Recovering a stolen NASA spacecraft turns out to be only the beginning for Neil and his crew of gonzo video gamers.
Having carelessly lost both the Golden Gecko, which carried an expedition to Mars, and now the sleek new Newt, NASA has only the Fossil left in more or less flyable condition. Unfortunately, that prototype was designed for a chimpanzee crew and so is too small for full-sized astronauts. Fortunately, the teen geeks introduced in series opener The Nerdy Dozen (2014) are not only the right size, but eager to get their hands on yet more secret government high tech. (The revelation that Earth is just days away from being destroyed by a large asteroid raises the stakes somewhat.) And so the stage is set for Neil and Co. to go careening through clouds of space junk to a secret orbiting settlement, then on to Mars and back for a dramatic double rescue. Credible astrophysics never even approach Miller's bucket list, and his blithe assumption that the cast will already be familiar to readers may cause a bit of floundering. Still, along with copious compensatory banter and silly antics, the author folds in opportunities aplenty for Neil to demonstrate leadership qualities—ranging from befriending a hostile chimp by teaching him a better way to peel a banana to single-handedly saving a planet.
Space farce, to infinity and...well...if not beyond, then to Mars at least. (Science fiction. 10-12)