in 1987. You may recall that writing the Magister trilogy took a lot out of Friedman and she needed a much-deserved break from that sort of story. That series was by far her most densely written, aggressively dark, and adult-themed work, and it took six years of It's been a long time coming and the novel is finally here. C. S. Friedman's first book in nearly four years. After a stint writing YA, the author went back to her roots, to the science fiction genre where she started her career way back in 1987. You may recall that writing the Magister trilogy took a lot out of Friedman and she needed a much-deserved break from that sort of story. That series was by far her most densely written, aggressively dark, and adult-themed work, and it took six years of her life to complete. Exhausted, Friedman wanted to write something shorter, something more linear, with a plot that wasn't as convoluted, with a much faster pace. Something that her younger fans could relate to a bit more and that her adult fans would enjoy as well. Whether or not The Dreamwalker Chronicles managed to do just that depends on who you ask. As I said before, I understand why SFF authors like Joe Abercrombie and C. S. Friedman would want to try to tap into the lucrative YA market. They are not the first and they certainly won't be the last. All I can say is that I'm happy that they have both reached the end of their YA series and will now concentrate on adult-oriented speculative fiction works. That's how they each made a name for themselves and the genre needs such authors writing at the top of their game. Around the time Dreamweaver was published, Friedman announced that her next work would be set in the same universe as the novel This Alien Shore. This really got me excited! Even better, the author is now working on a sequel, which will turn this into a trilogy. This Alien Shore was published in 1998, so it's been a while. Fear not, for you don't need to have read the novel to fully enjoy This Virtual Night. Both works are set in the same universe and are equally enjoyable, yet they can be read independently. Here's the blurb: Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction. When deep-space travel altered the genes of the first interstellar colonists, Earth abandoned them. But some of the colonies survived, and a new civilization of mental and physical “Variants” has been established, centered around clusters of space stations known as the outworlds. Now the unthinkable has happened: a suicide assault has destroyed the life support system of a major waystation. All that is known about the young men responsible is that in their last living moments they were receiving messages from an uninhabited sector of space, and were playing a virtual reality game. Two unlikely allies have joined forces to investigate the incident: Ru Gaya, a mercenary explorer with a taste for high risk ventures, and game designer Micah Bello, who must find the parties responsible for the attack in order to clear his name. From the corridors of a derelict station lost to madness to an outlaw stronghold in the depths of uncharted space, the two now follow the trail of an enemy who can twist human minds to his purpose, and whose plans could bring about the collapse of outworld civilization. Dark and complex worldbuilding has always been an aspect in which Friedman shines. This Alien Shore was a sprawling book, filled with cool concepts and big ideas. This sequel is not as dense and is written in a much smaller scale. Indeed, with the groundwork laid out by its predecessor, This Virtual Night can focus on the plot and not have to rely on worldbuilding. The author provides whatever information the reader might need by filling in the blanks when necessary, but otherwise one misses nothing for not having read the prequel. In style and tone, this new work is not as dark and brooding as past SFF novels by C. S. Friedman. Not "light" by any stretch of the imagination, but This Virtual Night is a more fun and entertaining space opera than what the author has accustomed us to in the past. Have no fear, for it's still a convoluted tale that builds on some of the concepts that were introduced in This Alien Shore. The bulk of the characterization is made up of the perspectives of two protagonists. Ruisa Gaya, an Outrider who wakes up in Tiananmen Station after a mission that has gone terribly wrong, and Micah Bello, a game designer falsely accused of an attack on a space station. When he barely escapes a murder attempt, Micah finds himself stranded on the abandoned Shenshido station, where things have taken a turn for the worse. Though Ru and Micah take center stage, I feel that the story would have benefited from fleshing out the supporting cast a little more. Especially Ivar and Jericho, since they play important roles in the greater scheme of things. Although it takes a while for the storylines to come together, This Virtual Night doesn't suffer from any pacing issues. Things are never dull and the tale progresses at a good clip. The novel is a fun romp and a fast read. Virtual reality, hackers, a diversity of alien races that are offshoots of mankind, politicking, intrigue; that's C. S. Friedman's latest in a nutshell. Looking forward to the final installment in this trilogy! For more reviews, check out www.fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Ipfritsch

    This Alien Shore is one of my favorite books ever and I can't wait for this!! This Alien Shore is one of my favorite books ever and I can't wait for this!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    As always, it's a pleasure to read C.S. Friedman. Her writing is clear and evocative, and often snarky (a characteristic that I enjoy in prose). That being said, this was not my favorite of her works; nor do I feel, as strong at "This Alien Shore," which is the novel that introduced us to this future (far future) universe. This was just too short (the hardcover is only 448 pages). It started off as a novel but ended as a novella. I was very surprised to realize that I was already 75% finished but As always, it's a pleasure to read C.S. Friedman. Her writing is clear and evocative, and often snarky (a characteristic that I enjoy in prose). That being said, this was not my favorite of her works; nor do I feel, as strong at "This Alien Shore," which is the novel that introduced us to this future (far future) universe. This was just too short (the hardcover is only 448 pages). It started off as a novel but ended as a novella. I was very surprised to realize that I was already 75% finished but felt like I had just completed the intro and set up to the novel. The last 25% felt rushed and ultimately superficial. The ending was too pat and everything wrapped up too neatly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jake Casella

