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Slingshot is a love story – about a man, a woman, another man, another woman, some gender bending…and a machine, the largest ever built. Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2, Slingshot is a love story – about a man, a woman, another man, another woman, some gender bending…and a machine, the largest ever built. Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2,000 km between Baker and Jarvis Islands in the Equatorial Pacific. It’s about high finance, intrigue, unlimited ambition, heroism, fanaticism, betrayal…and about opening space to the common person. With a cast of 69, Slingshot takes you from Seattle’s world financial district, to the ocean bottom at 5,000 feet off Baker Island, to the edge of space 80 km above. You play with dolphins and battle sharks. You fly and sail and dive, you work and play and love across the vast panorama of an Equatorial Pacific being put to leash to serve humanity’s surge into outer space. While its accurate science and precise engineering will appeal to hard science fiction buffs, Slingshot’s major focus is the grand journey, the opening of outer space to the common person by men and women who loom larger than life as they work, play, and love.


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Slingshot is a love story – about a man, a woman, another man, another woman, some gender bending…and a machine, the largest ever built. Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2, Slingshot is a love story – about a man, a woman, another man, another woman, some gender bending…and a machine, the largest ever built. Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2,000 km between Baker and Jarvis Islands in the Equatorial Pacific. It’s about high finance, intrigue, unlimited ambition, heroism, fanaticism, betrayal…and about opening space to the common person. With a cast of 69, Slingshot takes you from Seattle’s world financial district, to the ocean bottom at 5,000 feet off Baker Island, to the edge of space 80 km above. You play with dolphins and battle sharks. You fly and sail and dive, you work and play and love across the vast panorama of an Equatorial Pacific being put to leash to serve humanity’s surge into outer space. While its accurate science and precise engineering will appeal to hard science fiction buffs, Slingshot’s major focus is the grand journey, the opening of outer space to the common person by men and women who loom larger than life as they work, play, and love.

30 review for Slingshot: Building the largest machine in human history

  1. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Babcock

    Wow, what a ride! This book is exactly what science-fiction should be. Realistic if futuristic science mixed in with how humans are. Great adventure telling an epic tale, and totally believable. It’s also pretty topical and thought-provoking. You can follow the humans or the science and be satisfied. I can wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    AudioBookReviewer

    My original Slingshot audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. What if space travel was made affordable for every single person on the planet?  What if space travel could be proven to be eco-friendly and safe? Would you go? Slingshot: The Starchild Series written by Robert Williscroft is a multi-faceted book.  It will appeal to science fiction, romance, adventure and conspiracy enthusiasts alike. This is a story about one man’s dream to build a launch loop that can send My original Slingshot audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. What if space travel was made affordable for every single person on the planet?  What if space travel could be proven to be eco-friendly and safe? Would you go? Slingshot: The Starchild Series written by Robert Williscroft is a multi-faceted book.  It will appeal to science fiction, romance, adventure and conspiracy enthusiasts alike. This is a story about one man’s dream to build a launch loop that can send anyone and everyone to outer space affordably and eco-friendly.  The building of the launch loop is amazingly detailed and the building of the sky tower is an action packed adventure.  Each step of the book from the idea to the design to the building is realistic and made more so by Williscroft’s detailed descriptions. Furthermore, Williscroft brings in all the people involved – the divers, the Mohawk high iron workers, the misguided environmentalists, machinists, dolphins, construction workers, hi-financers and more.  He shows you small slices of their lives – what they do, how they love, where they come from and that they all share a common dream.  The story talks about the doers and the behind the scene people who make everything happen but who are nothing more than mere shadows.  Williscroft allows these people to shine in this book – they are the heroes. Williscroft brought this idea to life through his attention to detail, his descriptive and precise wordsmithing.  His story flows smoothly albeit very detailed.  He develops his characters with great care and a fullness that leaves the listener connected to the story line and characters.  Williscroft immerses his listener fully into the story and keeps them there throughout. Several twists at the end will leave the reader gasping and stunned; it is a story that should not be missed by anyone who enjoys science fiction and space travel! Williscroft’s attention to detail, at times, became a bit overwhelming but I would say it was necessary to make it realistic.  This is an epic audiobook of 13 hours but I found myself having a hard time shutting it off.  My attention was being focused and held firmly enabling me to visualize the launch loop and experience the adventure and the emotional toil the ending takes. The narrator, Trenton Benton performs the audiobook very well.  He is talented in the different characters he portrays.  I found his performance enjoyable and pleasant.  My only dislike was a good portion of his female voices which were too high-pitched making them sound unprofessional and too young.  However, I thought he did a great job. There were no issues with the audio production of this audiobook.  Everything was clear and concise. Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Clare O'Beara

