- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Hardcover: 311 pages
- Publisher: Pyr (November 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616146869
- ISBN-13: 978-1616146863
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Apollo's Outcasts Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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"Steele adeptly mixes political intrigue, combat, and character development as he ushers Jamey through an action-packed trial by fire. Like the best Heinlein juveniles, the science is realistic and the concepts drawn from modern speculation, and there's even some chaste romance. This is solid, space-faring fun."
"[S]pectacular settings.... nothing beats learning what it's like to walk around the Moon and how the Earth appears from there.... [T]his is for anyone who's gazed longingly upward."
"Steele combines the science fiction of Robert Heinlein with modern technical knowledge and political thriller sensibilities to create a novel that should have wide appeal."
-School Library Journal
"[C]an easily rank with Heinlein's best juveniles. Indeed, it reads like one of them… if it had been updated for modern science and modern sensibilities (unlike Heinlein's young heroes, Steele's recognize the existence of females, and their potential interest)…. [A]n excellent introduction to science fiction novels for the young adult reader, and also an excellent introduction to Steele's own, extended (more adult) tales of the near-future… Highly recommended."
"The idea of teenagers on the moon seemed too good to be true as I've read other books about similar topics and they always disappointed, but not Apollo's Outcasts. I'd recommend it for anyone who loves space travel, political stories, or has a love for science fiction in general."
-Night Owl Reviews
"[A] book for young adults about living on the Moon that gets the science right and that includes an engrossing, well-crafted story....The Apollo lunar base is totally believable....The way it is handled in this book ties up all the loose ends of the story yet leaves open the possibility for more adventures set in this future world. I sure hope there are more because I can't wait to get back to Apollo!"
-National Space Society
"[A] charming Young Adult novel that should go down well with readers on the younger end of the YA scale as well as older science fiction fans in the mood for a nostalgic trip back to their own Golden Age of SF."
"Steele writes nice sci-fi action and intrigue.... The book is really great if you're just in the mood for some not-super-hard sci-fi, something there's just not enough of in YA these days."
-Forever Young Adult
About the Author
Allen M. Steele was a journalist before turning to his first love, science fiction. Since then he has published seventeen previous novels and nearly a hundred short stories. His work has received numerous awards, including three Hugos, and has been translated worldwide. A lifelong space enthusiast, he has testified before Congress in hearings regarding space exploration, flown the NASA space shuttle simulator, and serves as an advisor for the Space Frontier Foundation. Steele lives in Massachusetts with his wife and dogs. Visit him online at www.allensteele.com and www.facebook.com/Allensteelesfwriter.
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When I was a kid, I read every Heinlein juvenile SF novel I could get my hands on at the library. A librarian took me over to a shelf filled with Heinlein and Andre Norton, and I lived quite happily on those books for all that summer, and summers afterward. My first Heinlein novel was The Rolling Stones.
But I digress. Steele emulates Heinlein's plot devices in this novel: 1) young hero - check, 2) thrown into action almost immediately in an adventure that takes him out of this world - check, and 3) there's a boatload of political overtures that's definitely slanted. If you want to see that last quickly, examine the villain's name. Lina Shapar is an anagram of Sarah Palin. I don't think Palin would ever turn out to be the villain Shapar is in the book, but the point is clear.
Jamey Barlowe is an immensely likeable character. Because he was born on the Moon, his bones are too weak to support him on Earth. He's a cripple, only at home in the water. Instead of being depressed and lost, Jamey is a vibrant individual. Only a smidgen of his life on Earth is revealed in these pages, but it doesn't take much to figure out the parts that aren't there and what it's been like for him.
When the President dies and the Vice President assumes office while accusing others of murder, Jamey gets shipped to the Moon with other kids. The journey to the Moon, like the rest of the book, has a lot of scientific reality in it. Steele knows his stuff as a scientist, and he knows how to give just enough details to the readers without stopping his narrative dead in its tracks. The science underscores the threat and the majesty of Moon living.
Enough real life is wrapped into the adventure that the story "feels" real. The lunar world is easily imagined and filled with wonder and potential hazards. While dealing with the transition to the Moon, getting his legs under him for the first time, Jamey ends up becoming a major player in the political arena even though he considers himself just average.
That feeling of normality about the characters is a staple in Heinlein's juvenile science fiction novels, but the truth of the matter is that they're all exceptional kids. Jamey is too in the end, and it's a lot of fun watching him discover that for himself in this book. He goes from broom pusher on the Moon to being one of the Rangers, an elite security team formed to protect the colonies' interests.
