Friday, February 27, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawyers, engineers, love, bureaucrats, mountain lions, and de-orbiting space junk: It's GREAT!, February 27, 2015
This review is from: Manx Prize (Kindle Edition)
Laura is, as I am, a fan of the Mad Genius Club. When I discovered she had placed 'Manx Prize' in KU, it hit my 'QUICK! READ IT!' list. Last night, before I started, I explained to my fat black Manx SugarBelly that the book was written in her honor. She really didn't seem impressed, but such is the nature of cats.
In a discussion last week, I postulated that there are certain Reader Demands. The first of these is that readers should have a reasonable chance on judging a book by its' cover. Laura SCORES! Not only is the art beautiful, it also tells you that the book is going to involve satellite manipulation, and that there is going to be an edgy relationship between a nice looking couple. The cover art is by Phil Smith, kudos to him.
The lovely lady on the cover turns out to be engineer Charlotte Fisher. The story begins with her discovery that a random piece of space junk has killed two people in Texas, and her justified worry that this is going to hurt her chances for safely de-orbiting dead satellites to win the Manx Prize, consisting of $50 million in gold.Then comes some excellent writer's craft: Laura mentions just a tiny bit of Charlotte's back story; but the WAY she does it is really quite wonderful. She gives us the bleak, unembellished punchline of "the Erawan disaster of Charlotte's youth, the disaster her father had presided over so helplessly;" and THAT'S IT! That, fellow readers, is as fine an example of setting the hook as you are going to see. Of course, over the course of the novel, we get the whole story, but it's so much more effective the way she tells it.
Honestly, I'm so impressed by that little device, I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about the rest of the story. There is a shy little love story, which is underplayed wonderfully, particularly when it is explained that the reason it goes so slowly is due to the ethics of a lawyer (!). The discussion of the deer problem is funny; there is also a Keystone Kops sort of episode where one of the minor characters shoots (non-fatally) an investigator. There is enough science in the story to make it matter, for those of us who like hard sci-fi, but not so much that you need classes in physics to understand what is going on.
All of the story threads resolve, but there is enough to build on for at least one more book in the series.
And the nice-looking young couple on the cover do work out the ethics in the end!