    I love many aspects of this SF tale. Like The Fountains of Paradise, or the Red Mars trilogy, we see giant construction, hard science and audacious inventing. In this case, the project under construction is to aid getting goods and people out of Earth's gravity well. By reducing the cost and waste of rockets and fuel, space can be that much easier and cheaper to reach. You'll need to read the details to gain a full understanding but the idea is to build a sort of massive conveyor belt which move I love many aspects of this SF tale. Like The Fountains of Paradise, or the Red Mars trilogy, we see giant construction, hard science and audacious inventing. In this case, the project under construction is to aid getting goods and people out of Earth's gravity well. By reducing the cost and waste of rockets and fuel, space can be that much easier and cheaper to reach. You'll need to read the details to gain a full understanding but the idea is to build a sort of massive conveyor belt which moves fast enough to raise itself off the surface. With a tower at either end on barren islands in the Pacific and a middle space station to catch the conveyed goods, even space tourism might be possible. I have no doubt that the author, who worked all the processes out with an engineering colleague, can see the plans working as he writes. He spells out the various stages, from the deep sea construction of pilings and a power source - solar and deep upwelling water pushing turbines - to how to construct a platform in zero gravity and who would do it, to how to sabotage each stage. Because the tension we need to inject into a fiction book is provided by a well-funded group of spies and saboteurs, from sinister plotters, to working killers, to useful idiots. The characters we follow and get to like, are a nice mix of male and female, various ethnicities. They also include a teamworking dolphin; and a really nice touch is naming the bases after Amelia Earhart and her navigator, who are presumed lost while attempting to cross this stretch of water. Naturally we meet a wide spread of professions including media presenters and InfoSec workers. Why am I not giving five stars? I would make it four and a half, but not five. While the tale takes pains to establish some environmental benefits to the slingshot, I could not agree with some of the views as expressed by main characters. For instance, that the atmosphere wasn't really warming or it wasn't a problem; that plastics in the ocean food chain had turned out not to be a problem; that rainforests can readily be destroyed for crop planting as long as some islands of forest are left for animal habitat. Just to take that last point, rainforest sequesters carbon and water from the air; it recycles plant and animal matter into thin, poor, mineral-depleted hot tropical soil; it anchors soils which would otherwise erode fast and river banks which would otherwise flood, erode and change course. Rainforest produces a lot of our oxygen, though sea algae do too, while fragmented animal and plant populations are too short of genes to survive longterm. Rainforest timbers are much sought after for fine furniture and musical instruments while plants are being tested continually for medical benefits, like quinine from cinchona. Felling and burning rainforest in Indonesia and Borneo is driving local landowners off their land to the benefit of a wealthy few, decimating orang-utan and bird populations among others, and the replacement crop plants are creating an almost sterile landscape; while the Indonesians have now asked the UN for aid to put out the massive peatland fires they have generated as the peat land under their once-forest dries out and smoulders. With this book, if it had been established that the tale occurred in an alternative version of our world, I would have no problem accepting that in the author's version, the world worked differently and physical engineering mattered far more than the value of environmental services, with pollution at an inconsequential level somehow. Another point is that we get frequent mentions of really strong magnets and other components which will have been made with REEs - filthy to mine, refine and depending on immense amounts of chemicals in production. These are nearly all produced in China because China does not have good health, safety and environmental standards, which is the only way REEs can be produced cheaply. So yes, the next batch can be produced from asteroids, with this equipment; but it hasn't been very green so far. All this is probably more than the average reader worries about in a fiction tale, so just keep it in mind if you will. An ARC copy was sent to me by the author. By the time it was published a line may have been inserted telling us how the mission crew found out that a certain person they had captured was good with computers; I couldn't find any such line. This is an unbiased review. I would certainly read more by this author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    Alexander “Alex” Regent (project field Engineer, MIT; BS engineering, MIT; double MS aquatic/engineering, chess champion), & Margo Jackson (field Engineer, underwater construction; Berkley; BS physics, Duke; MS Marine Engineering, avid chess player), were checking out the Electrostatic Field Communication (EFCom) transceiver on the buoy. It must be the antenna wire. George (dolphin) & the other 3 dolphins came to greet them. Baker Island. Klaus Blumenfeld German Field Engineer, head of OTEC power Alexander “Alex” Regent (project field Engineer, MIT; BS engineering, MIT; double MS aquatic/engineering, chess champion), & Margo Jackson (field Engineer, underwater construction; Berkley; BS physics, Duke; MS Marine Engineering, avid chess player), were checking out the Electrostatic Field Communication (EFCom) transceiver on the buoy. It must be the antenna wire. George (dolphin) & the other 3 dolphins came to greet them. Baker Island. Klaus Blumenfeld German Field Engineer, head of OTEC power; Darmstadt Technische Hochschule; BS, physics, Cal Tech; MS, PhD, electrical engineering), & Alex were attending to the Ocean Thermal Energy Converter (OTEC) cylinder. Samantha “Sam” McNabb (Eastern Complex Diver) & Edward “Woody” Wood Eastern Complex Diver) were checking out the spread-spectrum radio system (SSRS) transmitter. Jarvis Island. Klaus & Margo were discussing the impact on the sea, creatures, wildlife & the environment. Alex called Carleton Montague (father, wealthy, oil industry) about his daughter Tiffany Montague (18, Bryn Mawr; English, Green Force organization) & where to pick her up at. Johnathan Pfaff discovered what the Green Avenger (schooner) was really being used for. Francesca Woodward (17, Green Force member, Radcliff; English Literature, Delaware, father, banker), Carmina Pebsworth (19, Green Force member, 2nd. Mate, Berkeley; Journalism, S.F. Pebsworth magazine publishing family) parents picked them up & took them back home also. What happened with Rodney “Critz” Chrietzberg (Shift 3 Boss; High-Iron Mohawk) & Ajay “AJ” Dybo (Shift 1 Boss High-Iron Mohawk, Tom's cousin) What happened to Mary Martain (Alex’s lover)? Margo, Klaus & Mabel kind of went their own separate ways. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one. A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very well written sci-fi book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great sci-fi movie, animated cartoon, or better yet a mini TV series. Not my normal read but I really liked it so I will rate it at 5 stars. Thank you for the free Author; Starman Press; Amazon Digital Services LLC; book Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave Edlund

