Colossus

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Pub Date 26 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 20 Apr 2024
BooksGoSocial | Parliament House Press

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Description

“...a spine-tingling sf novel certain to wow readers who want to explore sentient AI, parallel universes, paranoia, and sustaining human consciousness for generations to come.” - Booklist

For fans of psychological SF novels like THE GONE WORLD and SIX WAKES

Economics professor Clay West has always explained the world through the lens of his profession. But after his girlfriend Karla takes Dying Wish—a drug that supposedly reveals the nature of reality moments before it claims your life—Clay is devastated. No amount of rationalization can explain Karla's actions.
Distraught, Clay joins a mission into the dark emptiness of space where answers are promised to reside. But when the ship begins to malfunction, Clay and the surviving crew members suspect there's more to the mission than they've been told. They've been lied to, and they're drifting into dead space.
Clay's memories of Karla haunt him even more than the ship's chaos, and there's something wrong with his memories: he has too many. The ship's Al tells Clay his false memories are a normal side-effect of the hibernation, but to Clay, the memories suggest something far more insidious.

He's been on this ship before...
“...a spine-tingling sf novel certain to wow readers who want to explore sentient AI, parallel universes, paranoia, and sustaining human consciousness for generations to come.” - Booklist

For fans of...

Advance Praise

“COLOSSUS is one of those books that rewires your brain as you read it—a stellar work of intelligence and imagination that had me flipping pages almost quicker than I could read them. This is science fiction that harnesses the wonder of the universe and I will read anything else that Ryan Leslie conjures.” – Chris Panatier, author of STRINGERS and THE PHLEBOTOMIST

Ryan Leslie has gifted us a heartbreaking and harrowing tale of quantum immortality with love exploding at its heart. Peopled with bold and vivid characters, human and those a bit more than human, and overflowing with mind-expanding concepts, Colossus is a tremendous work of science fiction. – Josh Rountree, author of THE LEGEND OF CHARLIE FISH

COLOSSUS had me engrossed. Let’s hope all such literary forays are as engaging as this one. – Sean Gibson, author of THE PART ABOUT THE DRAGON (WAS) MOSTLY TRUE

“COLOSSUS is one of those books that rewires your brain as you read it—a stellar work of intelligence and imagination that had me flipping pages almost quicker than I could read them. This is science...


Available Editions

EDITION Ebook
ISBN 9781736981931
PRICE $9.99 (USD)
PAGES 400

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Average rating from 41 members


Featured Reviews

This book legit gave me the creeps, no joke. I was reading it, and I couldn't put it down, but at the same time, I was lowkey terrified. The way the author set up the scenes and messed with your head, it was like a rollercoaster of suspense. Every time I turned a page, I was like, "What's gonna happen now?"

There were these moments that caught me off guard, and I was just sitting there, wide-eyed, thinking, "Did that really just happen?" It's like they took all the things that give you the heebie-jeebies and cranked it up to the max.

The whole vibe of the book was intense, and I swear, I was hearing weird noises in my house while I was reading. It's like the story got under my skin, and I couldn't shake off that feeling of unease. Even after I finished, I was checking the corners of my room before turning off the lights.

No doubt, this book left me on edge. It's like, if you're into getting spooked without a doubt, this is the one.

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I won’t even begin to pretend that I understood much of the science in this book. It’s never been my best subject and I’ve never even taken a physics course. And this is a VERY science-y book.

However, I absolutely adored it. While the sci fi goes fairly hard at times, Leslie does a great job of putting it into words that make it obtainable for a non-science person such as myself. The book itself is pretty wild but the story is more of a slow burn. I was absolutely invested but did struggle a bit with part 2. Lisa was a super strange but very lovable character. I enjoyed Clay, Father K and Justine as well.

While the sci fi aspect was difficult at times, the themes in this book (converging realities) is something I’ve always loved and as a result I would definitely recommend this book.

I received an advance review copy for free from NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Absolutely mind bending!

I don't tend to read a lot of sci-fi but the synopsis caught my attention. And wow! This hard sci-fi book encompasses everything! From cryogenic space travel, AI, and quantum physics; to psychodelic drugs and philosophy, to parallel universes, and beyond! I won't go into the plot because I believe this is the type of novel which is best read going in blind.

