Read Railhead by Philip Reeve Online


The Great Network is an ancient web of routes and gates, where sentient trains can take you anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye.But the Network is also a hazardous mess of twists and turns, and nothing is as it seems. So when petty thief and railhead Zen Starling is hired by the mysterious Raven, the job appears simple enough. Steal one small box from the EmperorThe Great Network is an ancient web of routes and gates, where sentient trains can take you anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye.But the Network is also a hazardous mess of twists and turns, and nothing is as it seems. So when petty thief and railhead Zen Starling is hired by the mysterious Raven, the job appears simple enough. Steal one small box from the Emperor’s train, live the rest of his days in luxury. Secrets and danger lie in wait on the rails, and that little box might just bring everything in this galaxy—and the next—to the end of the line....

Title : Railhead
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781630790486
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 333 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Railhead Reviews

  • Emily May
    2018-10-21 03:09

    “Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to know what’s beyond that gate?”This is a book for the curious. This is for those readers who get excited by possibility. If you like the idea of a great, wild universe spread out before you, full of mysteries and secrets, then I highly recommend you step into this world.Reeve has created one of the richest, most imaginative worlds I have ever read about. It's set many centuries into our future, when Old Earth has been left behind and a great network of mysterious train tracks run through the universe. Let one take you where you want to go, where you've never been, or even to places you never knew existed. “You step aboard a train, and the train goes through a K-gate, and you step off on another planet, where the sun that was shining on you a moment ago is now just one of those tiny stars in the sky.”It's a compelling heist, set to the backdrop of this complex web of science, mystery, droids and emperors, all of which make up the future of space civilization. To be honest, it took my breath away. I read this book in wide-eyed wonderment from the very first pages to the ending. Words and imagery collide to make the impossible seem so real.It's a fast-paced, constantly-moving journey of excitement, as Zen Starling - a street rat from Thunder City - is given the opportunity to play a part, infiltrate the Emperor's train, hang out with the aristocrats and, ultimately, steal an old, mysterious box for the equally mysterious Raven. Yes, yes, it is all of that. It's pretending and nearly dying and uncovering secrets. It's runaway trains and betrayals and weird creatures called Hive Monks:“He was a Hive Monk, a colony of big brown beetles clinging to a roughly human-shaped armature.”BUT this book is so much richer than all of that. Every word counts. Questions arise about authority and the relationship between power and knowledge (how those in power have the ability to define knowledge and truth). Reeve's droids beg the question of what it means to be human. Are sentient droids really anything other than people made from different materials?“I am human,” she said. “I have a processor for a brain instead of a lump of meat, and my body is made of different substances, but I have feelings and dreams and things, like humans do.”It's also a really diverse novel. Most of the characters, including Zen, are described as "brown" or "dark-skinned" with white people being a minority. Which actually makes a lot more sense than most novels, given that white people are only about 15% of today's population and that is estimated to drop below 10% in the next fifty years. Not only that, but there is diverse sexuality with men married to men and women married to women. And the genderless droids make room for discussion about the differences between men and women - how much difference really exists beyond the way the world sees you?It's such a great story, both interesting in concept, and heart-pounding. I loved how there were no simple villains and the "bad guy" is not all he seems. He has his own back story that shapes him into more than a one-dimensional character with a mindless agenda. And Zen Starling is not a typical hero either. He does some awful things in order to survive and he is allowed to make mistakes and be selfish.In short: This is a clever sci-fi novel that makes space seem utterly magical. Doors to other worlds, ancient civilizations, and a whole universe of possibility. The ending closes the door on this chapter, but it's left in a perfect position to open another one. I get goosebumps just thinking about where that might take us...“He was going to miss everything. But he guessed that was how everybody always felt. Everyone was losing things, leaving things behind, clinging to old memories as they rushed into the future. Everyone was a passenger on a runaway train.”Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  • Hannah Greendale
    2018-11-07 01:45

    Click here to watch an ambiance-enhanced video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

  • Althea Ann
    2018-10-28 02:56

    Cyberpunk-ish YA adventure, with an immediately-appealing, immersive writing style.Zen Starling makes his way by petty thievery. He lives with his older sister and his mother, who appears to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Throughout his childhood, she's dragged them from one placeto the next, never settling down, insisting that they're being pursued by shadowy enemies. But as the adage says, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. And that's what Zen learns, when after stealing a necklace one day, he finds himself pursued by a high-tech drone. After also encountering a mysterious girl, and finding his favorite pawnbroker attacked, Zen realizes that he may be in a heap of trouble.The initial set-up here reminded me a lot of 'The Ice Owl' by Carolyn Ives Gilman. ( The primary 'gimmick' here is that easy, casual travel between worlds has been made possible by a network of trans-dimensional trains. No one really knows how they work, and the network's origin is shrouded in mystery - but they're a part of daily life that is taken for granted. So Zen can steal a necklace on one world, hop a train, and be back for dinner in another galaxy on time.Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, but I did have a few issues with it, some more major than others.On the very minor end - the character of Zen, the way he's written, feels 12 or 13. When, later in the story, he's expected to impersonate a college student and therefore must be at least 17, I found it very jarring.I think the story as a whole would've been improved with less "Quest for the MacGuffin."On a more significant level, there is a point in the story where Zen does something really, truly horrific. (view spoiler)[An act of mass-murder and terrorism. (hide spoiler)] Yes, he's kinda-sorta tricked into it, but his minor feelings of remorse weren't enough for me to continue seeing him as a sympathetic character, which the author clearly expected me to. If you're a good person at all, and you end up doing that level of a serious thing, you're going to be EFFED UP FOR LIFE. But Zen's more like, "Oh damn, that went rather badly. Oh well." For me to buy that, he'd've had to have been portrayed as a more calloused, hardened killer to start with - which he wasn't.In addition, I felt there was a major plot hole: (view spoiler)[OK, Zen agrees to steal the MacGuffin for Raven in return for a giant reward. But he has no reason to either trust Raven or be loyal to him. So, once he's on the Noon train and sees all of the wealth and privilege that he should be entitled to by birth, why on earth (or whatever planet they're zooming by) doesn't he throw himself on the mercy of his extended family, reveal his identity, and expose the plot? It seems the obvious, most self-beneficial thing to do, and while risky, has the clear possibility of a far larger reward. And it doesn't even seem to occur to him as an option. (hide spoiler)]Last issue - big ol' setup-for-the-sequel ending.But, I'd gladly read the sequel - or other books by Reeve.Many thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

