Read The Fortress at the End of Time by Joe M. McDermott Online


Captain Ronaldo Aldo has committed an unforgivable crime. He will ask for forgiveness all the same: from you, from God, even from himself.Connected by ansible, humanity has spread across galaxies and fought a war against an enemy that remains a mystery. At the edge of human space sits the Citadel—a relic of the war and a listening station for the enemy's return. For a younCaptain Ronaldo Aldo has committed an unforgivable crime. He will ask for forgiveness all the same: from you, from God, even from himself.Connected by ansible, humanity has spread across galaxies and fought a war against an enemy that remains a mystery. At the edge of human space sits the Citadel—a relic of the war and a listening station for the enemy's return. For a young Ensign Aldo, fresh from the academy and newly cloned across the ansible line, it's a prison from which he may never escape.Deplorable work conditions and deafening silence from the blackness of space have left morale on the station low and tensions high. Aldo's only hope of transcending his station, and cloning a piece of his soul somewhere new is both his triumph and his terrible crime.The Fortress at the End of Time is a new science fiction novel from Joe M. McDermott.At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied....

Title : The Fortress at the End of Time
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 33308424
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Fortress at the End of Time Reviews

  • j
    2019-02-24 09:20

    What if a guy went to a remote space station on the outskirts of the galaxy and nothing happened?

  • C.W.
    2019-02-19 09:10

    A fascinating look into the life of a clone living on the fringes of deep space with a bunch of people who don't like him. An existential look at cloning, colonization, military down time, alien war, and life at the far reaches of space. Full video review:

  • Arkadeb
    2019-03-05 13:08

    A paper-thin, pointless, boring plot, an oddly religion and sin-obsessed story, boring characters, stilted unnatural dialogue, internal inconsistencies...this book is a litany of failures. Also I don;t think the author knows how military ranks work

  • Kate
    2019-02-22 11:11

    An intriguing premise indeed and in places an immersive read but ultimately very gloomy.

  • T. Frohock
    2019-03-15 09:17

    This is dark military science fiction, and probably one of the most compelling stories that I've read in some time. It's the hallmark of an excellent story when I've read it in August and both the characters and the plot remain fresh in my mind months later.The Fortress at the End of Time follows Captain Ronaldo Aldo's clone, who is stationed at the Citadel--a listening station at the edge of the human space. Humanity is connected by ansible and is spread across space in order to fight a mysterious enemy, but no one has seen or engaged with this enemy in many generations.The Citadel is one of the worst postings a clone can receive--a desolate outback with a barely livable planet below. McDermott uses the bare surroundings to their best effect. He neatly switches the novella's atmosphere from the claustrophobia of working in the space station's confined quarters to the immensity of space without losing a beat. But it is the overwhelming futility of the crew's existence that dominates the story. Most of the crew members work within the system to better their own lives. They've accepted the status quo and see no reason to change it, except where it might profit them.Aldo tries that route and finds himself unable to maneuver the space station's multiple intrigues. His only way out of the Citadel is to transcend his station and clone a piece of his soul somewhere new. Unable to work within the structure, Aldo makes a desperate plan for escape.There is no happily ever after here, but that is okay, because the reader is expecting a tragedy. The highlight of this story is that the tragedy isn't necessarily the end, but perhaps the beginning of something new, something better for Aldo--at the very least it is acceptance. I found The Fortress at the End of Time to be an engaging and intellectually astute novella that leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions about whether Aldo's actions were right or wrong. And that is the kind of story that is worthy of discussion.

  • Logan Aube
    2019-02-27 07:22

    I'm sorry I spent money on this book. DNF 15%The premise is intriguing, reminiscent of OLD MAN'S WAR. But that's where the positives end.The protagonist is melodramatic and unlikeable. There is no plot. There is no humor. There is no action.And worst of all, the characters speak like English is their second language: no contractions, choppy sentences, and robotic exposition.For your consideration, I offer the worst line of dialogue I've read in years:A: "That's really pathetic. It was right in front of you and you didn't know?"B: "No!"A: "Are you serious? That's very sad, Ronaldo. The stars will be yours. I will never be. We are still friends. Good-bye."*gag*

  • Justin Howe
    2019-03-07 13:22

    This military fiction* novel reads a bit like Walter Miller JR's A Canticle For Leibowitz meets Dino Buzzatti's The Tartar Steppes, which is so much my peculiar square inch of fiction I like that saying I simply liked this book is an understatement. The main character is a bit of an annoying prig, but that's not a bad thing. * I'm calling this military SF because I suspect it's truer to a lot of people's military experience (being bored a lot in far away places) than zap-pow laser marines fighting alien hordes.

