The Cronian Incident
Professor Abraham Loeb – Advance Review:
“An exciting science fiction adventure into the technological future. An exhilarating read for scientists and fiction lovers alike.”
The Cronian Incident, which I recommended to my audience as my top Sci-Fi read of the year, is a treasure of planetary science. From bio-implants to solar system stations to the particular engineering environments in each planets’ system, this is a well-developed story with believable settings and characters. The author has a firm grasp of exobiology and extremophiles that will please scientists who enjoy ‘realism’ in their reading, but enough possible future tech that will also please the space-opera crowd. Don’t be afraid of methanogenic hydrocarbons — the hard science is never overwhelming, but neither does Williams assume is audience is dumb by over-explaining anything. A nice balance is struck, here. The novel assumes you know the basics of aerospace, but even if you don’t, you’ll follow the hero because you want to, as his reluctance transforms into purpose. The standout in terms of detail is the uniquely, culturally distinct planets and moons, which could only be done with competent research on each environment, and projecting the imagination into the framework of what it would truly take to colonize places like Mercury, Titan, or Callisto. Join the Interplanetary Accord.
The Cronian Incident (The Formist Series) (Volume 1) by Matthew Williams is a slow-paced, contemplative science fiction story that fans of The Expanse will really enjoy. When a high-ranking member of a Formist family disappears, Jeremiah Ward, a former detective serving a hard labor sentence on Mercury is called to act as private detective. In exchange for Ward’s services, his sentence will be commuted, but it may be more than he bargained for.
Out of the gate, Ward has his own self-imposed obstacles to overcome. He’s guilt-ridden over the events that landed him in prison, and seems to accept his fate as if he were on death row. When Ward is given his “golden ticket” of a task as a private detective, it seems like the best of all worlds. Of course, nothing is ever so easy as all that, and Ward finds himself going deep down the rabbit hole of conspiracy and danger.
Williams injects a realism into this splendid science fiction story that is reminiscent of some of the best in the genre. The Cronian Incident offers a unique view of the future-imperfect through the eyes of the flawed by likable character Jeremiah Ward. Fans of the genre will definitely want to pick up the slow-boil science fiction mystery and tuck in for a good read.
I received an eARC copy from the publisher prior to publication, but it took a while to get through the novel Now that I’ve finished it, I have to say I found it quite compelling. It’s almost like you’re getting three stories in one: the story of how man has advanced in our universe through colonization and technology; the story of the disappearance of Doctor Lee; and the story of how the protagonist, Jeremiah Ward, is trying to find his freedom and rediscover himself in the process. All of them are told at once and are told splendidly by the author, who takes his time building the world of the story to be immersive, as well as the characters to be relatable. He also takes time to make sure the world of the story is easy to understand, especially for those who don’t usually read hard science fiction, and subverts a lot of tropes for these sort of stories. Twice I thought I could tell where the story was going to go, and about four or five times I found myself surprised or wrong.
The only problems I really had was that, even though the author explains the tech and stuff, a lot of the hard science stuff can be a little hard to understand at first. That, and there were some grammar/punctuation/spelling errors here and there, but other than that I had no issues.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I give The Cronian Incident a 4.7 out of 5 (which on Amazon is basically a 5). Pick it up, and be transported.
This was one of the best science fiction novels I’ve read in some time. Its universe is vast in scope, its plot full of intrigue, its characters delightfully well rounded with just the right mix of flaws and strengths.
Nightmares and dreams vie for supremacy as Jeremiah Ward is subjected to sensory deprivation in a futuristic solitary confinement. The prisons-as-profit-centers of today have given way to convict labor laws where employers contract for what are essentially slaves to be used as they see fit. Ward is a disgraced Interpol agent who was very good at his job but made a huge mistake that cost many lives, but he gets a second chance. An important member of one of the most powerful families has gone missing, and he’s tasked to find out what happened.
Ward’s journey of discovery has twists and turns that surprise the reader but none that make us feel we’ve been cheated. Anything resembling deus ex machina is tightly woven into the plot and makes complete sense in the scope of the novel. The science is advanced yet sound and consistent.
The Cronian Incident is easy to read, although it demands close attention, and I anxiously await a followup.
I haven’t read science fiction for years, so I had a pretty fresh approach to reading The Cronian Incident. First of all, I’d never thought about the fact that science fiction writers, especially in a first book in a series, can’t just tell a story; they have to, at the same time, create the world in which the characters move. I’d say that Matthew Williams did an excellent job with this. I now have a good understanding of how the world works in this series. I’d describe the novel as a futuristic sci-fi detective novel with some elements of the Wild West thrown in. Ward, the main character, begins as a convict, formerly an Interpol agent. I won’t go into detail on the plot, but I found it interesting, and this was a fast read once I figured out the basics of the world in which it’s set. I’ll leave it to the reader to discover how Williams worked possible future advancements into the novel. Suffice it to say that I was intrigued.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story .. it used an unbelievable set of worlds but made them believable and easy to read . will await his sequel
Mr. Williams delivers an exciting tale in this story. It was a very enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
This story was a good read that sucked me in and kept me wondering. I particularly enjoyed the world building aspects, and the overarching storyline which is clearly going to continue in the next book. Initially I had some reservations about the main character, however he developed very satisfyingly over the course of the story, and I liked him more and more as the story progressed.
