On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin, along with crewmate Neil Armstrong, made history as they placed humankind's first steps on the moon.
Now, in The Return, written by award winning novelist John Barnes, Aldrin offers a compelling novel about the opportunities and dangers that confront us today-and shows why we must, and will, seize the challenges before us.
When a tragic Shuttle accident kills a world-famous basketball player on his trip into space, a trip that had been planned as a PR coup for the space program, former astronaut Scott Blackstone is out of a job. Worse, he and his "Citizen Observer" program are vilified in the media, and he's being sued for a billion dollars. His older brother, Nick, research chief for a major aerospace firm, persuades Scott's estranged ex-wife, Thalia-a top-ranked attorney-to take on Scott's defense. Gradually, it begins to appear that the "accident" might not have been an accident at all.
Meanwhile, as long feared, India and Pakistan go to war-and, worse, Pakistan deploys a nuclear device high in the upper atmosphere, putting the crew of the orbiting International Space Station in iminent danger of destruction by radiation exposure. While the world's space vehicles are grounded by the radiation storm set off by the detonation, only a few weeks remain to rescue the crew, and there's no known way to do it. Save, perhaps, for a secret project of Nick's...
The Return is a story of outsized characters, global crises, and big, daring ideas...and-as told by Buzz Aldrin-it carries a ring of truth. He's been there. He's done that. And he's already helped change the world.
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Old-school moonwalker Buzz Aldrin teams up again with former Hugo and Nebula Awards nominee John Barnes to pen another near-future SF tale focused on the fate of the U.S. space program. But as with the duo's previous effort, 1996's Encounter with Tiber, Aldrin's ideas can take center stage a little too conspicuously, which, regardless of your own views on the subject, doesn't always make for the best story. Part thriller, part infomercial for the Aldrin space manifesto, The Return fumbles only in its lack of subtlety: The book's protagonist, Scott Blackstone, is a technically accomplished and charismatic retired astronaut who runs a foundation called ShareSpace, whose mission is to send everyday citizens into outer space. And what do you know--in real life Aldrin is a technically accomplished and charismatic retired astronaut who runs a foundation called ShareSpace, whose mission is to send everyday citizens into outer space. (Talk about your expert author.)
Of course you read Aldrin not because you think he's the next Ben Bova but because he's a space-race winner, a bright man with inspiring ideas. And Barnes, who's already proven himself with topnotch titles like Mother of Storms, helps Aldrin get his point across admirably, spinning a tale that begins with ShareSpace's third Citizen Observer to accompany a space shuttle mission: a legendary, recently retired basketball hero known around the globe as simply "MJ." Disaster strikes, though, while the beloved MJ is airborne, and Blackstone soon finds himself relying on his lawyer ex-wife to come to ShareSpace's defense. Was the disaster an accident? Don't count on it. --Paul HughesFrom the Publisher:
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