  • M Hamed
    2019-03-11 12:30

    canned impotence

  • Philip Athans
    2019-03-07 09:22

    From the evocative first line—We are born as memories and meat.—to the shocking, unexpected climax, Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time is a science fiction novel reminiscent of the classic seafaring tales. In it he paints no more pleasant a picture of our future in space as was seen in the privation, the rotting teeth, the hopelessness, and the uneasy discipline of the hard-suffering mariners of the seventeenth century. This grim, intensely personal, yet immensely readable book shows that when we finally venture out into the wider universe, we’ll bring the smallest parts of ourselves along for the ride.

  • Arun Iyer
    2019-03-19 07:07

    An interesting beginning, with a tiresome journey and ultimately a boring end.Think of dead end jobs and how do people feel in such jobs and then map them to a similar situation in space. This is pretty much what this book is about. The author does well to capture the suffocation and loneliness of people in such a situation and by transferring the story to space, certain aspects of this situation are even more exaggerated giving these emotions more literal effectiveness. That is suffocation and loneliness are not just abstract quantities but more literal, created by the isolation of space.While the failings of this story are quite few, it is just that the story itself is a tiresome reading. When I began this book, I felt it might be a strange fascinating lovechild of "Rendezvous with Rama" and "The Martian". However, the central character (Ronaldo Aldo) from whose point of view we are told the story is unlikable, quite in contrast with The Martian, and the story itself detracts itself from the nitty gritty details of the station and the colony and indulges itself quite a bit with everyday socio-political drama of space, quite in contrast with Rendezvous with Rama.Of course, I must not fault it for failing my expectations, but the story in and of itself is quite boring - there is no action whatsoever happening and not to mention the very pessimistic view of the future - bias against women, transsexuals etc. does not really lend itself to a pleasureable read. Now, don't get me wrong I am not one of those sci-fi readers with rose colored glasses and very much enjoy a dystopian society but the story in the book was so mundane that I might have been reading a telephone directory from the future.Overall, I felt that this was an OK story but it had neither the nitti grittiness of a hardcore sci-fi nor the relatable socio-political drama that can keep you hooked. It tries to do both and it fails at both. The central question that kept me hooked throughout was the unforgivable sin that the central character commits and the answer at the end was quite disappointing and not really worth the time spent on this book.

  • Carlex
    2019-03-16 10:30

    Two and half stars.

  • Nthato Morakabi
    2019-03-20 12:16

    Hmmmm I actually thoroughly enjoyed it but man did I want to punch Aldo in the face. Ugh.

  • Bridget Mckinney
    2019-02-28 09:02

    Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time might be a little bit genius, but I can’t decide if I loved it or hated it. It’s got a great classic sci-fi sensibility if, but I’m generally not one for classics. It’s a novel that, while short, is often boring, but intentionally so and in a way that mostly works if you’re a patient reader. It’s got some big ideas that are worthy of considered exploration, but none that are particularly fresh. It’s solidly written with a distinctive voice and style, but there’s nothing especially exceptional about it. It’s a book that I’m glad to have read because it is a bit outside of my usual fare and a nice change, but I don’t feel compelled to read either more of McDermott’s work or more of this sort of thing in general. It’s not that The Fortress at the End of Time is unremarkable or pedestrian; it’s just a profoundly workmanlike example of its type of thing–thoughtful medium-hard military-ish sci-fi that has something to say about some stuff–if you like this sort of thing. I can easily imagine this being a book that lots of other people love, but I can’t muster any very strong feelings about it, myself.Read the full review at SF Bluestocking.

  • Gerhard
    2019-02-21 12:19

    Review to follow. Flawed, but fascinating. I always think a good book with bad bits is preferable to a bad book with no good bits.

  • Abbi
    2019-03-10 08:22

    I got this as a free book from Tor Books - I won another book, and they put this in with it as a freebie. This isn't everyone's cup of tea. I've gone back and forth about it since I finished, and my overwhelming reaction is "eh." Some interesting ideas with the ansible and clones, and I had some sympathy for Aldo and could see exactly what led to his decision. The plot was slow at times, but picked up in the second half of the book. At the same time, the writing could have been a lot better. It was very clunky, and the first half or so of the book was just an info dump. Overall, not necessarily a waste of a few hours, but I wouldn't read it again or look for other books by this author.