    In “Slingshot” , Williscroft takes us in a different direction from his exciting submarine adventure, "Operation Ivy Bells". Rather than visiting the depths of the ocean, we are going up, 81 kilometers to be exact. The plot revolves around three main characters—Alex, Margo, and Klaus—who are leading the construction of the largest machine ever built, a magnetic launch loop 2,000 kilometers in length. “Slingshot is part romance, part mystery (a search for none other than Amelia Earhart), part In “Slingshot” , Williscroft takes us in a different direction from his exciting submarine adventure, "Operation Ivy Bells". Rather than visiting the depths of the ocean, we are going up, 81 kilometers to be exact. The plot revolves around three main characters—Alex, Margo, and Klaus—who are leading the construction of the largest machine ever built, a magnetic launch loop 2,000 kilometers in length. “Slingshot is part romance, part mystery (a search for none other than Amelia Earhart), part adventure, and very suspenseful. There’s enough real science in the launch loop machine to engage my inner geekdom—reminiscent of the masterful Michael Crichton. As the launch loop nears completion, acts of sabotage slow progress. But who is behind these misdeeds, and why? As the answers unfold, the reader is taken to a thrilling climax that will have you turning the pages well into the late night hours. Put on the coffee, and strap yourself in for a whirlwind adventure!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine Holly-Rosing

    (For tech nerds only.) In the near future, a group of intrepid engineers build the first ever "Launch Loop." An environmentally sound way to launch into space, its purpose is to slingshot capsules from zero to launch earth escape velocity. This story focuses on the trials, tribulations, and sabotage the team building it faces. As a science fiction lover, I pretty much enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written from a technical point of view, but I would have to give it a 3.5 if I could. At (For tech nerds only.) In the near future, a group of intrepid engineers build the first ever "Launch Loop." An environmentally sound way to launch into space, its purpose is to slingshot capsules from zero to launch earth escape velocity. This story focuses on the trials, tribulations, and sabotage the team building it faces. As a science fiction lover, I pretty much enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written from a technical point of view, but I would have to give it a 3.5 if I could. At times it was engrossing, but there were often huge sections of overly descriptive technical details which detracted from the story and disrupted the pacing. I was also astonished at the blatant disregard for established science fact, like it's okay to cut down the Amazon as the ocean produces enough oxygen and that plastics haven't been found in the ocean's food chain. (What?) And though I could tell that the author was trying to portray the women as competent and independent, it was sometimes undercut by a sexist description. Then there was these weird digs at the Obama administration that took me right out of the story. (It felt like the author talking, not the character.) I did read the sample chapter of the next book and boy, that hooked me right in. I won't give up on this author as I think there is talent here that just needs to be polished.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donald Franck

    A delightful story! I got hooked soon after starting this tale. The loop idea is so different it makes you think and once there, you got it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Adams

    The entire premise of this book is fascinating: an environmentally-conscious way to put humans into space. However, not all is well, with many obstacles to overcome, not all of them scientific or financial, and this book brings the reader on a journey consisting of introducing interesting mutual-faceted characters and situations that craft a believable glimpse into what might happen in the future. I admit that I would not normally seek out this genre if I were in a bookstore, perusing the aisles The entire premise of this book is fascinating: an environmentally-conscious way to put humans into space. However, not all is well, with many obstacles to overcome, not all of them scientific or financial, and this book brings the reader on a journey consisting of introducing interesting mutual-faceted characters and situations that craft a believable glimpse into what might happen in the future. I admit that I would not normally seek out this genre if I were in a bookstore, perusing the aisles for a new book to bring home. However, this book took me on a journey that reminded me of the days when I worked at MIT as a lowly secretary, where I learned more science than I ever did when I was in school, where I witnessed female scientists who had to be twice as good to be considered "one of the guys" to be taken seriously, then later to a slice of my career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute when I was higher up in the food chain and saw that women had made great strides in science. This author recognizes the contributions of women in this project and gives them credit for their contributions. Similarly, he integrates the contributions of Native Americans and others who may have been marginalized throughout society. He's careful to give important roles to people who may not had prominence in science in the past. I picked up a couple of snarky political comments (e.g., one about former President Obama and the space program). I was slightly bothered about the characterization of the woman who works in headquarters in Seattle as being plump and homely, but because she's so intelligent, she's gotten where she is (i.e., out of sight but still leading the project), and the two prominent women (Margo and Lori) are where they are not only because they're highly intelligent but physically attractive. This is my personal political bent, so I had to mention it. This book will open up new possibilities for readers who crave science fiction. I know that my 38-year-old son and his peers who love this genre will eat it up, and I plan to purchase this and whatever this author writes as gifts for my son. Spoiler alert: Don't tell my son that he's going to get Williscroft for his birthdays and holiday gifts for the foreseeable future.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Isabella Adams

