Book Review – Saturn Run – John Sandford and Ctein

saturnrun

Facts:

  •    Book: Saturn Run
  •    Authors: John Sandford and Ctein
  •    Genre: Science Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 2015
  •    Read 486-page hardcover edition in December 2015.

Book Description:

When Earth picks up evidence of a large spacecraft coming into the solar system and nestling into orbit around Saturn, there is a mad scramble by both America and China to send out separate space missions to see just who is out there, and what risks, or opportunities, might lie in store for their countries, and humanity. We follow the two crews as they work to launch their separate missions, and then head out to Saturn, to investigate this potentially risky, potentially rewarding, situation.

Book Review:

This was an engaging and enjoyable new stand alone novel from John Sandford, who has partnered with photographer and scientist Ctein to bring some strong hard science fiction to the reader. The authors do a great job though of ensuring the science is not overdone and is fairly approachable for most readers.

Although at times it would have been nice to have a little bit more character development in the novel, overall the authors succeed in this front as well. We learn about the personal lives and interactions of several people on the American space vessel, and later the Chinese ship as well.  By extension, what we learn often tells us about the world these people inhabit roughly 50 years from now as well, which is interesting.

The authors do a great job of building in space action, character drama, and international intrigue and politics into a story that increases in suspense over the course of the novel. Interestingly enough, the novel keeps more a focus on the human characters and the international politics on earth as the central focus of the story, rather than the possible aliens on Saturn.  This may be a detracting factor for some readers, but the authors still succeed in delivering a fully developed science fiction novel with action, drama, and suspense.

A couple of small details did frustrate the reader. One, there were several major items in the story that were referenced, but never fully explained to the reader’s satisfaction.  Given the novel is quite large, coming in at just under 500 pages, it seemed unfortunate to have loose threads at the conclusion, or plot points raised earlier in the book and never explored fully later in the story.  Furthermore, the novel’s depiction of the American versus Chinese situation, well exciting and interesting, seemed a little overly simplified at times.  We definitely had this novel told from an American perspective, but it sometimes felt a little bit too Americanized or patriotic in tone.  That being said, if it was being told from the perspective of the American crew, maybe that point makes sense.

Overall, these concerns are minor, and as a whole, this is a fun, suspenseful, exciting science fiction novel, with the write balance of hard science fiction and plot and character development as well.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.

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