  • ren
    2019-02-24 11:07

    look, i tried. the first 10% of this book is really interesting, but i'm at 40% already and there is no sign of a plot. most of it seems to be about the main character rambling about his life in the citadel, with the only hint of the conflict being that is telling this story from a prison cell so something must have happened. not enough to keep me interested/reading tho.

  • Anne Leonard
    2019-03-20 11:09

    Joe McDermott sent me a copy of this to read back before it was published, and I have been derelict in writing a review, in part because this is not an easy book to review. I eventually read it twice. Before I start talking about what I liked, let me make a few statements that will help you know if the book is a book for you:• A plot summary would put it in the military SF camp, but that’s not really what it’s about. There are no space battles, and the military is dysfunctional. This is not action and adventure in the usual sense of those words. Similarly, it is not “hard” SF; there are no lovingly detailed paragraphs about technology.• It’s dense, to be read slowly and not rushed through. • It’s somber. It is not an escape novel for casual reading.The novel is the confession of Ronaldo Aldo, an ensign assigned to a space station orbiting a desert planet (the Citadel) at the far reaches of the galaxy. To be more precise, the novel is the confession of Ronaldo Aldo II, the clone of the original Aldo. In this universe, the military staffs its bases by “sending” people through an ansible; the original of the person (or thing) remains where it was, and a quantum clone materializes at the other end. A clone’s goal is to “transcend” – be recloned and reborn somewhere else. The Citadel station is neglected and forgotten by the rest of the galaxy; when Aldo arrives, he learns that many new assignees commit suicide. The stations are on guard against an ancient enemy, which may not even be real; no one knows what the enemy was like, or if it will come again, or what to defend against. The overall feeling is one of futility. Against this backdrop, Aldo serves, falls in love, and eventually develops a plan to transcend. This plan is the crime for which Aldo confesses.This book as I read it is more than anything else a book about loneliness, about the failure of human connections. It is also a novel about truth and truth-telling. Aldo may or may not be a reliable narrator; the question doesn’t really come up, because he is telling experiences, not events. The characters besides Also are distinct and believable and uncliched. The novel also captures what it is like to be engaged in uncertain, interminable war. I can imagine it resonating with US troops in Afghanistan or Iraq.McDermott makes the melancholy rich and real, with an emotional wallop at the end that left me saying Wow. One of the things he does best is convey the isolation and terror and glory of space. I don’t think I’ve read any other SF book that conveyed what being in space must be like as well as this one. I had a real sense of the immensity of the universe while I was reading. Here’s one of my favorite bits:“The silence came on so swiftly, it was misinterpreted in the ear as whooshing. Space is an instantaneous and overwhelming silence. . . . It was like black ink had been spilled in spreading lines across the celestial sphere. . . . The other half of the sky, toward the rest of the Sagittarius cluster, and the Milky Way, was a horizon line of swept marbles.”The prose is splendid: sentences perfectly constructed, no words wasted, rich and vivid details. (At times the dialogue felt artificially formal to me, lacking contractions, which is my only quibble.) McDermott also writes poetry, and that’s evident throughout the book. His words are not lush, jungly, over-adjectived language; they are precise and careful. The novel earns its beauty.It’s definitely not a book for everyone. But it’s very good at what it is.

  • Sudeep Tirupati
    2019-02-21 06:23

    4 or 4.5 stars. I can't decide on the final rating and I might change the rating in future after my thoughts settle down. Science Fiction. What would I do without Science Fiction? I have not always been a fan of science fiction and after I became a fan of science fiction I felt like that I had no connection to that guy that was not a SF fan. So was that guy the same guy as me or was there so much changed that they cannot be the same anymore? Existential crisis at it's best or worst? Another thing that I would not have associated myself in the past was Philosophy. Now, I crave for philosophical musings everyday,which brings me to this book The Fortress at the end of time by Joe. M. Mcdermott. This was a such a great mix of science fiction and philosophy and this wasn't new to the SF genre, indulging in deep philosophy, but this book stands out because even though it uses the same tropes there were some very dealt scenarios of the after effects of war with an unknown alien civilization. When I started reading this book, I was sure that I will not be liking this book what with all the mixed and bad reviews and my genuine dislike for the protagonist Ensign Ronaldo Aldo. But his character went through much development throughout the book. He is still not a good person by any means, he was just a really awkward person who is not only really selfish but also a pain in the ass to work with, but one thing that is sure to be noticed is that he was sincere to his work as long as he could, until he snaps at the end and does something that screws up everyone and everything around him. There wasn't much to talk about other characters. There were some important characters, some short but well written, some are just outright annoying. But they are all there and they do what they should. Finally, this book may be pushed under the military SF subgenre, but it is far from the action packed SF books that are more popular. This book is a slow burner( as slow as it gets) with very little plot or action, but what it is is a very character driven, philosophical, hard SF that touches really well on topics like Existentialism, loneliness, selfishness and religion( went into a weird tangent there-not a big fan).P. S I don't know if I got a bad copy or its an editing problem or the author's, but there are so many grammatical errors, errors in spellings (there were instances where the main character's name was spelled wrong Ronaldo was spelled as Renaldo WTF) which was just borderline annoying and put me off reading this at times, but it still is a good read despite all that and maybe even worth a re read sometime in the future.