Leslie seems to know his science. And it is explained so well that it's easy to comprehend, unlike some other hard sci-fi novels. I could go on and on about this novel as there were so many layers and complexities to it. The only thing I had a little trouble with was the middle of the story when things got a little bit slow, when we're given the backstory, and there were even (cringe) footnotes. However, even though they slowed the story down even more, I thought they ultimately did add to the story.

If you love sci-fi, get this novel!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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I'd like to thank NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the eArc received in exchange for an honest review.

That said - this book was fantastic! I love grand scale SciFi and having just finished the Three Body Problem I needed something similar in quality to follow up - Leslie didn't disappoint.
Colossus has all the tropes I love: a journey to deep space, true self-aware AIs and the moral dilemmas they pose (and face), fringe science, and tech that grows out of human control. All told with a seamless prose that kept me engaged all through the story. The characters are well rounded, coherent and believable in all their forms (trust me, this will make sense once you read it).
Lastly, it's important to note too that while the book does explore some complex theories and fringe science it's not overly wordy or complex in a way that alienates the casual reader.
Hope to add this one to my physical shelves very soon :)

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(ARC review from NetGalley)

Oh man, I didn't realize I had a real thing for the Sci-Fi trope 'issues with cryo-sleep' (maybe because Passengers wasn't such a great film and it distracted me from liking the trope) but Colossus absolutely brings out the best of this.

The book follow Clay West. A former economics lecturer who for various (spoilery) reasons finds himself volunteering for a long (unbelievably so) term space journey for what has been described as a colonizing mission to create a new society. The book begins as Clay is woken prematurely from a cryo-sleep and is faced with about a dozen moral dilemmas as he tries to figure out a. what to do and b. a seemingly endless amount of mystery about the true purpose of the mission.

As the story progresses we learn more about Clay's backstory, Part I dances between the 'present' and this history in a seamless and well paced narrative. I often get annoyed with badly done backstory but this book does it well! We're also introduced to the complex and controversial drug "Dying Wish" a substance which allegedly brings the most euphoric realizations but is always fatal.

If you're wondering what a powerful drug has to do with a sci-fi about a very deep space mission, don't worry - as Part I comes to an end the rabbit hole of concepts grows ever deeper and crazier and it does not disappoint.

So overall I REALLY liked this book. I love sci-fi that doesn't shy away from really intense concepts but also manages to balance the human angle and good character stories alongside the big picture ideas.

My only beef is that Part II where the book takes us away from MC Clay for quite a while to explore the background of the more technical stuff - I recon it could have been 1/2 the length and still captured the vital parts of the story, Part II felt like a real slowing of the pace of this awesome novel and while it was worth getting through it, the section dragged a little.

As this is an advance review I'll avoid a deep dive into the concepts - but I anticipate coming back to this after release to see others interpretations and explanations, its definitely the sort of book that will generate a lot of analysis!

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I got this book from Netgalley.. And the thoughts I've shared here is completely my own.

I rarely read science fiction, once or twice a year and this was the first one. Ryan, you literally blew my mind. Even when I was working I'd be eager to read it.

Part 1: Clay was our usual hero. I actually liked the fact that by the end of Part 1 he decided to go into the TET because he had had enough. Justine is my favorite. She is a good AI and loved how she was loyal to Clay. Never liked Eric and Susan. I felt bad for father K. And Mirable was strong. The last part where Justine said in a muffled voice was sad.

Part 2: This one was taken from Esteban's journal. We read about Lisa, Gabriel, Julian and Esteban. I believe that this was required. We needed more background info. I liked the Shakespeare, Harry Potter the most here. Project Oberon was an interesting read. Well, in between the past we get back to present on the child in the dark as well but it is terrifying to read. Here, my fav ch was ch 27, the video transcript.