  • Justine
    2018-10-29 00:50

    4.5 stars rounded up. After thinking about it for a couple of days I rounded up my star rating on this one. This book is just so imaginative it really deserves it.Railhead is set in a fantastic future where sentient trains transport people across vast distances to other planets by means of K-Gates, a technology pioneered and protected by Guardians, powerful AIs who long ago appointed themselves caretakers of humanity. Zen Starling is a petty thief who is minding his own business when opportunity comes knocking with an offer it appears he can't refuse. What follows is an exciting heist story that quickly becomes something more, because of course the object of the heist is the key to a closely held and dangerous secret.Not enough can be said about the amazing world building in this book. It is incredibly detailed and imaginative, immediately bringing the story to life. Zen Starling is a flawed main character who struggles to do the "right thing" in the face of an increasingly difficult situation. Used to being in a relatively simple world of black and white and small time stakes, he finds himself suddenly in uncertain waters and having to make decisions with implications that extend far beyond just himself.The non-human characters in the story are equally well developed. The Motorik, or android, Nova starts out by recruiting Zen to work for her maker Raven, but it is obvious that she likes Zen too. She seems to have control over her own programming, but it's clear that Zen still harbours some bias and confusion about her motives simply because she is a machine and can be programmed. The whole issue of how much a non-human entity can feel and how it might express self identity is dealt with very well throughout the book. This is an ongoing issue not just for the humanoid Motoriks, but also for the sentient trains themselves, and other characters such as the insect colonies who have formed into single-minded Hive Monks The finish to the story brings everything nicely to a close, but leaves the door open to more books being set in this world. I would be more than happy to read any that are.

  • Puck
    2018-10-28 00:55

    “Thing about trains”, said Zen, “you’ll have to give them something, in return for carrying you. If you do, they’ll take you to any star-system that you want.” It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book with a world so rich. Philip Reeve wrote an absolute gem of a middle-grade sci-fi story, that will take you on a mind-blowing journey across the universe. You’ll meet many people of colour, droids who acts like humans, and these incredible beings called Hive Monks: "He was a colony of big brown beetles clinging to a roughly human-shaped armature which they’d made for themselves out of sticks and string and chicken bones. He wore a paper wasp’s nest for a face, and out of the mouth hole came a voice that was made by a thousand saw-toothed limbs rubbing together." On this journey we follow Zen Starling. Zen is a young, black, small-time criminal who spends his days robbing unsuspecting shop owners and riding the space trains that can take you to any universe in the galaxy. One day a mysterious man called Raven approaches him with an offer: he wants Zen to infiltrate a space train owned by the Imperial Noon family to steal an object hidden away on that train. On this mission Zen will be accompanied by Nova, Raven’s personal droid, and with her technological knowledge this job should be a piece of cake, right?…Of course not, and Zen soon finds himself in an adventure too big and too dangerous for a boy of just twelve years old. There are ruthless drones, rich families fighting for power, a God with a wish for revenge, and connecting them all are the sentient space trains that link all the worlds in the galaxy with each other.“You step aboard a train, and the train goes through a K-gate, and you step off on another planet, where the sun that was shining on you a moment ago is now just one of those tiny stars in the sky.”But apart from the incredible world building and the thrilling heist, it are the diverse characters that make this story so compelling. Most of them are people of colour – white people are the minority – and among them we find men married to men, and women married to women. The humanlike droids Nova and Flex don’t only raise questions about humanity but also about gender, and the space trains themselves show that you don’t need a human body to have character. I also think it’s fascinating that many of the characters are morally grey, including Zen. He’s a good kid, but not a good hero:"He wasn’t out to save the day, he just wanted to save himself and Nova.” To find such an imperfect hero in a middle-grade book is rare, but then again, none of the characters in this book are one-dimensional. Everyone, even the ‘villains’, have their own goals that make them neither good or bad. So I would recommend Railhead to the curious ones. To the readers who like space and thieves and trains; who want to go on a heart-pounding adventure with eccentric characters whom asks us questions about humanity, authority, and knowledge. This wild train ride certainly deserves four stars, and although you can read this as a stand-alone, I'm definitely interested in reading the second novel.Read here my reviews of the other books in the Railhead series: #2 Black Light Express | #3 Station Zero (upcoming)

  • Dana
    2018-10-21 03:00

    More middle grade than YA, but I did enjoy this sci-fi adventure. At times it felt a little jumbled and all over the place, however the uniqueness of the world kept me interested. Giving personalities to trains was pretty cool. Hard to find much to say about this, while I enjoyed it for the most part it was still rather middle of the road. The ending was very frustrating. 2.5/5

  • Lindsay
    2018-11-12 06:49

    A heist, stargates, a space railway, sentient trains, robot friends and super-AIs. Why haven't you read this yet?Humanity has spread to the stars via a network of K-gates which are only passable in a sealed environment traveling at speed, so ... trains. The K-gate network is a multi-world rail network traveled by super-advanced trains with AIs. In one corner of the galaxy "railhead" and thief Zen Starling seems to be in more trouble than usual.Zen finds himself performing a "simple" heist, but soon finds himself caught up in an ancient grudge match between the ruling classes of this society, with the future fate of humanity in the balance.This reads like a YA version of The Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton and has elements of Hyperion by Dan Simmons as well, but has its own unique flavor besides. There's themes about different levels of intelligence and how they see each other and what they want. There's also some quiet elements of affection between all of the main players. The agent of the imperium could very easily have been an obsessive and vindictive one-dimensional character, but he was far from that. Raven, the "bad guy", has so many layers that it's difficult to condemn him. It's got a lot of depth for a YA book and deserves to be read more widely than it has been.

