Review: Energized

Posted: April 18, 2013 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Edward M. Lerner, Science Fiction

You think $4.00 gas is bad? Try five times that. Try rationing. That’s what life could be like starting in about two years with Edward M. Lerner’s Crudustrophe in ENERGIZED (Amazon).

Lerner poses a big “What If?” What if suddenly and catastrophically all of the Middle East’s oil supply was snuffed out? What would it be like living in a world where energy was in short supply? Would alternative energy be enough to fill the gaps?

And what if there were some people who actually liked it that way?

The story in ENERGIZED mostly revolves around Marcus Judson, NASA engineer on the Powersat One–an enormous solar power satellite that is in constant view of the sun, and then beams that energy to Earth in the form of microwaves, where it’s then distributed to the already strained U.S. power grid. Marcus is just trying to do his job convincing people that, yes, they do want a giant series of solar panels in the sky; and, no, the microwaves beamed down aren’t going to fry you. We hope.

You think $4.00 gas is bad? Try five times that. Try rationing. That's what life could be like in Edward M. Lerner's crudustrophe in ENERGIZED.

Unfortunately, there are some called Resetters who believe it would be better to just abandon the desperation of alternative energy and go back to the good ol’ pre-industrial days. Such as Dillon Russo, whose venture capitalist company on the outside appears to want to help new businesses with alternative energy, but secretly hides a Resetter and Gaia Mother Earth theology.

Then there’s Valerie, the astronomer, whose space telescope is pretty worthless with a huge powersat in the way, and calls NASA to complain. They send Marcus. Queue love story. There are a few other interesting PoV characters, but those three are the ones to really pay attention to. And for the most part Lerner does pretty well with them. They’re consistent and their motives are pretty obvious. But they aren’t the kind of characters you’ll grow to love. Well, maybe a little affectionate.

Lerner sets up the story pretty well, even if the first half of the novel feels rather slow, and the story is heavily enough foreshadowed that very little came as a surprise. I had a hard time getting through the character positioning as well as all the science mumbo jumbo–so much work to get everything just right for the climax. Once we hit about 2/3 of the way, the story finally takes off and everything that went before begins to come together.

While the characters and the plot were serviceable, they lacked pizazz. And yet I still liked what Lerner did with the story. I love the “What If” ideas in the book, how he presents them, and works around them to make a fascinating thriller of a story. Really, it’s the Powersat One that’s the main character of the book. Everything revolves around it, how it works, what it’s capable of, the problems it presents, and the sacrifices people make to either destroy or save it. ENERGIZED is worth reading if you like exploring the ideas and the “What If.”

  • Recommended Age: 18+ for comprehension
  • Language: A handful
  • Violence: References to mass killings, and some on-screen deaths, but not much blood
  • Sex: Referenced only


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