Friday, October 25, 2019
Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker
The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker.
I came across this book on Amazon's First Reads. It caught my attention because it's a true science fiction book. No fantasy, no Star Wars space opera, not even Star Trek. This is pure space technology that could be possible in the not too distant future. It's based on Buz Aldrin's carefully thought out Mar's Accelerator. It's explained before the story begins.
Wow! Pure science, possible science, not warp speed and blasters. Harks back to the days of Asimov and Arthur C. Clark.
The Aldrin is the space ship or space train using the Aldrin Accelerator: the process where the ship uses the gravity of the planets to propel it like a slingshot to travel between earth and mars. It takes months to travel between the planets which makes the ship have to be self sustaining with hydroponics, means of producing oxygen, and recycling water. The ship stays in continual orbit between the two planets.
When it approaches either planet regular ships from space platforms or the moon dock with the ship to take off cargo and passengers and load up for the trip to earth where the process is repeated.
Naturally there's an interplanetary government with military to police the settlements on the moon and mars. Merchants have invested huge sums of money in the Aldrin for transport of goods to and from.
The story is in the form of an inquiry into the captain of the Aldrin and crew of mutiny. A special investigator is sent to make sense of why the captain and crew refused to follow direct orders from the admiralty.
Inspector General Park Yerim conducts the inquiry to determine if a court marshal should be convened. The young woman thrust into this duty as she was the only member of the IG that could make the connection shuttle to the Aldrin in the window of opportunity faces pressure from the admiralty, merchants and space forces to set up the court marshal. Being independent of the military she conducts as impartial an inquiry as possible and interviews the crew of the Aldrin before interviewing and deposing the Government's side and the captain.
While interviewing the crew they each tell stories about Captain Aames. Each story gives the history of Captain Aames as a first class bastard who pushed his crew to the breaking point, but those who meet his standards survive. Each story leads up to the mutiny and the subsequent judgement meted out by Inspector Yerim.
The novel is a bit of back and forth. Yerim is conducting the investigation then there's a story, then back to the investigation and another story. The progression of stories gives the whole picture, but can be tedious at first. As you get used to it the more rhythm it has and it's easier to follow along.
Yerim's judgement caught me by surprise, but it was a good resolution to the problem.
A very enjoyable read.