Part 3: Clay is back, we see Justine in her interface. Justine tries to explain how, what was it. So initially clay and Justine are dead, they now clay-many and Justine-many. Disheartening to read but interesting. He sees Karla again. Justine saves him and they are on their way to Colossus. When Esteban came back, I guess it was obvious that he wanted to be a human again. Well, Susan's death is horrific. Clay is really smart. Because as u read towards the end you'll get a better clarity on it! Esteban as demon was just wow! Father K really gave the priestly vibes in here. The end, was just... I don't have exact words but yes it made me want more.. So many things happen here. I liked the epilogue too.

The most shocking thing for me is towards the end when Karla says that Esteban protected her and tried to send her back to Clay.

The nano plague was terrifying and I hate spiders.

This part is crazy.. I liked the references made of Airavat and Indra, savitri and satyavan.

Tip: Give it a read but read it slowly, don't rush or just skim through it. Every single sentence is important.

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thank you to netgalley for the arc in exchange for a review!

this book took me a hot minute to read just because of how much stuff was going on---science, quantum physics, guys stuck on a ship---but i think i understood most of it in the end!. the prevailing sentiment of reviewers seems to be a dislike of the estaban section, wishing for more of the clay sections, but I actually disagree. i think the esteban section was the most interesting just because it explained things, and even though the science was obviously impossible the lines of reasoning seemed real and understandable. the first and last thirds of the book were distinctly within the thriller genre, while esteban's segment was very very sci fi :)

don't get me wrong, i didn't LIKE esteban (its pretty hard to like anyone a lot in this book, they all have their bad sides and good sides) but the ent team was fascinating to me all around. and also oberon was very scary at the end but i liked his narration it was goofy

fun science fiction thriller that i wish had more science because the science that WAS there was really really awesome!

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'Colossus' starts in a way that immediately drags you into the story. Clay’s waking up on a space ship, far away from Earth. While he’s trying to figure out his whereabouts, the story gets intertwined with flashbacks from around 100 years before (close to our current time), it’s all working very well together to keep the reader’s attention. It’s not the first book I read in which someone wakes up like this, on a far away starship, seemingly all alone, but the story line is laid out nicely and kept me curious. Clay’s presence on the ship is one part of the story, the Dying Wish drug is another one. Both parts of the story are mysterious enough to keep a reader’s attention, and descriptive parts and dialogue are all well written. Justine, the ship’s AI, has a nice sense of humour on top of that.

In no time the first of three parts is over. Starting from the second part, the pace drops. The second part is one big flashback which basically explains a lot of things. Was the extensive explanation needed for the story? I don’t know. Some of it certainly, but maybe it was a little bit too much. I found myself bored at times here.

Last part, with the reader now knowing much of what there is to know, and we are back on the ship. We have a totally different understanding of what has happened and what is happening, and it is clear now that the author has done a good job stretching the possibilities of story telling in an environment full of multiverses, quantum mechanics and AIs. Although the third part was weird and chaotic at times, and drags on a little bit, it explored and incorporated several interesting ideas and seemed to go towards a certain (expected) ending. But it’s a bumpy road and it remains unclear for a long time whether the protagonists will eventually get where they want to be. It's nice that the tension is kept until the end.

I still don’t know what to make of the end though. I don’t even know if I understand it. The physics used in the book is clear to me, but I failed to form a solid idea of how the story actually ends. I don’t like fuzzy or open endings. In this case I don’t even know which of these two types of ending it is. Bummer. 3.5 stars.

(Thank you Netgalley and publisher for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.)

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Mind boggling. While I was reading this I was enthralled. There are so many little details that pieced the everything together so well. At no point did I know where this story was taking me but I enjoyed the journey. There were parts that were terrifying, others that were intriguing, and I never wanted to put the book down.

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I expected dark, scary environments combined with interesting AI from the blurb and cover - hey, I’m a sucker for a good cover, what can I say? Colossus delivered on both.

Clay, a disgraced former economics professor, finds himself hurtling through space aboard the vessel Child in the Dark after his girlfriend takes Dying Wish, a drug that reveals everything, everywhere right before killing you. He’s awakened before the rest of the crew - but before long, the ship starts to malfunction, and he is joined by others before their anticipated arrival. And why are they on this ship, again?