I've got a 15 year old at home and I have often wished I could give him that sense of wonder I had when I was a little younger than him and discovered Heinlein's books. But I can't. His world is already too close to all the science that Heinlein reveals in his stories. The effect just isn't the same. However, Apollo's Outcasts hits all the same buttons with a fresh perspective that I'm sure he will enjoy. The book is a great starting point for reluctant young males readers.
This isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Turning sixteen should be a special, memorable time for any teenager. It should be unforgettable. And for Jamey Barlowe, it was. In the early hours of the morning of his sixteenth year Jamey and his two older sisters are unceremoniously awoken by their father and rushed out of their home under cover of darkness. In the midst of the chaos and confusion the children are able to discover that the President of the United States is dead, an incident that is being reported as an assassination and the Vice President, Lina Shapar, is calling for the detainment of a group of American citizens that she believes may have a part to play in the President’s death, a group that includes Jamey Barlowe’s father.
Jamey Barlowe was born on the moon. As a result he suffers from a condition that has left him crippled for the majority of his life. If Jamey ever dreamed of returning to the place of his birth it was not like this. But for Jamey and the five other young people leaving with him, this isn’t a time for dreaming, it is a time for cold hard reality. Their destination is Apollo, a mining colony on the Moon, and although they are being sent their for their own protection they will soon discover that safety is all a matter of perspective and the Moon holds harsh challenges for each and every one of them.
Allen Steele’s young adult novel is being hailed as a successor to the great Robert A. Heinlein and if Steele did not pen this as a loving homage to Mr. Heinlein’s juvenile fiction then the only plausible explanation is that Steele is Heinlein reincarnated. From start to finish Apollo’s Outcasts reverberates with the heartbeat of Heinlein’s best and creates a contemporary sense of wonder that will have you daydreaming all over again about a future that includes human habitation on the Moon.
Robert A. Heinlein’s juvenile novels stand the test of time because they were written for young readers in a mature voice that held high expectations for the reader. They presented a fantastical future that did not seem all that fantastic because the sense of wonder they created was grounded in plausible scientific speculation. Those novels did not shy away from their attempts to educate young readers in a way that encouraged them to pursue an education that would allow for them to be an integral part of an amazing future that included a presence amongst the celestial bodies in our solar system. Allen Steele captures that same spirit in admirable fashion with Apollo’s Outcasts.
I won’t be coy with you, dear readers, I was smitten with this book from the start and that feeling of attachment grew at a steady pace all the way through to its final pages. Apollo’s Outcasts is lovingly crafted and it speaks to its intended audience with the dignity and respect that today’s young reader has come to expect from good fiction. At the close of the novel Steele acknowledges the many sources of inspiration for his creation of a mining colony on the moon that feels so plausible that adults who grew up gazing at the heavens with longing and anticipation will feel a genuine ache that this is not our present reality.
Apollo’s Outcasts follows Jamey Barlowe and a group of young people as they travel to the moon, learn to acclimate to an environment unlike anything they are used to, and discover that the Moon is a place where hard work and a community spirit are necessary for survival. It is also a novel that presents a very scary, equally plausible, political environment of social unrest and government abuse of power. The combination of these two major plot threads creates a tension that keeps the novel exciting while at the same time avoiding the cliche of non-stop action that sometimes taints the entertainment options offered today.
It can be argued that good science fiction contains good science and Allen Steele delivers on this account. By the same token I will argue that good science fiction contains good characterization and Steele populates Apollo’s Outcasts with a strong, engaging cast. He takes some risks, including a main character who is crippled and a side character who is mentally challenged, and he does not shy away from the fact that life involves tragedy as well as triumph. I certainly felt the full range of emotion while reading this novel and came out of the experience with a deep respect for Allen Steele’s talent as a storyteller and a warm glow from the knowledge that this style of science fiction can be made relevant for today’s audience. I have a list of adults and children a mile long that I would love to gift this book to. I can only hope that the book creates some of that same sense of wonder that Heinlein’s juvenile novels did in their era. Time will tell, but I cannot help crossing my fingers in hopes that this novel will be a success and will spawn similar efforts from Steele and others.
Effective young adult authors know their audience and walk that fine line between underestimating their audience and writing a novel for adults masquerading as a book for kids. Apollo’s Outcasts is a great example of doing it the right way. Steele packs a lot of information and adventure into 300 pages while practicing the kind of economy of words that will keep younger readers engaged. At the same time this is a book that I think adults will enjoy. I did, very much.
Apollo’s Outcasts is a winner. Solid storytelling, plausible scientific speculation, and emotionally satisfying characterization combine here for a 5 star rating. Buy it. Read it to your kids or read it to yourself. You will not be disappointed.