  • Bernard
    2019-03-17 08:21

    I was intrigued by this book. It has a reputable publisher, an attractive title and topic, and a terrible rating on Goodreads (though with a lot of very contrasted reviews). So I bought it to find out. Basically, this the story of a spacefleet officer in a lost military outpost at the edge of the Galactic cluster (I think, maybe only edge of the Galaxy). There is a nearby planet one can hardly live on, and they stand guard against an enemy who has not been seen for eons. The only means of communication and transport is to be duplicated through an ansible, whether for objects or people. We have all the ingredients for a space opera, but this is actually an anti-space-opera. Nothing happens. We just observe the hopeless lives of those people who know that even if they get to go back to civilisation, that will only be for a clone since the original stays. Their only local future is in the terraforming of the planet, which will take for ever.At first, you read the book waiting for something to happen, but nothing does. Then some readers give up, and others, like myself take interest and wonder if this kind of life is not more credible, and interesting to watch, than the excitement of space operas. We can observe the absurd evolution of military discipline, for people who are unlikely to ever meet again the central authorities, though they can communicate instantly via the ansible. It is not an exciting book, but it is an interesting one. The lack of meaningful events (not quite total, but I avoid spoilers) forces the reader to think about the basics of this kind of life.One aspect of the book that I find intriguing is the way the characters live with this cloning system and how they may perceive their own (multiple?) identity. Not that there is much explicit content about it. This issue of identity is a fascinating one, that crops up in many stories under different guises.One major book on this topic is of course David Brin's "Kiln people", a fascinating book both for the story itself (an excellent thriller about clones) and for all the thinking about the psychological, economic, social and metaphysical implications. Another interesting book regarding this issue of identity (though it does not seem intended to be its main topic), is Les Lynam's "...Before You Leap", a time travel story.Thinking back, I do not regret the time spent on this book. Like many good things, it did require some time and care to be appreciated.

  • Jamie Rich
    2019-03-15 10:09

    The Fortress at the End of Time (Paperback) by Joe M. McDermott What a strange journey. This missive takes the shape of a confession, albeit a rather rambling and disassociate one? Our hero is his own worst enemy. And his actions have the opposite effect of what he wants. He's sent to the ass end of humanity's exploration, fresh out of War College, to a dismal and depressing post. His military carer starts out on a bad note, and continues from there. He has no real friends to speak of, and his love life is a sham. No wonder he wants out. As for the writing itself, this book is written quite well. Depressing, but well written. In the form of a confession, our hero attempts to lay his should bare, but even he can't see what is to obvious to everyone else. So I think that explains the lack of chapter breaks, which I understand, but didn't approve. Overall a worthy read, but a bit of a challenge.

