Monday, August 29, 2016

Orbital Decay by Allen Steele - Book Review #159


Published in 1989 it is impressive how believable the story was. It was especially fun to look at '89's version of 2014 as I read in in 2016.  In Steele's universe there is far more commercial activity in orbit than there is presently but it is described just as things are being imagined today.

One plot point is the orbit insertion of a satellite known as Big Ear; designed to listen in on domestic telephone conversations, to combat terrorism, and run by the NSA.  Pretty spot on except, in reality,  they figured out how to do that without the orbiting hardware.

The station is populated by all kinds of misfits who are running away from parts of their lives on Earth.  They are also suffering from some form of cabin fever being essentially trapped in their work camp.

I was hoping for a bit more of the construction of the power satellite that is in background of the story.  Not that a whole novel could be hung on that element but I still would have loved to read about the nuts and bolts of the building of such a difficult and large project.

In any case I was very impressed and just how close Steele came to reality and I did enjoy how gritty and funny it could be.  It doesn't matter where you put folks; people will be people no matter what.  They may be in space but they are still dealing with the same old problems and just trying to get by.


The inner cover

Allen Steele

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