    When I first happened upon this book, I was intrigued but had other things to order at the time. The concept stuck with me, however, and I found myself thinking about the plot and promised story, so I came back and bought it. I embarked on reading Slingshot after having finished a light piece about a motorcycle romance. Man, was I in for a shock. I actually had to consciously shift gears to prepare to digest this piece, which took me a while, because I read every word. By the way, I am still con When I first happened upon this book, I was intrigued but had other things to order at the time. The concept stuck with me, however, and I found myself thinking about the plot and promised story, so I came back and bought it. I embarked on reading Slingshot after having finished a light piece about a motorcycle romance. Man, was I in for a shock. I actually had to consciously shift gears to prepare to digest this piece, which took me a while, because I read every word. By the way, I am still convinced this concept could work, so Mr. Williscroft- if you haven't done so, please submit your plans to someone. That being said, I am not a physicist. I am, however, a scientist. I loved Margo, and craved the interaction between she and Alex. I am also a diver, so was particularly critical (and not disappointed) by the diving scenes. This book has it all: espionage, friendship, secret agents, environmental concern, romance (admittedly, not as much as I want, but as I move on to book two I'm hoping that is rectified), and, certainly not the least in the list, space travel. And believable space travel at that. I love science fiction. I am quick to suspend disbelief and allow myself to be swept into the universe the author creates (think Le Guin, she is a Goddess). In this case, that universe is ours, only full of possibility- possibility that reads like reality, just waiting to be realized. I already own book two and have paused my journey with Alex and Margo to let Mr. Williscroft know how much I appreciate his well-written, and meticulously edited, work of art. I will end with this: my family was a bit chagrined at the time I spent reading this book. It took mental energy and concentration, so if you are looking for something to breeze through, and you do not want to be triggered to think, this is not the book for you (unless you plan to skep the technical aspects, but then its not really worth it). Bravo, Mr. Williscroft

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Lindahl

    Slingshot: Building the Largest Machine in Human History is a hard science fiction novel based on a design concept developed by Keith Lofstrom in the 1980s. The story is about the construction and first trial of a launch loop, a machine designed to launch spacecraft at a much lower cost than the rockets in use today. The idea is fascinating and the description in this book is thorough and highly technical. Here's a sample: As Slingshot continued to bootstrap itself skyward, teams on Baker and Jar Slingshot: Building the Largest Machine in Human History is a hard science fiction novel based on a design concept developed by Keith Lofstrom in the 1980s. The story is about the construction and first trial of a launch loop, a machine designed to launch spacecraft at a much lower cost than the rockets in use today. The idea is fascinating and the description in this book is thorough and highly technical. Here's a sample: As Slingshot continued to bootstrap itself skyward, teams on Baker and Jarvis performed virtually identical actions. Initially, they loosely passed the skytower cable through the anchoring loops in the sockets. As the rail moved up, they fed cable from a huge reel located on a barge in the harbor, keeping it loose, without tension. Simultaneously, they attached the lift-cable suspensor to the skytower cable every five hundred meters with aramid-based polymer rings. Both the lift and boost cable passed through meter-long tubes connected to each ring that were lined with neodymium magnets. These tubes restrained the cables without friction... Although the technical descriptions in Slingshot are intricate, the relationships between the characters do not have that level of careful detail, lots of physical intimacy, but little emotional intimacy. There is one “relationship” that is explored in depth, but it's not between two living characters. It is between Margo, the chief engineer, and her mental image of Amelia Earhart, whose plane had gone missing in the same part of the world where the Slingshot project was taking place. Her feelings for her hero are intense. Another issue I had with the story was the opposition to the launch loop. Any project of this magnitude is going to have problems. The pros and cons should be explored equally. In his novel, Williscroft created Green Force, an extremist group of naïve people who conduct violent opposition to the project and are easily dissuaded from their goals. As the story goes on, the reason for this weak opposition is revealed, but the book is left without any science based explanation of the cons. Slingshot introduced me to an idea that could have a major impact on the future of space exploration. I loved reading about it and enjoyed the concept enough to check out the Wikipedia page for the launch loop ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_... ). Slingshot is a perfect book for people who like reading about new technical ideas. I believe fans of shows such as National Geographic's Mars will enjoy this read. Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sedona Hutton