  • aaron rourke
    2018-10-27 05:53

    my my, what a struggle this one was. *das me strugglin through this garbage**das me once again, in the garbage compacter that this book was**das me asking dis garbage book what it thinks it is* aaanyways, i think i've made my point nice and clear. for the first 40 to 50% of railhead, i was actually enjoying myself. but, of course, things went weird and crazy and it all just went to shit. lemme break it down for ya =so, there's this dude zen. zen is a thief (naughty naughty). he gets recruited by this dude raven and his weird robot sidekick, nova. what they ask him to do is pretend to be a distant cousin of a hella wealthy dude, infiltrate a bitchin rich train and steal a mysterious artifact (ooooh!). and from then on, chaos ensues. oh also the zen dude is seriously in love with trains. (i know i suck at summaries, plz don't hate me)but yeah, that's what happened. and funnily enough, i enjoyed it! except that part of the plot literally only lasted for around 40%. what should have been the main attraction is sidled off into the background. and from there on, it all just goes a bit rampant. i expected a whole load of shit to go down on the train and the zen dude would find the mysterious artifact at the very end of the novel, but it all seems to wrap itself up pretty soon. that's why i think philip reeve just decided to go a bit haywire. like, for the most intriguing part of the story to end so quickly? for it all to just go heads up and then skip away into the most random tangent? for the story to turn into some kind of romance for zen and his weird robot girlfriend, nova? it basically had me like this:another thing i need to mention is the characters. talk about a bunch of one-dimensional, dim witted and forgettable people. going into this, i expected it to be like an interstellar six of crows. therefore, zen would be like kaz brekker. and looking back on that now, i can only laugh maniacally. mwahahahahaha. ok so zen is like the dullest, most boring character ever. he has zero personality and really, he's just a meh kind of thief. his dialogue is in no ways witty or humorous. god, he's just so utterly forgettable. at times when he was getting up to go and do shit, i was all like:it's a big-ass load of hell to the nah from me. also, his whole thing with nova? seeing them as friends is plausible, i guess, but love interests? that felt wrong. tbh it was heavily forced. there was nothing natural about it, no chemistry, not any kind of spark. it came up out of nowhere.ok so far i've just been shitting on this book. let's add in some positives. i loved the diversity. the majority of the characters in this are dark skinned and come from all different kinds of backgrounds, which i admired. most novels are primarily white with the rare ethnic characters popping in here or there, so it was most definitely refreshing. also there were some LGBT characters too. one of the robots is gender fluid which i thought was absolutely amazing. also, there were like brief mentions here and there to some LGBT couples which i thought was a nice little nod. it wasn't all up in your face like some other books that just go:LOOK I MADE A GAY CHARACTER. I'M SO DIVERSE, NOW GIMME A MEDAL!!!it got the balance just right. also, the writing and world-building wasn't half bad, hence the 2 stars instead of one. however, the whole talking trains thing was just ridiculous. a bit too much like thomas the tank engine for my liking. one more thing i need to mention before we wrap this up is the ending. basically, zen and his new robot girlfriend decide to go off on this train into a portal that'll take them to a fantastically imaginative new world. and zen leaves his family behind. this felt like a bit of a reckless decision for me and it was kinda out of place. like, i get that the author has to take the novel somewhere in order for there to be a sequel, but this felt like a step too far. zen literally abandons everything in order to be all "i can show you the world" with the robot chick. ah well it was just something that irked me. overall, i think i understand now that books about trains and supposed heists and robots and intergalactic travel just ain't for me. until the next read folks.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    2018-10-22 02:56

    DNF at 100 pages in. I think I would've loved this book if I'd read it at a younger age. Unfortunately, I think this series is no longer for me. The characters are fine, the dialog is well-written, and the worldbuilding is interesting, but this is far more middle-grade than anything else. Not my thing. The writing is really getting on my nerves. It's really immature, complete with that severe overuse of ellipses here. Oh well. (Review not posted, as I don't have much of a review so much as a realization that this series is no longer for me.)

  • Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
    2018-11-12 05:50

    Railhead was a book that I had seen in my local library and appealed to me since at the time, I was looking for a science fiction novel to read and enjoy. However after finishing this one, I'm feeling slightly disappointed by how the story turned out. Zen Starling is a thief and goes stealing lots of people's processions. He also lives in the Great Network which is full of trains and railway lines so exploring the areas is his main priority. He meets Raven who challenges him to steal from the Emperor's train and pretend to be a relative from the Emperor's family, he works with his friend Nova to uncover hidden secrets and not get killed in the process. With an interesting concept and lots of twists that I generally didn't see coming, a number of things sadly dampened my expectatations. The terminology was confusing at times to understand, I struggled to connect with Zen as a character. He did remind me at times of the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist however which is one of the fictional characters that I enjoy. The last thirty pages in particular were extremely thrilling but by this point, I felt that the writing style just didn't work for me. The ending was also a cliffhanger which I'm not a huge fan of.I have tried to read Mortal Engines by the same author in the past but ended up DNF'ing it twice due to the complexity of the plotline. I am most likely not going to be reading the sequel for this one.

  • Helen
    2018-11-13 04:01

    4.5 StarsWhat a delightfully weird read. I don't think even it's harshest critics could deny that this book brings something completely different to YA sci-fi, which is quite an achievement as this is definitely an over-saturated market. Railhead follows Zen Starling, a petty thief who's recruited by the mysterious Raven to infiltrate the most powerful family in the galaxy and steal something for him. The story is set thousands of years in the future and revolves around an intergalactic rail network that goes through tunnels which essentially function like wormholes; a distance of ten thousand light years becomes a short commute to work on these trains. I love this concept, with the idea of each station being in a different, distinct world. Some worlds are industrial and smoggy, such as Zen's home, and others are constantly sunny and filled with the holiday homes of the galaxy's richest. Maybe one of the reasons I loved this concept so much, aside from the refreshing novelty of it all, was because I'm a bit of a 'railhead' myself and have always enjoyed travelling on trains. Although this intergalactic train service certainly puts my own commute through a small stretch of English countryside into perspective.As if this rail network wasn't strange enough, the trains themselves seem to be alive and have their own thoughts which they are able to communicate to people. Each train has its own distinctive character, from the sadisticThought Foxto the incredibly sassyDamask Rose , a train which probably has more wit and humour than most literary characters I've read.''It was not a train that said much, or sang for joy as it sped along, the way other trains did, but after it had smashed that barrier it laughed softly to itself. The deep, unsettling sound gurgled out of the speakers in the carriage ceiling, startling Zen, who sat perched on the edge of his seat, impatient for the journey to be over.'' This book also addresses deeper issues of gender and what it really means via the 'Motorik' (life-like robots who can change gender at will), and also issues of what it means to be human, via the very same Motorik. One of the main characters, Nova, is one of them and it wasn't lost on me that she also happened to be the most compassionate and emotionally sensitive character in the book. Nova herself certainly doesn't see what makes her so different from Zen, besides the fact that she is made from a different substance. ''I am human,'' she said. ''I have a processor for a brain instead of a lump of meat, and my body is made from different substances, but I have feelings and dreams and things, like humans do.''Deep stuff for what was originally marketed as a children's sci-fi novel. However, there were other bizarre elements in this world which I felt weren't executed quite as well as the sentient trains. The 'Hive Monks', figures made up from insects who are at some point able to become sentient (for some reason...?), were just creepy and I felt as if they just unnecessarily weighed down the plot. Zen didn't like being around them, I didn't like reading about them, and I don't know why the author felt the need to include any more bizarre sci-fi elements. I hope they'll be absent from the sequel.All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I'm rating it at 4.5 stars because it genuinely surprised me and broke away from the typical mould of sci-fi novels, with regards to both the plot and the relationship between the characters. Although I generally round down my 4.5 star ratings to 4 stars, the fact that this book is so underrated and practically unheard of on the sci-fi scene, makes me more inclined to be generous. So I'll round it up to five stars and hope the second book can maintain the high standard of the first.