  • Elena Linville
    2019-03-11 13:28

    Once in a while, I come across books that make me wonder what the author was thinking when he wrote them. Why did he think that this particular idea would make a good book? Well, Fortress at the End of Time is one of them. It almost landed in my DNF (did not finish) pile, but I received an advanced copy of it and had promised to write a review, and I don't think it's fair to write reviews on books I didn't finish. So I had to suck it up and read it to the very end. It was a struggle.I have several problems with this book one of which is the glacial pace at which the story progresses. It is so incredibly sluggishly slow. I mean a snail could move faster than this book does. And I have read some books with a slow pacing before and loved them to pieces, but that was because I was in love with the story they were telling. I didn't mind that the narrative was slow because I was immersed in the world and the characters and I didn't want the book to end.Unfortunately, it is not the case here. The story is not only slow, but also boring. There is no great evil mastermind to defeat, no life or death situations, no real mystery or conflict even. Just a bunch of people stuck in the butthole of the known galaxy on a crumbling space station. Maybe that's what the author wanted to portray - how tedious and boring such a life could be? How it brought the worse in people? Granted, it could have been an interesting exploration into the dark depths of human psyche and what we are capable of out of sheer boredom when there is no visible end to the misery in sight. And I would have been on board with that IF the author had managed to make that exploration interesting. As this book stands, it feels like the reader is serving a prison sentence along with the characters - its long, boring and I couldn't wait to be done with it.Still, this book could still have been redeemed if we had some interesting characters to bond with. I could have suffered through the slow pacing and the lackluster story if I cared for the characters. I've done that before. Unfortunately, this is not the case here.Try as I may, I never managed to bond with Captain Ronaldo Aldo, or even like him enough to care what would happen to him. He is selfish, self-centered and narcissistic. He thinks that he is better than everyone else and that he knows best what to do in any situation, nevermind the fact that others have been here for longer and have more experience managing people. He never listens to other people's advice, and often goes AGAINST that advice even when his actions have disastrous consequences time and time again. That's not a protagonist I want to follow for 272 long sluggish pages, thank you very much.As for secondary characters… there are none. Oh, there are characters aplenty on the station and the planet it orbits around, but they have no personality of their own beyond a role they play in Aldo's story. We have the typical love interest and the love rival, and the corrupted superior officer the protagonist has to work with. It doesn't matter what face those tropes wear and what names they respond to. They are forgettable and interchangeable. So all in all, I don't recommend this book. If you like sci-fi, there are plenty of other books on the subject with better stories and characters. Save yourself some time and frustration and pass this one up.PS. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Karl
    2019-02-21 05:04

    Let's call it 4.5 stars.I think this is one of the more interesting novels I've read in a while - a short meditation on character, religion, the military mindset, tossed together with a nice splash of worldbuilding.The book is something of an epistolary novel, and while the reader knows something of the ending (it's right in the blurb), the narrator's account of his mistakes still manage to engage.The prose also has a lovely melancholy feel to it.I'm very curious to read something else by McDermott.

  • Maryam
    2019-03-02 05:28

    Review first published onThe Curious SFF ReaderThe Fortress at the End of Time is a fascinating yet very depressing little book following miserable characters living in a bleak station at the edge of the universe where the suicide rate is so high people don’t even talk to recruits before months because “what’s the point of talking to you if you are going to kill yourself after right?”.So if you are expecting this book to be an action packed military SF books full of badass fighting scenes and cool characters, I wouldn’t especially recommend this.However, The Fortress at the End of Time is a truly unique book set in a future where humans can be cloned to other planets thanks to a device called an ansible. The main character, Ronaldo Aldo, is one of such clone who happens to be sent in the worst place possible, the Citadel. Humans have fought and won a war against aliens years ago near the Citadel, and now, a hundred or so of soldiers live there, trying to find a meaning to their boring lives. Aldo’s only hope is for his next clone to “transcend”, to be sent on another planet which is the closest thing to immortality in this world. The thing is, almost everyone on the Citadel hates him.Aldo is not necessarily a bad man, he is just a very awkward person and not in a cute way at all. During the entire book, he is trying his best to improve the living conditions of the Citadel but his every efforts are seen as insults by the other soldiers and he slowly becomes the scapegoat of the outpost and his victimization only reinforces his need to transcend.The Fortress at the End of Time is not an easy read, it is extremely well written and very smart but it’s not fun, it’s definitely not a light read and you are probably not going to enjoy it. I really liked what it was trying to do, it is a very ambitious book and I think it did its job well. However, it is very pessimistic and heavy and the main character is pretty unlikeable. I was rooting for him during the entire book but after reading a handful of reviews, I realized that most of the readers thought Aldo was huge prick.In my opinion, The Fortress at the End of Time explored in a fascinating way how isolation can affect human behaviours. It feels almost claustrophobic, all the humans on the Citadel know they are going to die here after living a long and dull life doing next to nothing on a rock on the edge of the universe and it’s fascinating to see how it affects their lives.If this study of humanity sounds like it might interest you, I would highly recommend it, otherwise, I don’t think that you should bother. I really liked it but I don’t mind reading very depressing SF books because oddly, it’s what I tend to gravitate towards but I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  • Jennifer Jamieson
    2019-02-20 12:20