    Robert Williscroft’s book Slingshot: The Starchild Series, Book 1 was a great read. The story kept me entertained from start to finish with an intriguing plot centered around the creation of an affordable and environmentally friendly device to transport cargo and people into space. The details around the engineering of this large space machine made the story come to life and feel believable. I appreciated the full cast of characters: divers, Mohawk high iron workers, manipulated environmentalist Robert Williscroft’s book Slingshot: The Starchild Series, Book 1 was a great read. The story kept me entertained from start to finish with an intriguing plot centered around the creation of an affordable and environmentally friendly device to transport cargo and people into space. The details around the engineering of this large space machine made the story come to life and feel believable. I appreciated the full cast of characters: divers, Mohawk high iron workers, manipulated environmentalists’ dolphins, construction workers, and foreign governments. While the LLI team is comprised of the best of the best in their respective fields, there are some who want to derail and sabotage the project…without giving away the spoiler, the ending was excellent! What I loved most about this book was that it offered science-fiction, adventure, mystery, intrigue and even a touch of romance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    f you're a fan of hard science fiction, or just like reading about how technology works, this is the book for you. It goes into great detail about the slingshot structure, really going into examining how it works and the whole technical process of building it. Not a traditional "hero" novel, this book takes a look at all the people involved in building such a complex structure, from the high iron workers doing the grunt work of assembling the structure to the engineers in charge of designing and f you're a fan of hard science fiction, or just like reading about how technology works, this is the book for you. It goes into great detail about the slingshot structure, really going into examining how it works and the whole technical process of building it. Not a traditional "hero" novel, this book takes a look at all the people involved in building such a complex structure, from the high iron workers doing the grunt work of assembling the structure to the engineers in charge of designing and supervising the whole project. The challenges they face in constructing the slingshot will keep you hooked until the end, and will leave you wanting to read the next book in the series, The Starchild Compact.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Amazing novel! Well written and edited. A definite must for fans of the sci-fi genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily Ross

    I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. This had such a cool concept! Let's make space travel affordable for everybody! And it did not disappoint. It was incredibly detailed, but not boring, and everybody who was involved in creating the launch loop was brought in. It felt pretty awesome because most authors tend to ignore the backstage / behind the scenes people, so it felt refreshing to read / listen to that. Williscroft had written a tru I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. This had such a cool concept! Let's make space travel affordable for everybody! And it did not disappoint. It was incredibly detailed, but not boring, and everybody who was involved in creating the launch loop was brought in. It felt pretty awesome because most authors tend to ignore the backstage / behind the scenes people, so it felt refreshing to read / listen to that. Williscroft had written a truly amazing book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    A very clever story that made me re-think one of my basic ideas on books I like. Normally, I love the scientific explanations, and to start with in this book I really did, and it was obvious that the author really knew his subject. However, as the book advanced and the story developed, I found myself skimming over the science to follow the action part of the story. I found the reporter and her antics unnecessary, and felt it added nothing to the story, as the other characters were fine as they w A very clever story that made me re-think one of my basic ideas on books I like. Normally, I love the scientific explanations, and to start with in this book I really did, and it was obvious that the author really knew his subject. However, as the book advanced and the story developed, I found myself skimming over the science to follow the action part of the story. I found the reporter and her antics unnecessary, and felt it added nothing to the story, as the other characters were fine as they were. The ideas, and the action part of the story were really great, and I did enjoy them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    What do you do for a living? Is it anything like managing the construction of the largest machine humans have ever built? Solving the problems and handling the disasters? How would you locate and then repair a critical broken cable more than 4 km under the sea? Do you have dolphins cavort beside you on your job, befriend you, and then help you to safety? What do you see from your office windows? Imagine the view if you were to work on a structure 97 times taller than Burj Khalifa, the tallest buil What do you do for a living? Is it anything like managing the construction of the largest machine humans have ever built? Solving the problems and handling the disasters? How would you locate and then repair a critical broken cable more than 4 km under the sea? Do you have dolphins cavort beside you on your job, befriend you, and then help you to safety? What do you see from your office windows? Imagine the view if you were to work on a structure 97 times taller than Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, while wondering what would happen to you if you lost your footing? During your commute to work, have you ever dreamed you were test-riding a maglev capsule 84 times faster than the Japanese SCMaglev, traveling 80 km above the surface of the planet? Do you like your co-workers? Do they kid around like the members of your team would while building a machine that can throw 2,000 5-metric-ton payloads per day into space? What do YOU do when you hang out with them after hours? How would you like to work on a grand project that opens space for those of us who want to go? That makes space travel as cheap as ocean cargo travel? Robert Williscroft makes all of this real in Slingshot , a novel about the people building the first space launch loop. You experience the adventure through the eyes of Alex, Margo, and Klaus, the field engineers in charge. You get to know the divers, (the best from all over the world, including Dive Boss Pearl, a Gullah/Geechee oil rig diver), and the construction workers, including High-Iron Mohawks. Lori, the syndicate holo reporter who does more than just report on the events surrounding the project, becomes as involved as the team members. You also experience the project through the eyes of the terrorists (of course there are bad guys!). This novel will delight readers who like the technical hard science fiction, while being enjoyable for those of us less technically inclined. Williscroft includes a glossary, so you can learn as much of the workings as you want, or skip the technical details and enjoy the ride. I highly recommend this book! PS – The sequel, The Starchild Compact , is already available, and is just as good!