  • Gabry
    2018-10-19 02:57

    3.5, in realtà.È uno stile molto descrittivo, non ci si può distrarre un attimo perché viene descritto ogni minimo particolare di questo mondo futuristico.Il punto forte è proprio l’ambientazione, i treni che viaggiano nello spazio, i Motorik, i Monaci Alveare e le famiglie imperiali.Il protagonista ho cominciato ad apprezzarlo da metà libro mentre ho amato Nova, la piccola Motorik con le lentiggini! Un bel cattivo, con un buon piano e ben costruito. La storia magari un po’ prevedibile in alcuni punti, ma sono comunque curiosa di leggere il seguito!

  • Kogiopsis
    2018-10-17 05:54

    "The Guardians mean well, but they have shunted the whole human race onto a branch line of history, and we keep trundling round in circles. It's time someone changed that."A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No external considerations went into this review.I've been meaning to read Philip Reeve for years, but the library gods have always conspired against me - the first Hungry Cities book is never in the same branch that I am, ever, and since Fever Crumb is set in the same universe, I don't want to just start there... but after this book, I'm going to need to make more of an effort, because Reeve's writing is fabulous.Sci fi and fantasy are my 'home' genres, my literary comfort zone, but the more I read the more a sense I have that not all of them are really... written in a way that reflects the modern world of their authors and audiences. There's such a wealth of history to both genres, ideas that have been proposed and explored and re-examined, tropes that have become iconic or hated - and of course, the people who tend to grow up to write speculative fiction are also those who grew up reading it, so they're saturated in decades-old conventions, and in a lot of ways even the most diligent author ends up echoing those conventions.What was immediately refreshing to me about this book was how much it felt like a projection of the future really grown out of our current world. The technology feels like a natural derivation of current innovations (drones, and a vast interstellar internet known as the Datasea), the worldbuilding pushes biotech and 3-D printing into the limelight, and the culture is big and messy and... I don't know how to say this other than it has a Millennial feel to it that I loved. It's also a setting in which the vast majority of people aren't white, to the point that seeing someone who is is extremely weird. Add to that a few little nods to science fiction's history, like the fact that the energy of the train gates is 'Kwisatz Haderech' energy, named for "one of the languages of Old Earth", or the mention of Klingon as one of those languages, and it's just... simultaneously so much more concrete and so much more creative than a lot of the science fiction settings I've encountered.I'd like to talk about the plot of this book, but honestly I'm not sure I can discuss the most interesting aspects. Of course, it's not just a heist story; when is anything just a heist story? Politics, morality, radicalism, survival, prejudice - all of these factors come into play to varying degrees. Perhaps most fundamentally, it's a story about Zen Starling becoming more than he was and more than he imagined he could be. And, like many science fiction stories, it's about what humanity means, both in terms of the definition of personhood and a sense of what we, as a species, are meant to be. As Robert Browning said, "A man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" Science fiction is one of the ways we reach, and Railhead does a lovely job of portraying that, especially in its resolution.Characters I can discuss, if perhaps not as many or in as much depth as I want to. Essentially, it boils down to two:Zen Starling struck me as... someone soft-hearted, despite his criminal livelihood, who simply wanted stability and security and the chance to experience the beauty of the universe. It made him sympathetic, as he was sucked into centuries-old schemes, because his desires were so simple. He's not caught up in the drama so much as dragged helplessly into it, wanting nothing more than to do what is asked of him so he can get out.Nova was one of those characters who fundamentally gets at the question of what it means to be human. (Interestingly, the book mentions that androids like her have been reclassified as 'human' to allow them to serve as cheap labor despite quotas designed to keep robotic workers out- another layer to the conversation.) She suffers a little bit from being the only female character really present for most of the book, and functioning largely as support for Zen to boot, but she's still interesting to read about, and the interplay between her personality and Zen's preconceptions about Motoriks makes for an interesting development as they begin to get to know each other. Other characters' participation and development is too spoilery to be mentioned here. However, about all of them I can say this: when I finished, I was left with the strong sense that this book needs a sequel. It absolutely can stand alone, but there are so many drastic changes in the resolution, so many characters embarking on new paths, that there are clearly more stories to be told in this universe. I hope Reeve chooses to do so, because I'd love to read them.P.S. Other cultural thing I loved, but couldn't work in earlier: marriages, both dynastic and romantic, between queer couples. Also, there was a genderfluid character, which is always exciting! (view spoiler)[I wish they hadn't been both a) a robot and b) killed off at the end, because both of those fit into really awful patterns regarding non-gender-conforming characters, but I enjoyed Flex while they were alive, especially because their art - a trait so often thought of as purely human - was held up as exemplary enough to sway a loco's decisions. (hide spoiler)]

  • Jason
    2018-11-12 05:07

    5 Stars Railhead Philip Reeve is a magical science fiction cyberpunk adventure. I rounded up this review to full marks because of how imaginative and just darn fun this adventure is. Zen Starling, is our main protagonist, our star of the story and is a young man(with a great name too). This is a far future story. Zen is small time Thief and an otherwise mischievous young man that has spent most of his life moving from one place/world to another with his sister and crazed mother. Zen is a Railhead, a person that lives to travel on the sentinet trains that travel through "worm holes" from world to world. Reeve has created a wonderful world of inventions, science, and near magical technologies. There is a great deal of world building and some cases backstory that makes this book work.Some big themes are explored in this book. Love is an underlying theme to the whole thing. What it means to be human is explored. And more. Railhead is fast paced and well written. Although this book is appropriate for the young adult crowd, it is not written down to them. Reeve fills the pages with action and imagination and I loved it.A fantastic read that fans of science fiction, cyberpunk, and even fantasy will enjoy.

