The premier purveyor of flyboy thrillers (Combat, 2001, etc.) varies his formula with a comic, feel-good SF adventure that reads like a Disney made-for-TV movie. The metallic glint that Rip Cantrell spies on the desert horizon is no mirage. Camped out in the Sahara with geological survey team along the border between Libya and Chad, the resourceful Cantrell finds a chunk of metal appearing in a mass of sandstone, and, after many hours of chipping away, exposes a saucer about 70 feet in diameter with a bubble cockpit on top and a hatch designed to be opened by a human hand. Even more remarkable: the interior contains futuristic technology that isn’t so far advanced that Rip and members of the team can’t puzzle it out. Though it’s been buried in the sands for at least 140,000 years, the ship uses water as a fuel, has computer screens, anti-gravity capability and a headset that provides telepathic links to the ship’s memory. Word of the discovery leaks out to greedy Australian billionaire Roger Hedrick, who sends his thugs to steal the craft so Hedrick can profit on the technology; and the US Air Force also hears, and dispatches its UFO team to dismiss the saucer as a hoax. Among those on the team is beautiful, spunky former female test-pilot Charlotte “Charley” Pine, who lets Cantrell talk her into flying the saucer, with him navigating, just as the Libyan army shows up. The two fly back to America, scare and bedazzle some homespun types, and then, with Cantrell’s uncles—Arthur “Egg” and lawyer Ollie Cantrell—helping out, avert a series of increasingly comic and violent crises at home and in Australia, while delivering optimistic messages about humanity’s ability to meet future challenges. . . .
Funny, featherweight frolic reminiscent of the we-found-a-spaceship-in-our-backyard SF juveniles of the 1930s.