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Rosenman

    Slingshot – Building the Largest Machine in Human History Robert G. Williscroft states that Slingshot’s “ultimate function” is to provide an “economically viable” alternative to traditional rockets, which are expensive and wasteful. He presents an “inexpensive, routine” means of “transport into space from the Earth’s surface.” This launch loop, the largest machine ever built by man, is a “twenty-five hundred-kilometer-long doorway into space.” It originates in the ocean and features an eighty kil Slingshot – Building the Largest Machine in Human History Robert G. Williscroft states that Slingshot’s “ultimate function” is to provide an “economically viable” alternative to traditional rockets, which are expensive and wasteful. He presents an “inexpensive, routine” means of “transport into space from the Earth’s surface.” This launch loop, the largest machine ever built by man, is a “twenty-five hundred-kilometer-long doorway into space.” It originates in the ocean and features an eighty kilometer high skytower. Williscroft takes care to describe in precise, scientific detail the engineering and composition of this huge device and to explain exactly how it moves and functions. Is he successful? Speaking personally, I absolutely came to believe the launch loop existed and stretched from Baker to Jarvis islands in the equatorial Pacific. When men boarded the capsule for the five-minute whiz trip to the top of the skytower, I rode with them, and when the author described each step High-Iron workers took in building the tower, I was part of the crew. While the launch loop is the center of this novel, Slingshot is about a great deal more. It begins with the haunting, mythic mystery of Amelia Earhart and ends . . . well, let’s just say the ending is one of the most powerful and moving I’ve ever read. There’s also high finance, intrigue, and a conspiracy or two against Slingshot. Dolphins and deadly sharks play and attack, and we have romance and sex and more romance and sex. There’s adventure, heroism, and the striving to achieve humanity’s great dream of reaching the stars. And let’s not forget a cast (count them!) of 69, not to mention incidental personnel. All in all, it’s a sweeping, complex canvas which stretches from the equatorial Pacific to Seattle to elsewhere. However, I have a few complaints. The security for this ambitious project seems porous at times, with injurious results. In a hard science fiction novel such as this one, I would expect DNA tracking, retinal scans, or at least a data bank of fingerprints to prevent sabotage. Also, there is a bit of telegraphing with a sequence of clues concerning a climactic event in the conclusion. I kept thinking, “Hey, I know in general what’s going to happen.” Perhaps my biggest complaint involves the genre or sub-genre of hard science fiction, which is very difficult to write and pull off completely. There’s always the danger of focusing too much on science and giving short shrift to one’s characters. In my 1995 interview with Mike Resnick, he said, “I think to the extent that science and technology intrude upon the human values of a story, to that extent the story may succeed as science fiction, but it fails as fiction.” Maybe it’s just me, but I would have liked a little more fleshing out of major characters such as Alex Regent and Klaus Blumenfeld. If they have any personal problems and traits unrelated to their jobs, they seem minor at best. Regardless, this is a wonderful, awe-inspiring novel that establishes the foundation for the rest of the series. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Starchild Compact, which I have just purchased.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leroy Erickson