    Ensign Ronaldo Aldo just wanted to be cloned by ansible to a good post, fly ships on missions deep into space, and get more clones promoted out to other postings. That's all anyone in the Service wants.Unfortunately, his ratings weren't particularly stellar, so his first cloning is to humanity's most remote outpost. It's so grim and boring, the person he's sent to replace committed suicide.He just wants to follow the rules and do a good job, but life out at Citadel isn't that simple.The basic premise of the book is that humanity has propagated all over space by data transmission by a tool called an ansible. It scans a person in one location, transmits data, and reconstructs them from matter at the remote location, creating a clone, or copy. When people do a good job and get promoted, they're cloned again out to someplace better.The main character isn't an admirable guy (or even an interesting one), but through boredom, frustration, and ingenuity born of desperation we watch him turn from disappointed but stubbornly optimistic to pessimistic and reckless. The story is told as Aldo recounting his 'crimes' to a confessor, and we learn that although his crime may be seen as serious, by the end you can't really blame him.For anyone who's been stuck in a dead end job in the ass end of nowhere that killed their optimism and good will, you'll probably see Aldo's unraveling as almost familiar.

  • Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
    2019-03-17 09:04

    I picked up this book for my Science Fiction/Fantasy book club. I knew within 5 pages that I would likely DNF this book. By the time I reached 38%, I was done. I couldn't read another character in The Fortress at the End of Time.After talking with my book club, no one would really recommend this book to anyone. Certainly they didn't encourage me to try again. It's like McDermott wanted to explore philosophy but wasn't certain how to expand it beyond his traditional medium of short stories. One of my friends even said, "This would have been a great 80 page novella."Sorry, McDermott, your first attempt at a novel didn't work for me. Perhaps it's best if you stick to short stories?

  • Brent Ecenbarger
    2019-03-14 09:19

    This was the first book I received as part of the Brilliant Books Monthly subscription that my wife got me for Christmas this year. For those not familiar, this is a neat service where you let the Brilliant Books people know your favorite and least favorite writers and they pick a book out for you every month (or however you set it up). I filled out their initial survey and also gave them a link to my Goodreads page, and my first book suggested was "The Fortress at the End of Time" by Joe McDermott. I own a ton of books I haven't gotten around to reading yet, so I was worried they would send one I already own. The book they sent was just released a few weeks ago, so I'm wondering if that's normal for them to pick a new release to avoid sending a duplicate (but by the same token, I hope that somebody has read the books they are sending out ahead of time to make sure the quality is high).So, enough about the service, how was the book? Overall it was good, but much like some of the early Hugo award winners I've read lately I don't know if there was anything about it that I will be able to recall five years from now as really standing out. The story takes place in a far off future where man has colonized and terraformed numerous planets and systems, but told from a realistic stand point of the practical struggles of getting resources/people (and genetic diversity) to these far off locations. The method for accomplishing it is via an Ansible (similar to the one used for communication in "Ender's Game" but on steroids) where messages can be sent instantaneously across time and space. In addition to messages however, exact replicas can also be sent across the cosmos when certain hydrogen, nitrogen, etc elements are in supply on the other side. The story is told by Ronaldo Aldo, an Ensign who begins the book knowing he will be cloned and assigned an outpost somewhere in the Milky Way. The process of cloning is that Aldo enters an ansible and immediately another version of him is generated on the receiving end. The story then shifts and is told entirely from this new Ronaldo's perspective. His assignment is a run down space station on the farthest edge of man's exploration, and his task is to watch the instruments for signs of the enemy, an alien race that was fought in a war years before Aldo's birth and not seen since. The outpost is a dump and considered the worst assignment an officer can get, and in addition to having limited resources it also has about a 50/4 ratio of men to women (if I remember right, that's the entire population of the outpost). Located near the outpost is a planet in the process of being terraformed, one that can't help but conjure visions of Arrakis from "Dune," as the planet is mostly desert and water is the scare resource that must be constantly rationed/recycled. Only a few hundred people live on the planet, which contributes to the overall crappy nature of the mission.The book has great internal logic, as the main character is not one that inspires confidence at any point in the novel and makes sense as a guy that would be rewarded with a crap assignment in an undesirable location. However that is also the biggest flaw of the book as the main character is the only one that is extensively developed and at no point is somebody the reader actively roots for. Aldo routinely alienates everybody he works with because of his arrogant attitude despite coming into the station with no idea of how anything works besides the one thing he's specifically trained for. Even when he has good intentions of helping others out, he doesn't attempt to work within the system or with others who were there before him. The ending of the book is a perfect example of this, as the character lives up to his personality throughout the rest of the book, which I found to be an interesting way to end it but may strike other readers as the cherry on top of an unpleasant read.The supporting characters are delightfully diverse (just about every race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are represented in the small cast) however the first person storytelling severely limits the character arcs of all of them beyond Aldo's views of them as people. The Betty and Veronica of Aldo's book could not be more different: a physical specimen/beauty Sergeant that is a mystery to Aldo, and a post-op transgender colonist who immediately makes her desires known, however their character arcs could best be described as "desired by Aldo, not desired by Aldo" and vice versa. Great characters are certainly not the book's strong point, but high concepts still made it an enjoyable read. The idea of transcendence (being cloned to a better station in life) was a goal of most everybody involved, but the practicality of such a thing was addressed nicely. Any benefit of the process is actually bestowed on the cloned version of yourself, and that is a new person as soon as they are created, despite the shared memories with the original. The actual motivation for sending clones places is probably easy to figure out for many, but is explained nicely late enough in the book to make it a revelation I won't spoil. The politics on the station reminded me more of stories from Battlestar Galactica than any other sci-fi I have read, so fans of that show may greatly enjoy this. So far Brilliant Books is 1 for 1 on sending an enjoyable book.

