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Saturn Run (Hardcover)
It's been a long time since I've read a book that I felt compelled to just carry around with me, simply to be next to the words, it was that good.
Saturn Run is straight up science fiction, a thriller set about 50 years in the future. Technology has progressed quite a bit, but not out of the reach of today's knowledge. The US has a manned space station that can be routinely visited in a matter of hours. The Chinese are planning on a visit to Mars, ostensibly just to visit but it's an ill-kept secret that they're planning on colonizing.
Then Sandy Darlington, playboy reprobate whose job at Caltech Astrophysics Group was obviously purchased for him by his extremely wealthy father, notices an anomaly in one of Saturn's rings. He brings it to his superior's attention and it goes quickly up the chain of command to President Santeros. The object Darlington saw was decelerating, stopping in the ring. Aliens are no longer theoretical.
And the race is on. The Chinese scramble to repurpose their colony ship while the US tries to figure out how to retrofit the space station into an interstellar vehicle. Who gets to the technology out there, who makes First Contact, will determine the Earth's future, and each country is determined to be that superpower.
In addition to being a world-acclaimed photographer, Ctein is a physicist, and he made sure that the actual physics necessary to make those ships functional within a tight timeline actually work, and that they're understandable to those of us, like me, who didn't fare well in high school physics. There's an explanation at the back of the book that you MUST NOT READ until you've finished the book (serious spoilers), that explains how the two authors came up with the calculations and designs they ultimately utilized. It's fascinating and completely over my head, but I suspect engineers everywhere are going to go glassy-eyed considering possibilities.
That's not enough, though, to take this from a good book to a great one. John Sandford has a proven ear for dialogue, a talent for pacing and action and humor, and a true sense of story that makes Saturn Run the fabulous book it is. The breakneck pace and the ratcheting tension are further proof of his incredible talent, but it's the people. Oh good heavens, the people.
I cared. I cared about all of them. There's the possibility of a saboteur, and the idea that it could be one of these folks whom I have come to admire and trust was disturbing. Literally, I stayed up nights thinking about it, and I hated my conclusions. And I must admit to a tear or two during some of the scenes, I care that much. Just amazing. With a cast this big, keeping all the personalities separate and distinct takes huge talent, which Sandford has in spades.
In the interests of fairness and honesty, I have to admit there is one kind of clunky bit that I found a bit disappointing, but that's a small bit in comparison to the overall brilliance of the book, and I can say with absolute certainty that it will take something beyond spectacular to knock Saturn Run out of first place in my Best of the Year list.— Fran
Fans of Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers will eat this up. --Stephen King
For fans of THE MARTIAN, an extraordinary new thriller of the future from #1 New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein.
Over the course of thirty-seven books, John Sandford has proven time and again his unmatchable talents for electrifying plots, rich characters, sly wit, and razor-sharp dialogue. Now, in collaboration with Ctein, he proves it all once more, in a stunning new thriller, a story as audacious as it is deeply satisfying.
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don t decelerate. Spaceships do.
A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.
The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect and everything you could want from one of the world's greatest masters of suspense.
About the Author
John Sandford is the author of twenty-five Prey novels, most recently Gathering Prey; eight Virgil Flowers novels, most recently Deadline; and eight other books, including the Young Adult novels Uncaged and Outrage, written with Michele Cook. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ctein is an internationally known photographer and expert on photographic printing. The holder of a double degree from Caltech in English and physics, he is the author of more than 500 articles, columns, books, and manuals, and is a well-known member of the science fiction community. He lives in San Francisco."