A ham-handed, sophomoric thriller about the international race to orbit solar-powered satellites and the struggle to keep outer space open for free enterprise.
Pseudonymous astrophysicist Kotani and science fiction writer Roberts, veterans of four previous collaborations (Act of God, not reviewed, etc.), presumably get the science right. The problem is, all the technical stuff about rocketry, space stations, and solar energy is delivered by a cast of stiff characters in equally stiff dialogue. Cash Carlson, former government spook and hit man, is now the owner of Lone Star Space Systems. Committed to solar power because Earth's resources are dwindling, he's also vehemently in favor of privatizing all the technologies needed to make feasible the use of solar power. Ol' Cash—who likens himself to Buck Rodgers—also digs the fierce competition with Preston Reid, chair of Space Technologies, and the ultra-aristocratic Jean-Claude du Mont, head of the European Space Enterprise. Not only is du Mont determined to make France the world’s dominant space power, but he also wants back his girlfriend, Sachi Sasano. A science writer and descendant of samurai, Sachi has hired on to work for the dashing but humble Cash. No `simpering coquette` she, Sachi can still erupt into “girlish giggling` at Cash's boyish charm. She's not laughing, though, when she realizes that du Mont has been behind the attempts on their lives and the sabotage of Cash's rockets. `Oh, Cash,` she says, `What kind of mad man are we dealing with?` Well, du Mont gets his via Cash's chief security guy, Jack Parker, grandson of Comanche chief Quanah Parker. (The number of scalping jokes should raise any reader's hackles.) In the denouement, all the competitors simultaneously launch their SolarSats and rush to get there first.
A slow-motion, hokey space opera.