  • Xavi
    2019-03-18 10:25

    6/10Good ideas, a great scenario and a good final, but in the middle the story loses interest. A pity.Review in english: in spanish:

  • Liz (Quirky Cat)
    2019-02-25 05:15

    The Fortress at the End of Time is a science fiction novel, without all the battles and intense moments. That makes it sound tedious, and to some it may be, but I found it to be a very enjoyable read. It's almost an introspective read on the psychological burden of living on the edge of space with no hope of going anywhere or upgrading your way of life.(view spoiler)[I'll cover the warnings first: Suicide is talked about frequently in this novel. Many side characters commit suicide due to the desolation of their posting. While none of them are directly witnessed by the main character, a couple of them are described somewhat graphically.Ronaldo Aldo is just a man from Earth wanting to do his job and fly spaceships, so it would see fortunate that these are one and the same. This desire results in him being cloned out onto an isolated superfluous post, the Citadel, where he will help them watch for the long gone enemy. You'll notice I mentioned he was cloned – candidates are picked on Earth for cloning, where their data/DNA/memories are then transported through ansible to their new location, leaving the original on Earth. I don't love clone stories, but we hardly ever hear from the original again, so that negates most of my complaints right there.While on the Citadel Aldo finds himself immediately isolated and even despised. This is a survival technique for the crew apparently, as the suicide rate is as high as one in four. This slightly broke the immersion for a bit for me, as I couldn't understand why people thought isolation would help the suicide rate at all (I get that they were doing it to protect themselves as opposed to the newbie, but it was still a little upsetting and confusing for me to see). The best case scenario for any of the people on board is for them to retire (with a decent savings) to the local planet which is hosting a small colony. One can see why many become despondent with this situation.The desperation leads Aldo to do something condemnable and slightly unbalanced, a fact he admits right off the bat, as the whole novel is sort of a retelling from his perspective. I have trouble not sympathizing with Aldo, even though I do not agree with some of his decisions. It was disorienting to see how many characters dislike him or found him arrogant, but then it occurred to me we were seeing everything from his eyes (or more accurately, from his words) so there's going to be some bias there. That being said – I enjoyed the steady and gradual build up to the reveal of what he did. Not only did it make the world feel more real, but it helped to show just how slowly time passes out there.I was utterly enthralled with this read. I know I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to science fiction novels, so sometimes a good one for me is far and few between. Therefore I get insanely excited when I find one. It feels odd saying I got excited for a book with such a slow buildup, but it's true.The details McDemott added in, such as the minimal resources and the political/religious system were really quite brilliant. It brought the world to life, and genuinely made you care about the conclusion. It makes you wonder how much of Aldo's plan was actually thought out. Clearly he didn't think about the events following his actions.I haven't read anything by McDermott before this, his Goodreads profile doesn't list any other novels, but I can safely say I intend to follow his work from now on. I think he's an author worth watching. (hide spoiler)]For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  • Lucille
    2019-03-11 05:06