    I was so looking forward to this book. I was hoping that it would be a nice, forward looking, exciting proposal for the future, akin to Arthur C. Clarke's "The Fountains of Paradise". Instead it's a trite adventure story which spends far too much time on political accusations, an odd attitude about the environment and blatant sexism, and depends on unrealistic engineering accomplishments which were really unnecessary for the story. If the launch loop, which is the basis for the story, is an achi I was so looking forward to this book. I was hoping that it would be a nice, forward looking, exciting proposal for the future, akin to Arthur C. Clarke's "The Fountains of Paradise". Instead it's a trite adventure story which spends far too much time on political accusations, an odd attitude about the environment and blatant sexism, and depends on unrealistic engineering accomplishments which were really unnecessary for the story. If the launch loop, which is the basis for the story, is an achievable, workable device, it would be wonderful, as would the space elevator from Fountains of Paradise or the mass launcher as described in Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress". But while I can recommend the Clarke and Heinlein books to people to learn about their devices, I just can't do that with this book. Some of the statements and ideas in the book are just so astonishing! The only reason that the U.S. doesn't have a more active space program is Barack Obama. It's OK to cut down all the trees in the Amazon rain forest because algae produce more oxygen than the trees do. Any attractive sexy newswoman will obviously use sex to advance her career and to gain interviews. Other than that, the story was OK. But ...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Slingshot: Building the Largest Machine in Human History (The Starchild Trilogy Book 1) by Robert G. Williscroft Imagine a Sci-Fi novel centered around the construction of the first starship, complete with detailed schematics and detailed descriptions of the construction techniques, along with the inner-workings of the propulsion systems, weapons, sanitation, food-preparation, etc. Now, add a conspiracy to scuttle the project from a shadowy organization that plants agents on the construction crew Slingshot: Building the Largest Machine in Human History (The Starchild Trilogy Book 1) by Robert G. Williscroft Imagine a Sci-Fi novel centered around the construction of the first starship, complete with detailed schematics and detailed descriptions of the construction techniques, along with the inner-workings of the propulsion systems, weapons, sanitation, food-preparation, etc. Now, add a conspiracy to scuttle the project from a shadowy organization that plants agents on the construction crew to commit acts of sabotage like planting a bomb in the munitions bay and cutting cables holding the half-finished ship in place. The villains have an environmental/political objection to space flight and an ends-justifying-the-means mentality. The story would follow the chief construction engineer and his team, including an attractive and smart female specialist, as they struggle to overcome the obstacles to finish the project, face multiple life-threatening perils, and also deal with their growing sexual attraction. That story is what Robert G. Williscroft is going for in his novel, “Slingshot,” which is the first in a sci-fi trilogy called “The Starchild.” According to the book’s forward, the baseline scientific concept is founded in a real idea for a “launch loop” that would hurl objects into Earth orbit without the need for rockets. Williscroft attempts to explain the physics of the theoretical project with detailed descriptions and diagrams. But, although I generally love to read about such things, I was never able to fully envision the launch loop, the “largest machine in human history.” But, Sci-fi is often about suspending disbelief about the technological premises that the author puts forward and riding along with the story. The good news is that this book is very well-written and well-edited, with many gripping and lovely descriptions, including undersea diving sequences and sub-orbital space scenes. At times, the descriptions are longer and more detailed than necessary, but fans of good prose will find the pages easy to read. The bad news is that the character-driven portions of the story fall short of gripping, and the plot points where we can’t and shouldn’t suspend disbelief fail to create any real suspense and in many cases just don’t make sense. The main characters are Alex (the chief engineer of the project) and Margo (the attractive and smart head of undersea construction). The author tells us constantly that they are attracted to each other, but the attraction remains unrequited. Meanwhile, it seems like every other female character is over-sexed and plucked from the pages of a romance novel. There are many, many other peripheral characters, making it difficult to follow at times, but none are ever fleshed out well enough to really care about them. The villains of the story similarly lack sufficient back-story and explanation to make us really dislike them. They pop into and out of the narrative in small snippets to state plot points, but they never feel really menacing. The plot points, which move along very, very slowly, also fail to really come together. The shadowy villains work for an organization called Environment Inc., which opposes the Slingshot project because it has potential to harm the planet in some unexplained way. Alex convinces several of the youthful agents of an environmental protest group that Slingshot is actually the greenest engineering project ever and that it really will help save the planet, but the boss villains are still hell-bent on wrecking it. EI is so well-financed and so able to come up with whatever resources it needs on a moment’s notice (without any explanation) that it’s at times comical rather than suspenseful. This organization can get two federal agents to quit their jobs, create fake documents, and fly to Alex’s base of operations in a ruse to recover a saboteur, but EI apparently has no competent agents of its own to send in to finish off the job. This makes little sense. Meanwhile, Alex and his engineering team can solve complex problems in days, can manufacture sophisticated parts for the project in weeks, and can implement new back-of-a-napkin plans whenever needed. Suspension of disbelief as to the underlying tech doesn’t mean that the reader can accept any plot device that seems impossible. (It’s also implausible that the chief project engineer and his primary deputy would be personally diving (alone) to inspect a sabotaged bit of underwater equipment, fighting off shark attacks in the process, rather than sending in one of the 2000 other employees who are on the project payroll.) There’s an attempt to drag in a corrupt official of a rogue foreign government, but that, too, fails to hit the mark. In the end, the story has a good premise, but the promise of the premise is never completely fulfilled. There are some good sequences here, but the quality writing is wasted while the reader waits for the next important plot development that either never comes or proves to be disappointing. It is, apparently, very hard to make a story about a construction project edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, which is too bad.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jay Batson

    This is an uncomfortable review to write. There are reasons I want to like the book: the idea of a big slingshot to send stuff to space is fascinating, the story could have been suspenseful, and more. But I can't give this book more than 3 stars (using my consistent rating scale - see http://startupdj.com/book-rating-rules ). Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. This book builds a story around a project to build a "Launch Loop" - a very l This is an uncomfortable review to write. There are reasons I want to like the book: the idea of a big slingshot to send stuff to space is fascinating, the story could have been suspenseful, and more. But I can't give this book more than 3 stars (using my consistent rating scale - see http://startupdj.com/book-rating-rules ). Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. This book builds a story around a project to build a "Launch Loop" - a very large scale (1,800 km) slingshot that accelerates capsules from zero to launch earth escape velocity - in a horizontal direction (vs rocket-ship vertical). The project - and story - must surmount a combination of leviathan-sized technical challenges and saboteurs to succeed. This premise holds interesting - but ultimately unfulfilled - potential. But sadly, the writing simply falls flat for me. The characters have all the elements that you might want; super-capable project leads, nefarious and unlikeable villains, along with a cast of supporting characters. All the traits you would want these characters to have are dutifully given. But they're just not presented in an interesting read. The descriptions seem flat, intellectual, and didn't generate affection (or dislike). It's the same with the story line; it felt like it was taking a long time to make progress in the actual story, even though I was reading chapter after chapter. The adventure / suspense was simply missing. The elements are there; but the exciting writing is missing in action. Sometimes I felt like I was reading an academic post-hoc analysis of the build project. The remainder of the time I felt like I was reading the foreward to the book; an interesting build-up to what I hope could be a good book; but the good book never materialized. Then there is the problem the author faces in trying to describe the tech. Have you ever tried to read a text-description of something that took a long time to describe in words, but when you saw the image, you understood it immediately? This book suffers from this problem from end-to-end. There is a TON of descriptions of the way this slingshot device is built, and the author relished in using text to describe lots of detail. Sadly, I got bored of trying to construct the image of any given thing in my mind, and ended up skimming the description until the story picked up again. IMO, given the need to describe so much physical stuff, the author should have worked with an illustrator to get the things drawn up, and simply embedded those in the story - and shortened the descriptions. One minor nit was the enormous suspension of disbelief that I had a hard time with on how quickly and flawlessly solutions to huge engineering challenges could be met. When 40km of heavy cable comes crashing down on you from the sky, it doesn't get cleared - and the structures under it rebuilt - in a week. The thorny solutions that are thought up by a single human, built in a couple of days from exotic materials that happen to be available at a nearby warehouse strained credibility. This book is too near-future to escape from the physical realities of tackling the challenges this project faced. The only other thing that bugged me was the sex. I'm good with sex in books; most of us have it, and it is often a key element in stories. But the sex in this book (mostly) did absolutely nothing for the story. The bits of this thrown in were so gratuitous that it actually took away my affection for the characters, rather than increased it. I can't tell you why; it just diminished them rather than make them more likable, or human. Despite this comparatively negative review, if you're a book-a-week reader, and want a nice distraction from an interesting idea, it's an ok read to zip through. Plus, I'll give the author another chance; the included teaser of the opening chapter of the author's next book sounded immediately better than the entire book Slingshot. I hope for good stuff.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Long

