Olympus Bound

Gaia Book 2

Fiction - Science Fiction
507 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Olympus Bound is penned by author Zoë Routh in the science fiction, interpersonal drama, and adventure genres, and is the second novel in the Gaia series. The work is best suited to the adult reading audience as it contains explicit language throughout as well as some mild sexual references. Readers are plunged deep into a dystopian science fiction corporate thriller set within Gaia Enterprises. Commander Xanthe Waters leads the Moon base, Olympus, through a tumultuous period marked by eco-terrorism, environmental collapse, and political turmoil. As Olympus faces a crisis, a breakthrough in helium-3 technology reshapes its destiny, propelling it into the forefront of asteroid mining and becoming a sanctuary for climate refugees. Amidst the unforgiving lunar landscape, internal conflicts and fractured loyalties threaten the crew's survival. Xanthe Waters must navigate treacherous decisions while grappling with her suppressed emotions and the weight of leadership, as the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Author Zoë Routh crafts a darkly exhilarating journey through the complexities of space exploration and human drama. There are so many sharply-penned themes with strong perspectives, from Routh’s take on ecological disasters to political intrigue and emotive personal conflicts, creating a gripping narrative that weaves through different pressures and complexities with ease. This smoothness in the storytelling is enhanced by the control and confidence with which Routh presents her characters, detailing them with unique dialogue touches and close narration that lets us hear every tense heartbeat. Xanthe Waters' leadership struggles and inner turmoil are well expressed to allow us to bond closely with her, while the diverse cast of characters around Xanthe brought their own unique perspectives to the forefront. The exploration of survival in an alien environment, coupled with the examination of human dynamics and ambition, made for a riveting read that was well paced to have action-packed sections and slower moments of dramatic tension. Routh's vivid imagery and immersive storytelling transported me to the lunar landscape, where every decision carried weight and consequences echoed through the void of space. Overall, Olympus Bound is a thrilling sci-fi epic that leaves a lasting impression, perfect for fans of speculative fiction seeking an enthralling adventure beyond Earth.

Essien Asian

In Zoe Routh's Olympus Bound, the Olympus project was born from the necessity for the Gaia Enterprise to increase its influence and gather essential resources on Earth's moon. Gaia Enterprise executives explicitly chose Xanthe Waters to oversee this sensitive project. Years later, Olympus and its main crew are still fully operational, demonstrating that self-sufficiency is possible even when living far from home. However, when an unforeseen storm causes damage to the base, things get ugly. Xanthe needs to figure out how to get the remaining members of her team back to Earth safely with the limited resources at their disposal and the grudging assistance of their Chinese rivals, who have also established a moon base. She is unaware of the brewing problems back on Earth, the repercussions of which will have a lasting effect on her small community.

The author uses a small cast to emphasize interpersonal relationships and simulate potential human responses to unrest within a close-knit group. Even though this is the sequel to Terra Blanca, it works well as a stand-alone read. I adored the fascinating negotiations between Colonel Jin of the Chinese delegation and Xanthe to illustrate the political gerrymandering of multinational enterprises. Potential triangles involving Xanthe, Troy, and Jack, as well as the relationship between Max and Serena, weave into the romantic subplots. They flow naturally and realistically. With women playing significant roles in several aspects of this adventure and their strong reactions to the developing crises, there is a subtle hint at the growing significance of feminine leadership. Instead of making them appear superhuman, Routh gives them a composed, self-assured air amidst the chaos, which will appeal to female readers. Routh's storytelling technique enhances the pacing, which builds tension as the denouement draws near. By adding elements of politics, comedy, romance, and action to a classic science fiction adventure, along with a well-developed cast of characters whose origin stories are intriguing and believable, Routh transforms Olympus Bound from a futuristic adventure into an immersive drama that explores the limits of leadership.