    [3,5 actually, because sometimes I felt like it deserved 3, and sometimes 4, so I guess it should be in between!]As it often happens, I was intrigued as soon as I saw this long title and beautiful cover. It is illustrated by Jaime Jones and designed by Christine Foltzer.Stories set in space, especially deep space, fascinate me. In all probability, I won’t ever be able to go there, so reading stories about it is the only way to experience it, somehow. This story deals with the difficulties to live in a space station, one so far away from Earth and even other colonies. Even if that was not a story that made me dream, it has its interests. Plus I love stories that deal with clones.I really didn’t connect with the main character at first. But along the way, getting to see his reactions to some things and to what happened to him I grew to… how to say this? “Tolerate him” would be too harsh and “like him” would be a little bit too much: something in between. Ronaldo is a normal guy, not amazing, not particularly brave or nice or charming. Sometimes he is a jerk and sometimes he is quite decent. The way he reacted when he witnessed sexual assault actually made me think better of him, I wish his reaction would be the one everybody has when confronted with this situation as an ally. What I didn’t like about him was how he was always feeling sorry for himself and always made everything about him. But I had the sensation that I would understand why he felt that way by the end of the story.The fortress at the end of time is the fate of an average guy, a clone with bad luck, and how he ended up in a bad situation. The story is told like a confession that he is writing while in some kind of jail, awaiting his trial. He talks a lot about sins and God and that can be annoying at times. But it shows in what kind of mental place he is.It was interesting to see how the life of this crew stuck deep in space with such bad work conditions and environment was depicted. The frictions between them, hierarchy problems, how time affects them, how they make do and how they don’t. And more importantly how they deal with the loneliness of being so far from everyone. Some have started thinking they were put there by the enemies as a test, that they are studied, some think everyone else is dead but them. I kind of felt like I was the bigger entity watching them, like one would a terrarium.The cast of characters is quite diverse, there are different persons of colour, and there is a transgender woman who get a slightly bigger role in the second part of the story. All the supporting characters where interesting and I wouldn’t have minded to see their point of view in this story!Overall I was captivated with knowing how that crime happened, what the consequences were and what it would mean for the protagonist. I didn’t love this story, mainly because I prefer to bond with main characters, but it was very interesting to read. The fact that it is a novella is perfect, because I don’t think I would have lasted 500 pages with Aldo. It was the perfect lenght to appreciate the story. So yay for novellas that let us read about things that are not always our go-to and discover new horizons!(Trigger warning : sexual assault mentioned and described)A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher.Complete review with quotes on the blog! )

  • Niels
    2019-02-24 08:00

    (Review copy received from netgalley. Originally on, not really sure what I was expecting here. Hammy title, intriguing but vague blurb. Turned out to be a recklessly deliberate novel most similar in tone to Robert Charles Wilson's Spin or even Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Also turned out to be pretty kickass; was even in the running for five stars, and I don't hand those out often.The story is told as the protagonist's confession, the implication being that he's going to do something particularly sinful at some point. It starts out with him finishing space pilot training on earth and getting quantum cloned to his first posting at the ass end of the galaxy. There's one episode of a couple of months where he adjusts to his new life, then the story jumps a few years ahead and works its way toward his most serious sin.The station is a forlorn listening post, waiting for the return of an alien menace from the depths of intergalactic space. It's been waiting for hundreds of years and the handful of crew mostly pass the time by committing suicide out of sheer boredom. The system also sports a dusty little planet where a few colonists are trying to carve out some kind of future for themselves when they're not hiding from sandstorms.This is a quiet book. Not a lot of action. No antagonist. Setting and characters are enough to carry it and carry it well. Minor conflicts. The protagonist's first spaceflight. Love interests. The relationship between the station and the colony. The tension of knowing there's this serious crime coming. Everywhere desolation and wistfulness. The occasional flash of hope. And writing to get it across, rarely taking center stage, but then sucker punching you when you least expect it.Here's the protagonist just after he gets cloned across the galaxy and has a crew member give him some basic instructions:Only after she left did I realize that she was the first person I had ever seen, despite my memory of before. Shade of quantum lifes not mine, illusions not me, newly born - if I were a duckling, she would be my mother.And here a flight over the colony:We soared over dunes in a twilight darkness. The horizon glowed purple and gold where the sand kicked up. It was beautiful and stark. It reminded me of the ocean where I grew up. I miss oceans.You think you're getting a generic description of rocky, dusty colony land, just some filler to pass the time until they get where they are going, and wham! He misses oceans.So why not five stars? Because the ending just doesn't quite come together. For a while I was afraid that it would completely flip out and go full Beacon 23, turn into saving the galaxy. It doesn't do that. But at the same time, when we finally find out what the protagonist's great crime is, it doesn't quite seem worth the build up, doesn't quite justify the guilt he feels throughout. It's not totally out there either, just doesn't quite hit the mark.Still a great book. If you're into SciFi without the fireworks, you won't go wrong with this.