Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Saturn Run: Sound Science and Sound Writing

Book Review: Saturn Run by John Sanford and Ctein
Version: Hard cover library borrow

Interestingly, the first time I tried to read Saturn Run, I thought the first few pages were hog wash and I returned the book to the library. Low and behold, a few months later I looked for something interesting to read and didn't recognize the title and borrowed the book again. This time, I fell in love with the book. What's a reader to say?

What would you do if the president of the United States asked you to join a crew headed to a distant planet in our solar system to beat the rest of the world to tap into a suspected alien base? And what would you think if one of the other major powers jumped into the race to beat you there, and their crew was most likely filled with military personnel, while yours was filled with scientists, engineers, and just a few security personnel? And what if on the way your head of security had a good-odds suspicion that there was a spy on board your ship sabotaging your engines? That's part of the story line behind Saturn Run, about a U.S. rocket headed to Saturn attempting to beat the Chinese there to secure alien technological secrets before anyone else. The crew is made up of engineers, scientists, an anthropologist, a video photographer, a news reporter, a national security operative, and a handful of assorted others. On the China ship is a military crew hellbent on beating the Americans there. Along the way, the U.S. ship loses an engine and a chief engineer, slowing its progress, but not enough for the Chinese to beat them. But when the China ship arrives, it's apparent their ship is disabled and the U.S. ship must decide whether to give them aid. Along with the hard science in this space adventure, then, is also political intrigue. And who in the end wins the alien technology. And what about the aliens at the base?

Saturn Run is well thought out and plotted, and the authors put a lot of effort into making the engineering as accurate as possible so the space ships could reach Saturn in months instead of years. The characters are realistic, although I kept wondering, would the United States really send amateur space travelers or would it send seasoned astronauts who also trained in the other disciplines? The U.S. ship is a reworked International Space Station, and I have some doubts about the feasibility of that as well. Still, it doesn't get in the way of a good story. It includes a great surprise at the end, making the long slog through 486 pages worth the read.

Ever have one of those books it takes more than once to become vested in? That's the way it was for me with Saturn Run. I think you should give it a try. It's a great story and worth a read.

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