The sci-fi environments were vividly described and terrifying to explore with main character Clay. It felt cold and alien exploring Child in the Dark. Flashbacks to Clay’s past didn’t have that same chill of space to them, but they helped to propel the story and gave me time to start putting the puzzle at the center of this book together. The second act of the book is a deep dive into the workings of this universe, but after the fast-paced first act, it took a bit of adjustment to the slower speed here. Stick with it - it starts to come together before long. I would have loved a little more delving into the mechanics of this universe, but overall the story was cohesive and enjoyable. I found my hunches about the book to be right about as often as they were wrong, and it was fun to see some expected tropes foiled.

Science fiction sometimes suffers from unrealistic dialog, but I found the dry humor of this book to be just my speed. I found myself chuckling several times at the behavior of the under-pressure crew and the AIs.

Overall, an enjoyable SF/Horror read, though I thought it leaned more sci fi than horror. If you’re reading for that ongoing sense of foreboding and enjoy being in the dark while you scramble to piece the story together, this is a great pick.

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An intense and weird sci-fi psychological thriller that takes you beyond death and into the stars. I really have to process how I feel, or maybe I don’t …

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"Colossus" is a refreshingly creative take on hard science fiction. It follows the adventures of Clay West, an economics professor who finds himself thrust into a long-distance space expedition.

The book offers compelling characters, a vivid setting, and a thought-provoking exploration of life, death, fate, and technology. At times, the scientific details are hard to follow, but that didn't detract from the experience.

All in all, this book is a must-read for sci-fi fans, and with its philosophical themes, would make a great choice for a book club.

Thank you Netgalley and Parliament House Press for sending me an advance copy of this book for review consideration.

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Ryan Leslie gives us Colossus (2024) , a sci-fi epic about economics professor Clay who is aboard the spaceship called Child in the Dark. He is initially alone, with only the AI Justine to keep him company. The rest of the crew, brought along at the behest of the illustrious Gabriel Alvarez, has been placed into suspension pods to keep them alive on the long journey to wherever it is they are headed. Suffice it to say, that place isn’t simply Earth.

Clay has a very specific reason for taking this journey— the promise of seeing his beloved girlfriend Karla once again. An illicit drug called Dying Wish has upset the balance of traditional (recreational) drug use among the same students that Clay taught every day. Karla, it seems, was one of them. We get several flashbacks to Clay having first noticed Karla in one of his many classes. We get scenes of their courtship. Karla is an ethereal sort of girl, just as smart as her former professor, and they definitely click in an intellectual sense.

Ryan Leslie’s book asks of the reader: What, in fact, is the nature of consciousness? What is this state called “reality” which we seem to (at times begrudgingly) exist in? And how would it be possible to alter that reality, to repossess once again things and people we have lost?

Leslie’s book is at times rather dry and dull (overly descriptive scenes about science, such as parallel universes and quantum mechanics) sometimes emotionally moving (the loss of a loved one), and other times creepy (being in deep space with only your (potentially) mentally unstable crew mates and the Artificial Intelligence for company).

The atmosphere depicted within was well crafted. You can tell Leslie really cared about his subject matter, though at times the book sort of lost me with all the science-heavy theories and other little bits. Colossus is, ultimately, a story about people, and how they react in difficult situations—rather than a treatise about the future of technology and space travel. The book is competently constructed and the characters were memorable, particularly Justine, as she was almost the comic relief character in this one. I would certainly read anything else this author writes next.

I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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this had a unique concept for a scifi genre, i enjoyed the psychological feel to it and was engaged with the world overall. I enjoyed how strong the concept was and how it was written in this universe. The characters were everything that I was hoping for. The writing was perfect and I was invested in what was going.

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First off...DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary eARC from the author, since I had already enjoyed and reviewed his debut novel The Between in 2021. This didn't influence my review in any way.

