The Gravity Pilot – Amazon Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 stars
Buckner’s best work yet, July 9, 2011
This review is from: The Gravity Pilot (Hardcover)

From the book jacket description it’s not apparent that this is a hard SF novel, but that is what Buckner has delivered with Gravity Pilot.
This is a layered story set against the backdrop of ecologic disaster 50 years in the future. On the surface it is the quest of a professional skydiver to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of addiction and corporate greed. The action sequences are utterly convincing and immersive, and the author presents a fascinating prediction about how we’ll interact with the internet in the future.
But this book also explores other big issues:
addiction – both on a personal and a societal level
the exploitation of the young by the old
the evils of corporate ethos, profit above all else
the nature of love and sacrifice

I really enjoyed Gravity Pilot and I’m still thinking about it after reading it last week. It’s just a terrific SF novel by a writer at the height of her powers.


5 stars I bit the bullet, and I’m glad I did.
April 29, 2011
This review is from: The Gravity Pilot (Hardcover)

When I first read the description, I was a tad skeptical as to whether or not the book would be a good one. As an avid reader of “futuristic” stories, I decided to give this novel a go. This novel really surprised me with the vivid imagery and the story itself. This book provided me with a story that kept me hooked for the time it took to read – and boy it was a good read. It also gave an interesting look as to what the future could hold for technology. Considering some people have internet addictions now, this story pulls that to a whole new level with devices called Oculars, that allow one eye to be logged into the net at all times. The landscape that the book described was a great one – drippy ceilings down below Seattle, platinum colored smog that required oxygen masks, volcanic calderas, and much more. In short, this book provided a transition into a different reality that followed a young man going to great heights (and depths) to further his career and save his girlfriend from the net. If you weren’t sure about this book, do give it a chance and a read, and then a second to really get what went on.

The Gravity Pilot – GoodReads Review

Kristie’s review from GoodReads
[four stars]
“The Gravity Pilot” is an excellent Science Fiction novel with many layers. It’s a love story (drawing loosely from the myth of Orpheus), a sports novel, and a dystopian tale. The main character, Orr, is an Alaskan skydiver who makes a record-breaking jump that catapults him to stardom. That same jump has caused him to lose his girlfriend, Dyce, who had asked him to choose between her and diving. Dyce leaves Orr and Alaska to take a job in subterranean Seattle, and with her departure, Orr loses a bit of himself. Dyce finds that the job of her dreams is more of a nightmare, and she becomes one of the countless people who are addicted to fully immersive simulated worlds.

Even in the future, in a world that has nearly been destroyed, people still love their sports stars and a father/daughter team are quick to jump on the chance to exploit the young skydiver. They use his talents to create more complex and addictive sim games, and the plot builds as Orr tries to save himself as well as Dyce.

Trying to explain any more of the plot than that would give away too much — the story builds and plunges, dips and dives, and carries the reader on a path similar to some of the jumps that Orr makes. I definitely recommend it to Science Fiction fans.

Review of The Gravity Pilot from Owlcat Mountain

While mythology is a rich mine for fantasy, it doesn’t often come into play in science fiction. That’s too bad, because science fiction as a genre carries many of the same themes and plot arcs as fantasy. So you can imagine how excited I was to find that M. M. Buckner has written a novel that draws heavily on the Greek myth of Orpheus. The Gravity Pilot follows a skydiver and the love of his life as each descends into their own personal Hell.

Orr has given his life to two things: skydiving and his girlfriend Dyce. But when a botched stratosphere dive turns into a record-breaking mesosphere jump, he’s quickly contracted to make jumps to be filmed for a virtual reality world. Dyce can no longer take his obsession with the sport and takes a librarian job in the underground city of Seattle.

Orr later discovers that Dyce has become addicted to fully immersive virtual reality and is a slave to the company who makes it. Orr’s constant pushing of his limits drops him into a dangerous mental state from which he makes jump after jump in increasingly deadly circumstances. But he will give it all up for Dyce, who may be too far gone to save.

I was pleased to see how many different levels Buckner was able to weave into this story. It functions as a sports story, with the descriptions of skydiving and the training and terminology that go along with it. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of rampant technology, with the scenes of people helplessly hooked into the full-immersive sims and unable to detach themselves. It’s also a cautionary tale about turning a blind eye to the state of the world’s environment, which underlies the “head in the sand” attitude of the tech addicts who can’t face reality.

There are some obvious parallels to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, although the book is less of an “update” (as it’s being billed) and more of a story infused with elements of the myth. On the one hand, I have to wonder if the publicity linking it to the myth will influence readers in what they see in the tale; on the other hand, I really have to wonder if the majority of readers will be familiar enough with the myth to catch the references. I asked several people at my work if they knew the myth, and no one did—and I work on a college campus!

The setting—a future time when the world is hideously polluted—provides yet another layer to the novel. It all has to do with the choices that we make, not just as a species but as individuals. We can choose to ruin our personal environment or nourish it, just as we as human beings can choose the same for the world as a whole.

While Dyce is the obvious love interest in the book, I found myself much more intrigued with Orr’s relationship with Vera, the lady who hires him to dive for virtual reality sims. Dyce leaves so early in the book that readers don’t get too much of a sense of how she and Orr fit together. The book shows much more of the adversarial relationship between Orr and Vera, and thus I found it the more intriguing of the interactions.

It’s not easy to review this novel because there’s so much going on that trying to describe it would not only take too long, but it would detract from the story. This is a book that you need to read at our own pace and digest in your own way. Rest assured, it’s a rewarding experience.