    It has its up and downs I think this book is more about trying to create a better tomorrow than about space travel. I must admit that the technology side had my head spinning. Although the author has done a brilliant job of explaining the various stages of deep sea construction - solar and deep upwelling water pushing turbines - and so much more, I would have liked less of that and more about the characters - especially Alex and Margo. Some of the downside was when the nymphomaniac reporter was b It has its up and downs I think this book is more about trying to create a better tomorrow than about space travel. I must admit that the technology side had my head spinning. Although the author has done a brilliant job of explaining the various stages of deep sea construction - solar and deep upwelling water pushing turbines - and so much more, I would have liked less of that and more about the characters - especially Alex and Margo. Some of the downside was when the nymphomaniac reporter was brought into the story equation. The dolphins were a brilliant touch to this story. I'm sorry I couldn't give this a higher grade, but this is my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Howard Brazee

    The technology of the Slingshot, a machine that ejects spaceships from earth is fascinating, and much of this story shows how it would be built. The conflict with bad guys manipulating idiot greens into sabotaging it didn't work. (and the good guys are too good).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Koeur

    https://koeur.wordpress.com/2016/12/2... Publisher: Self Publishing Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9781533214416 Genre: SciFi Rating: 2.3/5 Publishers Description: Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2,600 km between Baker and Jarvis Islands in the Equatorial Pacific. It’s about high finance, intrigue, unlimited amb https://koeur.wordpress.com/2016/12/2... Publisher: Self Publishing Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9781533214416 Genre: SciFi Rating: 2.3/5 Publishers Description: Slingshot is a mystery – about a missing aviatrix, a conspiracy, a true-believer. Slingshot is an adventure – about following a dream, the ocean-deep, outer space. Slingshot is about constructing the first space launch-loop stretching 2,600 km between Baker and Jarvis Islands in the Equatorial Pacific. It’s about high finance, intrigue, unlimited ambition, heroism, fanaticism, betrayal…and about opening space to the common person. Review: Ah, smugness where is they sting? Margot: Hot and sexy-smart with gumption, perky nipples and blushes galore. Klaus: The boisterous German giant with a glint in his eyes and a taste for beer and blonde women. Alex: Super engineer with dashing good looks, brilliant insight and a penchant for adorable leadership. Mabel: Genius program manager whom can multi-task simultaneously while solving every problem while looking at snow capped mountains. With hot and sexy young marauders sabotaging their buoy lines and hot and sexy reporters wanting exclusive rights to the story and their naughty bits, Slingshot is a tale that rams home the idea that engineering is not for nerds anymore. Everyone on this crew is just oh so fucking perfect and speshul. The constant love/lust interests is a common theme that begins a pedantic downturn about half way through. Sex pot reporter, Lori is in just about every scene constantly attempting to seduce anyone within spitting distance. And how they let an eco-terrorist escape multiple times and make multiple attempts at sabotage is just not believable. Mabel constantly looks at “The snow covered peaks of Mt. St. Helens/Olympics/Rainier” from her Seattle office. Only you can’t see Mt. St. Helens from Seattle. Coffee is also over-used as a smugness vehicle for our horny heroes. The capper to this bag of assembled words is Mabel’s infatuation and adoration of Dixie Lee Ray. Really? I mean, fooking really? D. L. Ray was and still is, the worst Washington State Governor ever. With her failed programs, policies and management, she left a residue which still taints a once proud state. Policies that include rampant urban growth, docking super tankers in Puget Sound, dumping radioactive waste in the sea, and dismissing the need to clean up the radioactive Hanford site or most of industrial Puget Sound. Weird coming from a biologist, eh? If you like novels that are extremely formulaic and were written with a movie deal in mind, then Cumsh….er, Slingshot is the novel for you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marlon Amoah

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peeter Mõtsküla

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristle Belback

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Strait

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Okorududu

  29. 5 out of 5

    Isiah Marsteller

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol Hornshaw

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