When the four canine crew members of the starship Laika wake from induced hibernation to find a giant hole torn in the ship’s hull and their human counterparts missing, it is up to them to try and complete the mission and land on the distant planet Stepping Stone.
Breeding, training, and some genetic manipulation have helped dogs evolve to the point where they are only slightly less intelligent than humans. Dogs communicate with barks, head position, and tail wagging, which humans can understand using translation chips. Lopside, a small mutt with unruly fur, is the ship’s ratter. He, along with Daisy, a Great Dane puppy, Champion, a golden retriever, and Bug, a corgi, must fix the ship, find the missing crew, and somehow make it to their destination. But food is running low, the ship’s power is only days away from failing, and they are missing the necessary parts to fix the engines. It will take all of the Barkonauts’ talents if they are to survive. Fast-moving, funny, and suspenseful, this tale focuses on its protagonists’ creativity, cooperation, and bravery. Pensive moments about the vastness of space and the beauty of distant stars are mixed with discussion of the importance of butt-sniffing. Roro, the dog handler and gardener, has skin darker than the brown fur on Lopside’s head.
A deep-space furry adventure with heart and humor. (Science fiction. 8-12)