    An okay space adventure that feels weirdly dated, and unfortunately doesn't do much with its very promising setting. Full review at the Chicago Review of Books: https://chireviewofbooks.com/2020/10/... An okay space adventure that feels weirdly dated, and unfortunately doesn't do much with its very promising setting. Full review at the Chicago Review of Books: https://chireviewofbooks.com/2020/10/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    I've read This Alien Shore so many times my copy has fallen apart. I am so excited for this sequel I've read This Alien Shore so many times my copy has fallen apart. I am so excited for this sequel

  7. 4 out of 5

    deep

    PW Starred: "The long-awaited second entry in Friedman’s Outworlds series (after 1998’s This Alien Shore) will only whet the appetites of hard sci-fi fans for more adventures set in Friedman’s expertly rendered vision of the future. Centuries prior, a major technological breakthrough, the Hausman Drive, enabled humans to colonize the universe, but the development came with a steep price, as the drive altered the DNA of all those who used it, leading them to have mutated offspring who appear inhu PW Starred: "The long-awaited second entry in Friedman’s Outworlds series (after 1998’s This Alien Shore) will only whet the appetites of hard sci-fi fans for more adventures set in Friedman’s expertly rendered vision of the future. Centuries prior, a major technological breakthrough, the Hausman Drive, enabled humans to colonize the universe, but the development came with a steep price, as the drive altered the DNA of all those who used it, leading them to have mutated offspring who appear inhuman. Earth cut off all contact with these Variant colonists, but now a new method of travel into deep space offers the possibility of reunification for humankind. Against this backdrop, a mysterious explosion on Harmony Station disables the station’s life support system and kills two players of Dragonslayer, a virtual reality game. Suspicions of sabotage lead two very different characters to investigate: Micah Bello, Dragonslayer’s designer, fears he will be falsely accused of planting malware within the game and seeks to clear his name, and mercenary Ru Gaya is hired to look into an abandoned research station which may be linked to the explosion. Friedman perfectly balances action and characterization while keeping up a page-turning pace. Readers won’t want to put this one down. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Oct.)"

  8. 4 out of 5

    astaliegurec

    C.S. Friedman's 2020 novel "Outworlds, Book 2: This Virtual Night" is the sequel to her 1998/1999 novel "Outworlds, Book 1: This Alien Shore." I felt that earlier book was merely OK, but thought I'd give this book a try and see if the series had gotten any better in the intervening 20-something years. In a word, no. Whereas I thought the first book was a bit soulless and had backstory problems, I found that I had problems with the main driver of this book. My biggest issue is that I just can't s C.S. Friedman's 2020 novel "Outworlds, Book 2: This Virtual Night" is the sequel to her 1998/1999 novel "Outworlds, Book 1: This Alien Shore." I felt that earlier book was merely OK, but thought I'd give this book a try and see if the series had gotten any better in the intervening 20-something years. In a word, no. Whereas I thought the first book was a bit soulless and had backstory problems, I found that I had problems with the main driver of this book. My biggest issue is that I just can't see how the society in question could not have protections against intrusions into absolutely essential, real-time operating systems. There's some attempt at an explanation near the end, but I'm not happy with it. As with the first book, writing-wise, the book is fine. But with what I perceive to be such a big story problem, the best I can rate it is an OK 3 stars out of 5.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Skolia

    A decent sequel to "This Alien Shore" but at the same time it's somewhat disappointing, the novel's scope is much smaller than the first previous book and, while that's not a bad thing in itself, the story takes it's time to get moving. I can't get much into the plot without spoilers so I won't go over specifics, but there are some interesting ideas and characters - although perhaps not as interesting as those explored in the previous work. The final act of "This Virtual Night" felt anti-climatic A decent sequel to "This Alien Shore" but at the same time it's somewhat disappointing, the novel's scope is much smaller than the first previous book and, while that's not a bad thing in itself, the story takes it's time to get moving. I can't get much into the plot without spoilers so I won't go over specifics, but there are some interesting ideas and characters - although perhaps not as interesting as those explored in the previous work. The final act of "This Virtual Night" felt anti-climatic to me and was somewhat abrupt (although somewhat abrupt endings is largely a hallmark of C. S Friedman's storytelling.) If, for some reason, you're reading this review wondering if it's worth a read, the short answer is 'yes' but I'd recommend not to expect an epic adventure this time around.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Henry Lazarus