  • Tammy
    2018-11-14 03:51

    The nitty-gritty: An instant classic, Railhead deserves a spot up there with some of the best young adult fantasy/science fiction ever written.The train was gone, but he could still see her, striding along beside him in the sodium glow from the trackside lamps. The smell of space clung to her, rich and smoky. What was this that he was feeling? It frightened him, whatever it was.Finding a book that gives you the same feeling as a beloved favorite is a rare thing, so rare, in fact, that it’s happened to me only a handful of times. Railhead is now one of these books for me, and the book it reminded me of isn’t the same in any way, except that it gave me a similar tingly feeling that I had just discovered something special. The book I’m talking about is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (actually, the entire series is quite wonderful), which to this day remains at the top of my “best ever” list. Railhead has the same sense of wonder, complex plotting and fierce imagination. Reeve seamlessly incorporates his world-building details into an action-packed story that does more than just entertain—it delivers on emotional content as well. And in order to make your readers feel emotions, you must have deeply developed characters, and believe me when I say the characters in this story will stick with me for a long time.So yes, I LOVED Railhead. I sobbed at the end. I feared for the characters’ lives. My heart pounded every time a train rushed through a K-gate. I fell in love with Zen and Nova (especially Nova!) and Flex and Raven and the Damask Rose and the Thought Fox. I cringed in horror—but was also fascinated by—the Hive Monks. I wanted to grab random people off the street and read aloud to them from the book, because Reeve’s prose demands it. But let me back up a little and set things up for you…Zen Starling is a petty thief and a “railhead,” a kid who hops on trains and rides from world to world and back again. In this future, a vast galaxy of planets and moons are connected by the mysterious K-gates, portals that lead instantaneously from one world to the next. Through these gates rush the trains on a system of rails called the Great Network, stopping at each world the way our trains stop at subway stations.Zen lives in near poverty with his mother and his sister Myka, and earns money for the family by stealing and selling jewelry and other small items he can easily swipe. But Zen’s activities have attracted the attention of a mysterious man named Raven, who has a very interesting proposition for him. Raven is desperate to get his hands on an artifact that is secreted away on the royal Noon family’s train, and Raven believes that Zen is just the one to steal it for him. Zen agrees to the job—and the paycheck that Raven promises him—and he and Raven’s human-like android Nova set off to complete the job. But things don’t go quite as planned, and Zen finds himself on the run from not only the Noon family, but some powerful higher-ups as well.OK, let’s talk about the trains first, because I know you want to:-) Reeve's trains are sentient and can think and speak, and when they are attacked or break down, they are able to self-heal. And just like the humans, there are good trains and bad trains, and just like humans, it’s not always easy to tell who’s who. Raven’s train is the Thought Fox, who is conniving and distrustful, just like Raven. My favorite train was the Damask Rose, an old abandoned train that Zen and Nova use to escape the Noon family. Reeve describes his trains in loving and joyful detail, and Zen is entranced by each train he meets, just like a classic car enthusiast might be. I loved the relationships that formed between the humans and the trains, and throughout the course of the story, they save each other more than once.And you can’t talk about the trains without mentioning the K-gates. As the story goes, the gates were created by the Guardians, god-like creatures who rule the worlds and keep order. There are exactly 964 K-gates, each one leading to a different world. Imagine the story possibilities, if Reeve had more time to explore his galaxy! But each world he does describe is unique and magical, and those descriptions made me want to find my own train and hit the rails.I loved so many of the characters, but my very favorite was Nova, a “Motorik,” androids that were developed to make life more efficient for humans. Nova is special, though, and has “taught” herself to be human, which she wants to be more than anything in the world. She’s given herself freckles and she watches old movies, little things that she thinks will help her pass as human. Nova’s growing relationship with Zen was one of my favorite parts of the story, although Reeve puts them through hell, and there are plenty of tears before the end.My other favorite character was another Motorik named Flex, who changes sex halfway through the story (because Motoriks can do that!). Flex is an artist who has made a reputation for himself as a tagger, and his greatest joy is painting trains. And of course there is Zen, a boy who justifies stealing because he’s protecting his family. Zen doesn’t always make the right decisions (but then what kind of story would this be if he did?), but I never stopped rooting for him. And Raven—I've barely talked about him at all! Raven turned out to be one of the most interesting characters in the book. (And that's all I'm going to say here...)I’ve read other reviews that call the ending a cliff-hanger, but I have to disagree. Yes, it is an open-ended ending, but for me it hit all the right notes. I was left with a feeling of hope and possibility and I loved the ending just as it is. (Although I did just hear that Reeve will be writing a sequel to Railhead (!!) which makes me over-the-moon happy.)There are so many other things I could talk about: the Station Angels, Malik, the Hive Monks, the datasea, and so much more—but I don’t want to give away all of the gems of Railhead. Rather, I want all of you to read this book, and right away if possible. Hey, I need someone to talk to about it!Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

  • Lisazj1
    2018-11-15 05:00

    4.5 stars, and I absolutely loved this! Wildly imaginative, incredible world building, and the same can be said for the story as well. Great, layered characters living in a very diverse society, and a heist with just a little romance mixed in had me glued to the page all the way to the end!I had this book on my tbr list forever because it sounded interesting and it surpassed all my expectations. It definitely will not take me as long to get to Black Light Express. This is an awesome gift from The Birthday Elf, who doesn't want to tell me who she is. *but might have outted herself! ;)* Thank you so much, I really enjoyed reading!! xx

  • Ari
    2018-10-17 07:59

    The most interesting of this story is its world building.Taken place centuries ahead (maybe, being realistic here ^^) when earth refers as old earth, where there's inter-galaxies train which have its own consciousness, when consciousness entity not always in human form, and a lot more I never imagine...Story wise though, not so much. It's follow many YA stories out there.Zen is a petit thief recruit by a mysterious man to steal an object. Zen get attached with his companion, an android girl. When this android girl get into trouble, Zen drag everyone else to save this girl. *Yawn*OK, next book!

