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The Cassandra Project Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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*Starred Review* Two SF powerhouses team up for this near-future thriller that touches on one of the great conspiracy theories of our time: that NASA is keeping secrets about the Apollo program. When Jerry Culpepper, NASA public-relations director, listens to an audio recording that seems to reveal that NASA put an astronaut on the moon six months before Neil Armstong’s “one small step,” he’s inclined to dismiss it as some sort of joke. Why would NASA keep something like that a secret for 50 years? But, as more evidence appears, Jerry is forced to question everything he believes in: NASA, the space program, even himself. This is an extremely well told tale in which the authors dispense information a bit at a time, in the manner of a police procedural, and Culpepper is a well-designed character, an idealist (but not an idiot) with whom readers will find it easy to empathize. Bucky Blackstone, the larger-than-life billionaire who’s planning his own manned mission to the moon (similarities to certain real-life individuals are surely not coincidental), is colorful and difficult to pin down: Is he a galumphing good guy, unaware of the confusion he’s causing, or is he a devious villain? And the story’s astounding conclusion is wildly imaginative but also completely believable. Readers, be warned to get comfortable before opening the book. You could put it down at some point, perhaps, but why on earth would you want to? --David Pitt
"[Jack McDevitt is] the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke."—Stephen King
"Jack McDevitt is a master of describing otherworldy grandeur."—The Denver Post
"Nobody spins a yarn better than Mike Resnick."—Orson Scott Card
"Resnick is thought-provoking, imaginative...and above all galactically grand."—Los Angeles Times
Top customer reviews
But the writing of these positions are well done and good reading.
One item that I am about sensitive of is the portrayal (to help develop the character of the President in the plot) of the military as warmongering interventionists. This is not - in my experience - typically realistic of how interagency politics works in the capital region and stooping to an unrealistic stereotype is beneath authors of this caliber.
Summary - This is not a slam bam Sci Fi adventure but a well written story that draws in the reader. If you are a fan of Sci Fi adventure stories reader this is probably not an 'A' list book for you (but worth a change of pace read). If you like well developed story telling, you will be enthralled by this book.
It also hit upon one of my absolutely least-favorite parts of science fiction. As a guy who LOVES when sci-fi discusses religion well (I think the futurist vs. ancientist dynamic is fascinating), it is unfortunately an all-too-common cliche to have a priest or preacher in a book who argues against the main character...and argues very poorly. What I mean is not that the arguments are poor--you can definitely have some very good debates between Christians and atheists: go watch say John Lennox, for example. But when the author has their seminary-educated priest in a debate, that priest SHOULD AT LEAST KNOW the basics of a Freshman-level seminary class. Every religious character in this book says things that NO ONE with a basic seminary knowledge would say, and are stumped by questions that anyone with access to Google can see how Christians respond. It is baffling to me that someone who wants to write good sci-fi and spends so much time researching the physics of things wouldn't spend 20 minutes with Google to make their religious characters at least make the same arguments that a Christian teenager fresh from youth camp could make.
Sure, it's just fiction. But fiction suggests and motivates. Consider, for example, that many real-life technologies have been credited to scifi novelists.
It was also somewhat disappointing that no one escaped Earth's gravity well until the last third of the book. I love many of Jack McDevitt's novels. Most take place on remote planets, with aliens, faster than light drive, and a good plot to boot. This was more of a mystery novel than scifi.
Although, I like non-scifi mystery novels too, so it was enjoyable, for a while, but oh so very disappointing at the end.
I read after the fact that this was originally a short story. I think it should have remained that way. I probably would have enjoyed it as a short story because the concept itself is actually rather cool.