    C.S. Friedman tells of a future with huge space stations in This Virtual Night (hard from DAW). A virtual reality game has been used so unaware gamers could plant a bomb in life support killing the gamers and endangering the station. Ru Gaya, an explorer who locates lost colonies and who has lost her partner, has been asked to investigate. Micah Bello, a game designer blamed for the tragedy, is drawn into the chase. The trail leads through Shenshido, a derelict station where survivors are convin C.S. Friedman tells of a future with huge space stations in This Virtual Night (hard from DAW). A virtual reality game has been used so unaware gamers could plant a bomb in life support killing the gamers and endangering the station. Ru Gaya, an explorer who locates lost colonies and who has lost her partner, has been asked to investigate. Micah Bello, a game designer blamed for the tragedy, is drawn into the chase. The trail leads through Shenshido, a derelict station where survivors are convinced they are fighting zombies, to a criminal station, Hydra and back to Harmony were the villain is planning a horrible attack. This is a fun tale, but I felt the villain came out of left field and the ending came too easy. Recommended.Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jen (Remembered Reads)

    Judged on its own, This Virtual Night is an entertaining adventure/investigative romp through a space opera-y universe. While the ending is a little rushed, the suspense-building was successful enough to keep me reading almost straight through. But as a follow-up to This Alien Shore, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. The (relative) realism of the hacker adventures in that book has been replaced by a more generic game-designer-turns-RL-adventurer here, and the interesting social commentar Judged on its own, This Virtual Night is an entertaining adventure/investigative romp through a space opera-y universe. While the ending is a little rushed, the suspense-building was successful enough to keep me reading almost straight through. But as a follow-up to This Alien Shore, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. The (relative) realism of the hacker adventures in that book has been replaced by a more generic game-designer-turns-RL-adventurer here, and the interesting social commentary on human difference that came along with the Gueran society being explored in This Alien Shore is all but absent this time around. Love the idea of (view spoiler)[the only real recurring character from the first book being a chunk of code though. (hide spoiler)]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anshilton

    A return to the ‘universe’ of This Alien Shore and complete with a similar unwinding of a whose-the-real-bad-guy mystery, This Virtual Night focuses rather on our desire to control and shape the narrative of the world around us rather than a deep exploration of what it means to be human (as the first book did.) Good, solid Sci-fi, but the culture wasn’t as fascinating to explore as this sequel didn’t provide much more depth to what was set out in the first book, and the characters, while easily A return to the ‘universe’ of This Alien Shore and complete with a similar unwinding of a whose-the-real-bad-guy mystery, This Virtual Night focuses rather on our desire to control and shape the narrative of the world around us rather than a deep exploration of what it means to be human (as the first book did.) Good, solid Sci-fi, but the culture wasn’t as fascinating to explore as this sequel didn’t provide much more depth to what was set out in the first book, and the characters, while easily likable and heroic, weren’t the mysteries themselves as the protagonists in This Alien Shore proved to be. Would still very much recommend, and very much enjoyed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shahar K.

    If you read "This Alien Shore", then this will be a must read. If you haven't, I suggest reading it before This Virtual Night, it will add so much more to the story (though both are stand alone in the same universe). On a personal note, this book made 2020 a whole lot better for me. If you read "This Alien Shore", then this will be a must read. If you haven't, I suggest reading it before This Virtual Night, it will add so much more to the story (though both are stand alone in the same universe). On a personal note, this book made 2020 a whole lot better for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Williams Jr.

    A great story and fun ride. I couldn't stop reading as the story drew me in with the turn of every page. I always look forward to this authors work and this one did not disappoint. A great story and fun ride. I couldn't stop reading as the story drew me in with the turn of every page. I always look forward to this authors work and this one did not disappoint.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Glennis

    I had read the previous book about twenty years and seriously don’t remember a thing about it and that is fine because this book stands on its own. Ru Gaya is an outrider, someone who contacts lost colonies and convinces them that coming back into the greater galactic society thanks to technology that allows for long travel. At the beginning of the book she was asleep for twenty years instead of three and her partner died during the mission. She is more than ready to take a mission for the guild I had read the previous book about twenty years and seriously don’t remember a thing about it and that is fine because this book stands on its own. Ru Gaya is an outrider, someone who contacts lost colonies and convinces them that coming back into the greater galactic society thanks to technology that allows for long travel. At the beginning of the book she was asleep for twenty years instead of three and her partner died during the mission. She is more than ready to take a mission for the guild to find the programmer that is responsible for an explosion on a space station. It seems there is a virus infecting people through their VR headsets that changes their everyday perceptions. Ru needs to get the programmer off a seemingly abandoned space station he crashed on while on the run and return him the to guild. The plot is good and there are some threads that are left that another book in this setting could be written but the reader isn’t left hanging for another book. It did leave me with the feeling that I need to reread This Alien Shore since I can’t remember the plot to it at all since I liked the setting this story was set in. Review copy provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I liked this one a lot. It didn't make me cry but it was a solid adventure tale and once it really got going I was hooked enough to delay bedtime in order to finish. I liked this one a lot. It didn't make me cry but it was a solid adventure tale and once it really got going I was hooked enough to delay bedtime in order to finish.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jake Casella

    Full review coming at the Chicago Review of Books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eric Stockwell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tm Buffalo

  24. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mike Migdall

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jaidev

  27. 4 out of 5

    Twhite

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina Knoll

  29. 5 out of 5

    Uriel Maimon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill

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