  • Fred
    2018-11-03 01:00

    This was a DNF for me.Really really not for me! This book is very pacy; it's very focused on galaxies and different worlds within space, it's obviously a sci-fi, and it follows a boy named Zen who is a thief and he enjoys using this system to his advantage and travelling between two different worlds.It's very gritty teenage fiction; there's lots of action...that is every genre I don't like: YA, action, sci-fi. For that reason, I really didn't gel with this book.If you enjoy really typical teenage fiction, if you really enjoy books that focus on galaxies and space, if you enjoy books that have lots of plot and twists and turns, then you WILL really enjoy this because this book has a lot of merit for its genre, it does!!But if you don't enjoy those things, avoid this book. I did not gel with it but loads of people love it for the very reasons that I don't! I just could not connect to the genre Philip Reeve used.

  • Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
    2018-10-18 05:59

    Riding the Rails -4.5 stars...Railhead is the story about a street urchin and thief named Zen Starling. One day he is approached by a mysterious stranger who hires him to infiltrate the Emperor's train and steal an heirloom. Zen is ultimately a "railhead" so he jumps at the chance to ride the rails and explore the Great Network, no matter what the cost.What first attracted me to Railhead was the very cool train world that I got a glimpse of in the blurb. I never imagined though that it would be as complex and detailed as it was. The author went all out on this world and it just blew my mind. I loved the creativity that went into the characters, the trains and the different worlds at each station but it was hard for me to actually picture a lot of it in my head. I need pictures! I was so enamored by the world that I wanted to be able to visually see it. The book just didn't do it enough justice. I think it can only come to life so much on paper or in your head and this is a world that needs color and sound and imagery on a three-dimensional scale. What it really needs is a theater! It would make such a fantastic movie so I really hope to see it on the big screen one day!*Just a note to any future readers so you don't do what I did- there is a very nice glossary at the back of the book! There wasn't a table of contents though so I read the entire thing without any clue there was a glossary until I got to the very last page. It would have been nice to have that while I was reading.**I received this ARC from NetGalley & Capstone in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! 

  • Montzalee Wittmann
    2018-10-24 23:54

    Railhead by Philip Reeve is a superb fantasy/science fiction book. It is filled with so much unique imagination, it was refreshing. It was a guessing game throughout the book figuring out who was really the good guys, was our hero doing the right thing, how was he getting out of this, and so on... It was a great ride! The boy of the story was not who we think he is, the robot the helps him is more than a robot, so is others that help him. The man who hires him has many secrets that is later exposed. In this strange world the author makes, trains transport people from one part of the galaxy to another through gates but the trains are living things with personalities. At the jump sites, the gates where the trains jump from one spot to another, people watch for the 'angels' which seem to linger there briefly. These angels come into play. This is such an imaginative book, I loved it! I hope there is book 2. I received this book from NetGalley for a honest review and it in no way effected my rating or review content.

  • Katie
    2018-10-19 08:09

    I really loved this book. Sci-fi, steampunk and a splash of something magical :) The characters were great, lots of twists and turns in the story,but the best part...THE TRAINS!!!Sentient trains! Each with their own personalities. Some were total badasses some were super sweet and two of them were in love! How cute is that!? Anyway I'm totally looking forward to the next book in this series.

  • Mary (BookHounds)
    2018-10-31 04:46

    Zen Starling survives by stealing small objects and fencing them to Uncle Bugs (who is really a hive of bugs in humanoid form) while his mother deals with her mental issues and his sister works as a factory laborer. He is also a "Railhead" who loves to travel on the trains that connects the worlds together by tunnels called K-Gates which propel the cars through hyperspace. When a mysterious man named Raven asks him to steal a mysterious box, his life becomes extremely complicated and pulled into political intrigue that could destroy the universe.This is one of those books that will truly capture your imagination. As with all Science Fiction, world building can make or break a story and this one is so seemless that you will think all of these places exist and trains really can take you to a new planet. The other characters are perfectly placed so you have a heroine in the form of a robot, named Nova, who wishes to be human. There is also an ambigous anti-heroine that is in line to be Empress and Threenody is that one character who has the will to do right, but can she?The future certainly looks bright but with elements of mythology like Greek Gods involved, everything becomes tricky. I was racing along trying to figure out if Zen would suvive Raven's machinations and Threenody's good side would help him or kill him. I can't even explain how much I loved this book. If you are up for a political thriller with a Sci-Fi background, then you have found your next favorite thing.

  • Lara (Bookish_turtle)
    2018-10-30 01:03

    When I reflect back on this, it was an excellent book with such unique concepts, mostly great characters and excellent world-building. But I just never got into it when I was reading. The writing style just didn't appeal to me and I didn't feel that it fit with the story. The concept and setting were both brilliant. It is a really unique world, rich in detail which Reeve has created. I loved the way the society was structured. The way details were gradually revealed throughout the novel was quite well done, and I was really fascinated by the concept of K-gates.Also, there are plot twists everywhere! This book is so unpredictable. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, something new would happen and I would be questioning everything all over again. I could never guess what would happen next.Sometimes I found the storyline confusing and hard to follow though. There was a lot of new terminology in addition to the unusual names for people and places. Even with the glossary at the back I still thought that the story was hard to follow.Some of the dialogue was also inconsistent and I didn't think it flowed very well. Some chunks were really quite blunt, cute and funny like this:"You came back for me?""Yes!""Well, that was stupid," she said. "And very nice of you."But then there were parts which were borderline meaningful but I just thought were weird: "When I was up there, and I thought I'd never see you again, I felt as if my heart would break. My heart is not made of self-repairing compounds, Zen Starling." The dialogue just didn't work for me. Also, Zen as a character was complex and well written, but I just didn't like him. At all. (view spoiler)["If he could steal Nova back from death perhaps it would make up for all the deaths he caused at Spindlebridge." Um, what?! You just killed all those people, and without you Nova would never be in the situation. Just because you went back for her you think that covers it? Also, does he ever feel any remorse? Because it doesn't seem like it!(hide spoiler)]Anyways, it was a great concept and brilliant world which was created, but it just didn't work for me. Maybe I'll read the sequel, maybe I won't. It ended on a cliff-hanger, but I'm not sure if I can be bothered to read it. I don't think it's fair to give this book only two stars, it probably deserves three or four, but this is how I felt about it so I'm going to do it anyway.