If readers can let themselves take the story for what it is, they’ll find a richly layered story. The disparate threads of story and theme mesh together, forming a detailed tapestry of love, loss and the forces that draw you towards your destiny. Read this novel to discover why we are all gravity pilots, falling towards our own personal Earth.

GRAVITY PILOT: Book Review by Barry Hunter

M.M. Buckner, Tor, $25.99, 320 pages
ISBN: 9780765322869,
reviewed by Barry Hunter

I read for pleasure. I read for the “sense of wonder” that science fiction brings. SF means SCIENCE Fiction, not SPECULATIVE Fiction as too many people are trying to rename it and stake their own claim to it without paying their respects to those who came before. Buckner is one of those authors that shows homage and respect and tells a tremendous story while doing so. (more…)

WATERMIND: Review by Norman Sinrad

Reviewed in Asimov’s Science Fiction
Post-Genre Speculative Fiction by Norman Spinrad

…Buckner’s first novel, Watermind, though published by Tor, a long-standing last bastion of genre science fiction of literary quality (and that is by no means a contradiction in terms) is, I would contend, the sort of post-genre speculative fiction (and that is not necessarily a contradiction in terms either) we are seeing more and more of in these latter days.

There is a superficially hard SF premise, namely that the profligate dumping of all manner of electronic garbage into the Mississippi River system—cell phones, batteries, motherboards, television sets, microchips, solar cells, whatever—has combined with the superabundance of complex chemical sludge and microorganisms therein to create a kind of electro-organic hybrid organism, the Watermind of the title, a bioelectronic neural network evolving into a kind of sentience. (more…)

WAR SURF: Book Review by Byron Merritt

“A Wonderful SF Read.”
Review by Byron Merritt

Merritt Not having read any of this author’s previously hailed works (Hyperthought and Neurolink), I approached this science fiction work as a Buckner virgin. Being a bit of an SF buff myself (writing some and being the grandson of Frank Herbert, author of Dune), I always approach authors new to this genre with a grain of salt
poised on my tongue. But here, I need not have worried.

Buckner layers War Surf with so many ethical, moral and religious undertones that I dare say any reader will find enjoyment on some level within these pages. There’s an underlying current dealing with mortality and the need for the rejuvenation of youth. There’s advanced biological technology that may or may not be helpful. There’s the recycling of humans in great nutrient vats. And, toward the end, there’s the obvious “eat and drink of me and you will live forever” religious parallels to Catholicism. (more…)

WAR SURF: Book Review by Nancy Fulda

“It Blew Me Away”
War Surf Review by Nancy Fulda

This week I read M. M. Buckner’s War Surf.

Wow. Waaaaooooow. I don’t know if it’s because Buckner’s a stellar author, or because I’ve been reading so much slush lately that my literary expectations have dropped, or because Buckner’s style is so different from the Bujoldian novels I typically read but, man, it blew me away.

This is not idle praise. Picture me in bed at ten PM, idly thumbing through the pages, thinking the teaser on the back doesn’t sound all that thrilling, thinking “This looks like military sci fi. I don’t usually like that stuff.” Imagine me opening to the first chapter and discovering that it’s written in first person, one of our major Baen’s Universe pet peeves. Now hear me grumbling to myself and thinking, “Well, Jason Sizemore gives Buckner high praise. Might as well give it a chance. One chapter. That is all.” (more…)

NEUROLINK: Book Review by John C. Snider

Neurolink Review
from Scifidimensions by John C. Snider

In the mid-23rd century the earth is in quite a pickle. The environment has been overwhelmed by global warming and pollution: the air and oceans are considered poisonous; the populations huddle together in enclosed cities in the far north and south. Society itself is overwhelmed by nearly omnipotent corporations, and the vast majority of humanity live as “protes” – protected employees who eke out a living under the boot heels of the “.Coms”.

Dominic Jedes is a scion of the ruling elite, the cloned son of Richter Jedes, president of ZahlenBank. The elder Jedes has extended his lifespan to nearly three centuries, using genetic treatments and repeated organ transplants. But no amount of money can prevent the inevitable, and when Richter dies he cheats death by having his consciousness transferred into a Neural Profile (NP for short), “a new kind of bank for storing a person’s mind.” (more…)

NEUROLINK: Review from Entertainment Weekly

Neurolink Review
from Entertainment Weekly by Noah Robischon

Twenty-third-century banker Dominic Jedes must cope with a high-tech replica of his tyranical deceased father as well as a worker rebellion on a sunken submarine. Log-line, Wall Street meetes The Empire Strikes Back. Source of angst, the workers expected Jedes to offer a deal to rescue everyone, but “he was a banker, not a miracle worker.” Key concepts, utopian recycling, bio-modification. Lowdown, Dante’s Inferno goes cyberpunk in Buckner’s toxic future tale of working-class bravado. A-.

HYPERTHOUGHT: Book Review by Galen Strickland

by Galen Strickland,

This is the first novel from M. M. (Mary) Buckner, from Ace Books, one of the most prestigious publishers of SF. I agree with the quotes above; it is a very impressive debut, and I look forward to further works from her. If I had been her editor, there might have been a few minor changes, but for the most part this is a book I think we will be hearing about next year when it comes time for awards nominations (although lately I have begun to wonder if I have any idea what appeals to other readers and writers). [Added note: this book was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, presented to the best novel published as a paperback original, however it did not win.] (more…)