In space, no one can hear you scream—especially if the satellites grow cold.
Former naval officer, NSC advisor and war-gamer Coumatos teams up with writers Scott and Birnes to tender a cheerless tale of the near future in which the bad guys finally figure out what makes America tick—namely, anything high-tech. Arthur Clarke’s 2010 it ain’t; as today, it’s the old Hobbesian world of each against all, with a vigorous Taliban and al-Qaeda out there making things miserable in the imperium and a constantly resurgent Iran complicating matters—to say nothing of China, North Korea and a few other assorted states not yet convinced of essential American decency. The war-gaming scenario is this: What would happen if some rogue state or enemy organization decided to go up against the US on the technology front, starting by shooting down or otherwise silencing a satellite? If the US military had no GPS systems or satellite-guided missiles, what of its power? “Few of the world’s intellectuals, statesmen, and military leaders understand the subtle implications of a few satellites simply going silent in the cold blackness of space,” the authors aver. It’s the last subtle statement in the book, which goes on to square off square-jawed ace pilot heroes of the corn-fed variety against be-turbaned baddies who hate freedom—and, presumably, iPods and suchlike. Heavy-handed and portentous (“The room’s skepticism was palpable, hanging in the air like steam”), the narrative develops like a Mickey Spillane whodunit that had somehow landed a doomsday bomb, though with little of Spillane’s grace and class. Part Tom Clancy techno-geekery, part locker-room patriotic pep talk, part western oater in mullah’s clothing, the book grinds its way across the Asian sands and, yes, the cold blackness of space, in agonizing detail best suited to a Popular Mechanics article.
Does the world blow up? Only the most doggedly persistent of readers will care to find out.