Paul Zietsman

Olympus Bound: Gaia Book 2 by Zoë Routh chronicles the endeavors of Commander Xanthe Waters and her team of experts on the Moon base Olympus. Xanthe and her team have been stationed there to facilitate research and development for future generations living on the Moon. After a meteor strikes, the team finds themselves having to rebuild their ship and the base's atrium. With the unlikely help of Volkov, the dopplebot, and the onboard artificial intelligence Athena, the team fights to keep their hopes of survival and success alive. Back on a dystopian Earth, an ecoterrorist attack leaves their loved ones vulnerable and impacts the team's priorities and morale. Will the difficulties they face make them stronger as a team, or will the time spent on the dusty, isolated planet and the magnitude of the challenge prove too great an ordeal to overcome?
The theme of artificial intelligence and its intertwining and assistance with human intellect in Olympus Bound comes at a significant time, given the current fascination with and advances in AI. Zoë Routh has created a cast of colorful and authentic characters around this theme, and their co-habitation on the Moon base serves for interesting and heated debate, with their true colors often coming to the fore. The AI and its capabilities are not overly far-fetched, making many of the novel's concepts believable, a trademark of good science fiction. The plot develops well into the more explosive scenes and twists and turns unpredictably, keeping the reader guessing. Olympus Bound is a fascinating story that is easy to read yet challenges the reader's intellect.

Asher Syed

Zoë Routh is back with the second book in the eco-science fiction series Gaia, Olympus Bound. In book one, The Olympus Project, an environmental crisis propels a mission to the moon by Gaia. Characters Xanthe, Troy, and Xavier, alongside a diverse cast, face simulated trials to secure their place, but conflicting agendas threaten their teamwork and the mission's success. Now, Commander Xanthe Waters leads Moon base Olympus through crises amid a shattered Earth plagued by eco-terrorism and political turmoil. Facing catastrophe, the base relies on new helium-3 tech, shifting its purpose to asteroid mining and shelter for climate refugees. As internal tensions escalate, Xanthe spins multiple plates with crew mates who are even more ornery in real situations than when we first met them in the trials.

I had the pleasure of reading Zoë Routh's Gaia book one, and am thrilled that Olympus Bound has landed in my lap. Routh remains exceptional in making even the most inhumane situations show the resilience of the human spirit. It was interesting that while Xanthe is using virtual reality and nasal simulators to rally out of absolute despondency and loneliness in an advanced futuristic setting, her AI, Athena, quotes the ancient philosophy of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to encourage her to face despair with courage. It's these full-circle moments that place Routh above the parapet. I think the most telling plot point, as it reflects on us right now, is in the depiction of international enmity, manipulation, and the use of leverage to assert dominance over valuable assets and resources in scarcity. This is what makes the story so eerily easy to identify with. Another great read. Very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

The space mission of Olympus is the driving force for the characters in the science-fiction series Gaia by Zoë Routh, which begins in book one as Earth faces an environmental crisis and a lunar migration project gains traction. The corporate behemoth Gaia, desperate for the opportunity, vies for a bid alongside competitors. Individual contenders to man the mission, led by Xanthe, Troy, and Xavier, are put through simulations and interviews, hoping to make the grade. Their ability to think outside the box to solve problems and collaborate under pressure is paramount for success on the moon, and this second book in the series, Olympus Bound, shows us why. On the moon base, the crew is settling in and working toward their goals until a series of catastrophes and connected tech issues rear their heads. Olympus shifts its role, greed is prioritized, and the mission, and the souls tied to it, must be pulled back from what looks like its imminent failure.

“The meteor strike... The ice mining, the struggling water pump, the crabbiness and isolation, the fear, the crew hiding and isolated in their own quarters, the strain they were all under, the not knowing what was happening on Earth or if they would ever hear from or see Earth again.” There is not a single page of Olympus Bound by Zoë Routh that doesn't nearly suck the breath out of its readers, and the sheer volume of problems that go far beyond customary teething issues pile on until the avalanche. Routh softens the bite with a respite of intelligent wit, quipping with lines like, “We've been kind of busy,” about a delay in passing on details of yet another setback. There's also the delightful surprise later of one Mr. Puffkins. Even so, the crew clings to shreds of hope as the situation becomes dire and the mission veers toward a divergent path. Like book one, the characters are varied and have their strengths and quirks that are tested. Their development continues and Routh fleshes them out into the expanse of space. Rampant breaches of protocol and trust thrust the storyline toward a shocking ending and a promise of more to come, which I look forward to very much.