LARGER THAN LIVES

On his site, Ryan Leslie states that it took him ten years to complete this novel, and let me tell you, I'm not at all surprised. Colossus is an ambitious blend of genres and ideas, spanning Earth, space and parallel universes/converging realities, clones and AI wars, science and philosophy, and last but not least, love and loss. It could have gone very well or very badly, but luckily, the result is impressive, and far less challenging that one might think (I mean, it's still a complex book, but you won't get lost while reading it). Putting his own twist on quantum science and the many-worlds theory, Leslie came up with a story where the scientific angle is just as prominent as the human one, since the two characters/forces that clash during the course of the novel and ultimately engage in a life-or-death battle are - net of the science and the technology that laid the groundwork for such a battle - the product of very human emotions. And I found it fit that the author would devote the first two thirds of his story respectively to the hero's and the villain's genesis (though Clay's section is a mix of real-time plot and flashbacks) - I mean, the general consensus seems to be that Part 2 is a tad too long, or too complex, or less intriguing, but after a couple of chapters, I started to vibe with it, and I ended up finding it both necessary and enjoyable...not to mention, funny at times. The last third is kind of an acid trip in the best way (which I suppose it indeed is, since the infamous Dying Wish makes an apparition 😂), a poignant yet sharp climax steeped in quantum physic and wrapped in a horror nightmare, and if you're into this sort of stuff, it's guaranteed to make your pulse race.

CHARACTER CONUNDRUM

I'll be honest: I found the story, with all its implications, more interesting and enjoyable than the characters. That's not to say that they weren't well-rounded or quirky enough, because for the most part, they were (though I couldn't really get a read on Eric, and I wish that the whole spaceship gang, not to mention Karla, had been given more space to breathe). What I'm trying to say is, as much as I'm on board with a flawed/damaged hero, most of the characters (including leading man Clay) seemed to lean a bit too much into that side, and some of them made me question the very idea of sending them on a deep-space mission together. Also, I found some of their quirks a bit controversial, especially in this day and age - did Lisa really need to go around wearing only her home-made scent (or smell 😂) under her mink coat, or to use the bathroom with the door open? (For your info: Lisa is an intriguing character, a tech wiz with a hippiesque streak who doesn't care what other people think of her - which I can very much get behind, but this?). And I couldn't help but detect some manic-pixie-dream-girl undertones in Karla's personality, though not in the classic sense. Lastly, while the epilogue was satisfying on the whole (if probably a tad too open/vague for certain readers' taste), I have some reservations about its playfulness and a certain character's antics. That being said, this novel is indeed a...colossal endeavour, and I can only be in awe of what the author managed to accomplish - hence the 5 stars. In short: Colossus is a strong science fiction specimen, but despite its many layers, accessible enough to cater to the occasional reader of the genre as well - and if you're a fan of crazy, yet somehow plausible science and are fond of "what if" scenarios, you'll find a lot to love in this book.

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Clay West Economics professor Falls in Love with his student Karla. They live in a time were the human population is dying from a drug called 'Dying Wish'. Surrounded by a lot of loss, Clay and Karla get romantically involved. Clay is fired when their relationship is discovered and he is left devastated With the Loss of Karla to the Drug she has taken. Clay joins a space Mission, set out to deploy a group of people in pursuit of other inhabitable planets.

The Story is split into parts. The future in space where Clay awakes many years later aboard a craft with AI and malfunctioning sleep pods. As the surviving crew is slowly awakened, They race to find a solution to their damaged ship, shortage of food and dominating AI minds aboard. You also go back to the Past; how it all began. Dying Wish, how it was created. The minds behind the AI development and you also follow the backstory to Clay and Karla how they met, fell in love and the night Karla took the drug. A bit difficult to follow half way through the plot, there is a lot of technical AI terminology and even Politics intertwined. The plot gets a bit repetitive with all the reality versions that take place with the characters and AI clones. Lots of Intense page turning moments that keep you on the edge and wanting more. I loved the story between Clay and karla; transcending throughout time and space.
I really Really enjoyed this book. A Creative, refreshing, sci-fi, thriller with a hint of Horror.
Highly recommend this book!

Thank you Netgalley and BooksGoSocial | Parliament House Press for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

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This story had me absolutely HOOKED. This was a first time read with anew author and boy was I impressed!!!
I absolutely loved the creepy and unsettling vibes I got, but the layers of the characters and their storylines... "Chef's Kiss".
I highly recommend this novel for all lovers and creepy and anyone in a reading slump, this book had me at the edge of my seat!!

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This book was an amazing take on the SciFi genre. I found myself wanting more and more with every chapter.

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