There are some nice little hints tucked away here and there in the language, which I’m hoping will play out interestingly in the next book of the series. Clearly there’s a super duper conspiracy or possibly conspiracies, and I like that in a story.
Craig Wilson – 5 Stars:
I was already familiar with Williams’s writing. He’s a science writer and I am a scientist. But fiction is a whole ‘nuther ball of wax. It requires, among other things, dialogue, character development, and the narrative dexterity to convincingly describe a world – and develop it on the fly – that doesn’t really exist. None of those are required for technical writing, even in pop science.
First novels are always an excursion, and this one was a joyful one. Matt Williams, it turns out, can do all of those things, and do them well. It’s good sci-fi, and left me itching to read the third book in the series, after I read the second, of course, which I am informed is on its way soon.
I give it 4.9 out of 5…. <make him work at getting that last point >;-} >
I didn’t realize how deeply I was drawn into this book until I was about halfway through it!
It has a distinctive style, with a multileveled story, and a main character I connected with quite easily.
Reminiscent of “The Expanse” – the TV show, since I have not yet read any of the books by S.A. Corey – but that same mix of future/cyberpunk/mystery that grabs my attention.
Yes, I’m heading for the next in the series.
I just finished The Cronian Incident by Matthew Williams. My first impression was that this was a rock solid piece of literature. The writing was mature and well thought out. The vocabulary was respectable and different terms where well explained. I admit I was a bit hesitant at first as detective type novels have never ranked high on my personal preference however as I got into the book I found that it was hard to put down. Often I read by author and I will not miss out on reading the next book in this series. I would expect this author to go far with such talent. Writing of this quality is hard work and he certainly put the effort into it. The only downfall that I can see would be with people with poor reading comprehension, however avid sci fi will not have any difficulties. This has been one of the most well put together books I have read this past year.
Brian the King – 5 Stars:
A phenomenal debut novel. I really enjoyed reading this book. The pacing was fantastic and the universe that Williams created is really well constructed. This book takes all of the best elements of good science fiction and noir fiction and seamlessly blends them together in a really compelling story. Williams touches on important ethical questions that we will face as we explore the solar system — but does so without a heavy hand.
This is a book you will want to read.
The Jovian Manifesto:
Charles W. Gregory – 5 stars:
I don’t think I’ve been so involved in a science fiction series since I read the Honor Harrington books by David Weber. I snapped up a copy of The Jovian Manifesto as soon as possible, having immensely enjoyed The Cronian Incident when it first came out.
What’s so good about it? Everything! But to be a bit more specific:
– believable science. This is a relatively near future series, Man has settlements pretty much all over the Solar System but hasn’t ventured past that yet. Nano technology is imaginative but not crazy. It makes sense.
– believable politics. Corporations and governments vie for power and most are just as corrupt as we have today. A long period of peace threatens to erupt into war, incidents are staged to trigger conflict, each situation pits several agendas against each other… it’s complicated but this too makes sense.
– likable characters. Williams has created multi-faceted characters whose lives are skillfully woven together to create a fantastic tapestry.
– fast-paced plot. It’s hard to put this one down, each chapter pulls you into the next until suddenly you’re all done and wanting more.
Rami Ungar – 5 stars:
I received an eARC from the publisher and was eager to read this book. I really liked the first book in the Formist series, so I wanted to see how the sequel held up.
Turns out, it holds up pretty well. It’s much faster paced than its predecessor and features some pretty awesome action scenes interspersed into a story involving a conspiracy and a plot to counter the conspiracy. There were also some great twists along the way, which I won’t give away here, and I really enjoyed the characters, who were diverse and well-developed. I do hope they show up in the sequel.
If there were any issues, it’s that my copy had some typos in it. Just a letter or word missing here, some bad punctuation there. Nothing really glaring or book-ruining, but they were there. But that might’ve just been because I got an eARC and the actual book is free of these issues.
Anyway, if you liked The Cronian Incident, you’ll enjoy The Jovian Manifesto, so don’t hesitate to check it out and take a look.
Abraham Loeb – 5 Stars:
Exciting plot with a good foundation in science. This is not surprising given the author’s expertise as an excellent science writer for Universe Today. Inspiring ending. Highly recommended!
CameronW – 5 Stars:
After having read and enjoyed the first book in this series, “The Cronian Incident”, I was eager to get hold of this next installment. I had some ideas of where things might be going from the end of book one and was excited to find out. I was not disappointed! Lots of action, character development, plot twists… I also really love the whole premise of the book(s), colonization of our solar system. Realistic science fiction rather than fairly tail stories based on unrealistic advances in technology that would make Albert Einstein do multiple palm to foreheads . Although there is some very cool tech in these stories!! Looking forward to Mr. Williams’ next installment!