  • ~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books
    2018-11-12 00:11

    Read this review and more at The Fantasy NerdsMaybe officially 2.5 stars.This is a story that with a setting that is absolutely gorgeous. The descriptions of all the planets and their beauty, the Great Network and K-Gates. The list goes on and on. Reading this at times felt like looking at art.The concept of the Great Network and the gates in themselves are nothing really special. Trains that transport people incredibly quickly across the universe: we have teleportation in pretty every science fiction story ever so that in itself is not exactly awe-inspiring. What kind of clinches the deal on it is the fact that the trains are sentient.Yes, trains that talk and think and have behavioral traits. And they are not alone! Pretty much everything in this world has some level of sentience. A kind of creature introduced in this story were the Hive Monks: a bunch of beetle-like bugs that have grouped together to make a kind of rudimentary skeleton that they all work together in a school of fish sort of way to “drive.” Together, they have sentience. If they ever fall apart from being on being though they are little more than normal bugs.The history in this universe and the backstory of one of the characters that drives the story, Raven, is equally intricate. Love and gods and computers and the datasea and human exploration make for a wonderful backdrop for a story.However, the story that is actually being told in this book, that of Zen Starling, does not live up to the setting that it takes place in.Zen’s mother has been on the run from imaginary enemies his whole life, perpetually keeping them in poverty as she becomes unable to care for herself and her children. Zen’s sister finds work at a factory while Zen turns to thievery. He is recruited by man known only as Raven to steal an item from the most prominent family in the universe, the Noons.More than anything though Zen’s story was just generally underwhelming against the setting it took place in. Yes, what he is hired to steal does have pretty big ramifications for the universe but the story ended before those ramifications had a chance to develop. Zen himself didn’t really see the big deal in it so how can the reader?There are a few really interesting characters introduced in this section of the book. But once Zen’s story separated from theirs it was like the author had no idea what to do with them anymore and just sort of wrote in a story that made sense but was kinda pointless so it wasn’t a loose end at the conclusion of the book.It really bothered me that Threnody’s story ended like it did.No, I take that back.Ultimately, I was happy with how it ended but wish a lot more time and focus had been spent on getting it there. It really felt like once Zen had no more need for her the author just shoved her in a place that made the most sense and put no more focus on her story. And she was probably my favorite character! I think it comes down to the author having an under-developed skill at writing multiple storylines in one.The rest of the book was…okay. I liked it but doubt I will be really recommending it to anyone.

  • Shayla
    2018-11-11 07:57

    Not bad!I enjoyed this book off and on. The story focuses on a poor kid named Zen Starling who lives in the future where space travel is done on trains through K-gates, and the whole Network is controlled by the Emperor and his family who are sort of controlled by these god-like beings called the Guardians, who supposedly created the Network and K-gates. Zen gets tangled up in a scheme where he's used as a pawn and wouldn't have anything to do with the plot except that he was unwillingly throw into everything.The Good: This is my first time reading anything by this author, but he's clearly a very imaginative and creative guy. I like how nothing really made sense logically and how he didn't bother trying to explain things with fake science. Dude just went for it, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief and believe that thousands of bugs coming together could create an intelligent being. Diversity! For the most part, everyone in the book is just brown. While I didn't fall in love with any of the characters, they were all pretty cool and interesting. Zen is sort of defined by this line:"I'm not on any side," said Zen. "Just my own."My favorite character was probably Raven. I just really enjoyed the moral ambiguity and I wish (view spoiler)[he hadn't died (hide spoiler)]. The BadThe whole thing was sort of underwhelming. It's a pretty excellent story, but I was almost never super absorbed by it. The best part was all the Snowden-esque stuff with Raven, and that wasn't a big part until the end. I think I might have enjoyed this more if it had been longer and more developed because I thought a lot of stuff could have been expanded upon. Then again, I'm glad it wasn't longer because my attention was waning toward the end. There were definitely a few moments that should have been emotional, but weren't because we weren't given much time to get to know characters and all that.I'm not a fan of artificial intelligence and pretending robots can be human if they "feel" enough. This might be the insensitive side of me talking, but like...a robot is a robot, lol. I don't care if they have freckles, I'm not going to swoon over a romance where half the couple isn't human, sorry. I saw it coming from a mile away, but I was still hoping Reeve wouldn't go there.Overall, it was a good book, but also kinda meh in certain aspects. I will definitely read the sequel because the ending of this one was strong and I'm excited to see what happens next. I also want to read more of this author's work because he's got some fresh ideas. I'm still smiling at the idea of trains that can talk.

  • Lucy
    2018-11-01 08:11

    A breathtakingly original and fast-paced scifi adventure. Railhead is one of those books that sounds absolutely ridiculous when you try to explain it - set in a future where travel between worlds is possible aboard sentient trains (yes, you read that correctly), Railhead follows street urchin Zen Starling as he attempts to steal a seemingly innocuous box from the Emperor’s private train, and finds himself caught up in events which could change the universe as he knows it forever.Like a lot of bookish British twenty-somethings I’ve been a fan of Reeve since I first read (and ended up bawling over) Mortal Engines when I was in my early teens. But while the sequels never really captured my heart in the same way, Railhead reminded me exactly why I loved Mortal Engines so much - Reeve’s world - complete with flying stingrays, a genderfluid android who can change their gender presentation at will, bugs which form humanoid hives, and digital gods who very rarely listen to the prayers their followers upload - is so brilliantly imaginative and entertaining that even though Reeve’s protagonist was (intentionally) not particularly likeable I still found myself unable to put Railhead down.Railhead isn’t perfect - I found the characters a little too two-dimensional at times, and the romance felt forced. As much as I liked it, Mortal Engines is still my favourite Philip Reeve novel. But if you like diverse, thoughtful and thought-provoking speculative fiction, I really recommend picking up a copy.Publisher: Oxford University PressRating: 4 stars | ★★★★✰Review cross-posted to Paperback'd

