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Clarke County, Space Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (December 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441110444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441110445
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Sheriff John Bigthorn's job of keeping the peace on "Clarke County," Earth's first orbiting space colony, seems simple enough--until a frantic young woman fleeing her gangster boyfriend seeks refuge there, bringing with her a secret that holds the key to the colony's destruction or liberation. The author of Orbital Decay (Ace, 1989) combines satire with suspense in this fast-paced adventure that belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Allen Steele is a science fiction writer with nineteen novels and five collections of short fiction to his credit. His works have been translated worldwide and have received the Hugo, Locus, and Seiun awards, and have been nominated for the Nebula, Sturgeon, and Sidewise Awards. He is also a recipient of the the Robert A. Heinlein Award. His first published story, "Live from the Mars Hotel," was published in 1988, and his first novel, Orbital Decay, was published in 1989. His best-known work is the Coyote series -- Coyote, Coyote Rising, Coyote Frontier, Coyote Horizon, and Coyote Destiny -- and the associative novels set in the same universe: Spindrift, Galaxy Blues, and Hex. A graduate of New England College and the University of Missouri, he is a former journalist, and once spent a brief tenure as a Washington correspondent. He was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and now lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and dogs.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Kelly Wagner on June 25, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clarke County - well, sounds like an all-American name, doesn't it? As it happens, the colonists have apparently named it after Arthur C. - if you're skimming through the book, you'd miss the brief mention of his statue. That said, yes, the rest of the plot does have more to do with Heinlein's books than Clarke's. It's a rousing story, plenty of action, several connected threads. I *would* recommend reading "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein before you read this, especially to refresh your memory of Mycroft.

The Church of Elvis provides a lot of the fun - but so does Blind Boy Grunt. Even the more serious characters have their moments of fun. Police chief Bigthorn, of Native American ancestry, has a sense of humor, even when he's being almost blown up. We also have some villains we can enjoy - heartless lawyers representing soulless corporations, that sort of thing, that we can unabashedly revile. A hired killer code-named the Golem, complete with an explanation of the original Golem and some scary insight into the assassin's psychology.

The only disappointment in the book is the very end - involving Simon McCoy. I thought this particular bit of explanation to be rather out-of-nowhere and arbitrary. Works as a plot device, but not as a plot or a character, in my opinion. However, it's quite possible to just ignore that part.

If what you know of Allen Steele is his more recent Coyote series, you will find this book to be both similar and different. There's some of the same questions of exactly what constitutes patriotism, and when is it correct to decide that one's patriotism should be devoted to creating a new country.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ahmed Rizk on April 30, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tis is an action/gangster story set in outer space. The setting could well take place in any small or isolated town, not necessarily a space colony. The bernal sphere has been introduced before to SF literature in "Rendevouz with Rama". apart from that, there are no new ideas or concepts. It is a good read though. The author has a talent in description and drawing characters and the events are fast paced. What I mind the most is that the cover illustration got the shape of the supposedly Bernal sphere wrong and really spoiled the way I tried to imagine it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
All of Steele's books are just plain fun and this is no exception. Bizzare of course, but fun. I like his tributes to the greats and his nostaligic treatment of current scifi, "the good old days of Captain Kirk." The Elvis Cult is a riot.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Near Space, but far from the quality of "Orbital Decay" and "Lunar Descent". The colony in the Lagrangian is called "Clarke County", the story is about first moves towards independence of Clarke County from the US and more important from the companies who paid for it. But O'Neill habitat and move for independence are only the backdrop for a standard organized crime story a la Grisham. Mixed in are the Church of Elvis with the "Living Elvis" and his believers (Elvis himself not among them) visiting Clarke County as tourists (tourism being one of the cash cows in Clarke County and thus loved by the companies, but hated for its impact by the settlers), an atomic warhead in Earth orbit taken over by terrorists, and robots as household aids appearing in news clips. And on top, without advancing the plot in any way, Steele throws in a time traveler from the future, and - pulling all the strings for the revolution - the Clarke County AI which has become sentient (revolution off Earth and a sentient computer - come on, this should be Heinlein County!). Perhaps all this is meant as tribute to the three Grand Masters, but it just does not work in this story. Definitely not the best of the Near Space novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There's a killer loose in the L5 habitat in geosynchronous orbit above Earth. Clarke County Sheriff John Bighorn is trying to find who it is while protecting the target. This all goes on against a background of a convention by the Church of Elvis and grumbling about secession.

Bighorn has his own problems, fortold by his sweat lodge vision of Coyote, who indicated a threat from the stars. Coyote is a trickster who lies like a politician, but there's always some truth at the basis of what he says, and this time is no different.

Compared to Robert Heinlein, this story does definitely do the trick although it lacks Heinlein's humor. That may be a good thing for a lot of readers but I was always a sucker for Heinlein's light touch, however grim proceedings got.

But the rest of the style seems to be there...big scope, focus on the people in jeopardy, a great setting, and a lot of action.

Clarke County is an L5 habitat. They were first proposed by Gerard K. O'Neill back in the 1970's or so, gigantic 20-mile-long inhabited rolling tubes, in permanent space orbit leading or following the moon. Living on the interior surface of these tubes would be people in cities and on farms, protected from cosmic rays by an adjacent barrier of lunar slag left over from the construction phase. It was a galvanizing vision providing an alternative to planets with their deep gravity wells, farmers able to look up and across the interior at a city on the opposite surface or a sailboat on a lake.

Science fiction writers cheerfully adopted the idea, offering up tales of future cities, religious communities, animal parks, even scientific preserves for resurrected dinosaurs. The public ate it up.
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