  • Jessica
    2018-11-10 01:07

    The world Phillip Reeve has created is AWESOME. Not since the Potter books has a book held my interest as well as this one did. I was completely surprised by how much i love this book. I have hopes that there will be a book two. It is a standalone, but there is so much possibility with the way this ended.This book is set in the future and follows a young, poverish thief named Zen. Zen is a railhead and lives to ride in these trains that run from portal to portal around the universe were society has settled (kinda like gojng down a pipe in Super Mario Bros video games). We have trains that think on there own, an android designed to be humanlike (Raven) , groups of insects hive together that form a sort of very intellegent creature, and so much more. This book starts out great and doesn't let up until the end. I love the relationship between Zen and Raven. I love the trains, I love them alot. It is young adult, but that didn't stop me from loving this at 33 years of age.I recommend this to anyone who likes sci/fi or fantasylooking to lose themselves in an easy to read book. This is easily in my top ten books of all time.Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ebook for review purposes.

  • Michael Justine
    2018-11-03 06:47

    An imaginative concept that suffered from having one-dimensional characters. For me, the characters are just as important as the plot and in this case, Zen Starling isn't characterized well, so there was never a point in my reading experience, where I connected with him. There's also something about the writing that just didn't hook me to keep reading. I never felt any tension even in the action-packed scenes.I was really looking forward to this. I'm terribly disappointed.

  • Alice
    2018-10-25 04:49

    I want to live inside Philip Reeve's head. That man has an incredible imagination.. I was fell in love with Mortal Engines, but OMG this new world he has created is even richer than that one. There is just so much to this book! The world is a future humanity based upon a network of basically magical teleportation railways called K-Gates that allow incredibly fast travel between different planets. I love this! They were created by mysterious Godlike A.I. beings called the Guardians for the benefit of humanity. Living on one of these interconnected worlds is Zen Starling. He is a petty thief who steals partially for the thrill and partially to help support his sister and mentally ill mother. Then, naturally.. he gets drawn into lots of adventure by a mysterious stranger.. including a heist (I do love a good heist)!I already said this but this world is SO rich. It has a history, and a political system with lots of a tension. Impressive for a 296 page children's book. There are humans of course, but there are "Hive Monks" who are basically a collection of insects on stilts (I loved this idea) and there are Motoricks who are robots. But then Zen meets Nova who has a personality and programming of her own... So yeah, there is another whole layer of "what it means to be human" to this book to!! Plus the characters are incredibly diverse in terms of race and sexuality, and there is even a character who switches gender at will! (If you could, why wouldn't you?) What I really love about this book is that there are no clear "bad guys." The plot and morality twists and turns and writhes about, and I just didn't know who was right or if anybody was wrong by the end of the book! I mean some people were wrong.. there are quite a lot of deaths in this book! Oh and the other thing that I LOVE is that the trains all have personalities! And brilliant names.It's a really fun book to read, it's so well written and I am very excited by the world it has introduced me to! There will be a sequel according to the back of the book!Oh also it has awesome illustrations on the outer and inner of the book cover that I couldn't stop looking at. I definitely recommend this one.

  • Kristel
    2018-10-20 04:12

    “You know, sometimes a thing, a system, a creation grows so old, and corrupt, and weighed down by its own baggage, that all you can do is change it. Move on. Start afresh. It's frightening, but it has to be done.”If you know me you’d know I love sci-fi books. Space, its secrets and its possibilities have always intrigued me. Imagining far away worlds on other planets, aliens and humans living together, a new kind of universe unfolded before our eyes, that’s something I want to witness but I know I never will. I would hibernate myself and wait frozen in time and see for myself a new kind of living. I am almost glad I won’t because, as usual, humans will find a way to corrupt everything.We have a main character, he is a thief and has being hired to steal a weird box from the Emperor’s train for a really pale man called Raven who is very mysterious and people want him dead. Our protagonist is a boy that I liked and hated in equal measure. His name is Zen and sometimes he really annoyed me. I know you are young, boy, but think a little bit more before making some very bad decisions. He isn’t always annoying and luckily for us he sometimes uses that big head of his to think and accept others opinions. “It’s called the Pyxis,” said Raven. “Don’t let the fancy name intimidate you. It just means ‘box’ in one of those Old Earth languages, Roman or Spanish or Klingon…”This book has many worlds (planets/moons/satellites/etc) connected by some sort of Stargates called K-gates. K-gates can only be crossed on board of trains and not just any kind of train, but sentient trains with their own names and personalities. Some are really rude, some really kind, some plain cruel. Trains can be really scary and I’m not talking “Thomas the Tank Engine” scary but worse! Thomas is one creepy and annoying train.There are also these God identities that are only artificial intelligences created but humans a long long time ago. These beings are made of data and live in the datasea that contains all the information of every single inhabitant of the Network worlds connected through the gates. They can also download themselves into fake bodies and visit the worlds. How weird and cool is that?When you think about the future with real advanced technology, you are bound to think there are also robots, right? Robots are a must! In this book there are android beings called Motoriks and we met a few of them throughout the story. I liked them a lot. Our little annoying Zen has to do the mission to steal that weird box with a motorik girl named Nova. She has freckles and she is very proud of them! Nova is the element that keeps Zen a little out of trouble. She can’t always succeed because that boy is unpredictable (read: moody).What I didn’t like because I have a terrible phobia were the insects. In these worlds live some sort of intelligent cockroaches that put themselves together to form a humanoid shape and talk. They talk and they are a sea of bugs with their bug legs and wings and everything I have nightmares every other night! Please, I don’t want talking bugs in the future!!!Before ending this review I want to warn you that there is one character that you will find annoying from beginning to end. At least that happened to me and if you have tastes similar to mine I want you to be prepared for the annoying girl called Threnody!! Beware!That being said, I would recommend this book (and the sequel will be out later this coming week) to sci-fi fans but also to the curious readers who want a little adventure.