When authors switch genres, it can be a risky move, both for the writer and the readers. John Sandford is a very well known thriller writer, particular for his numerous Prey novels, as well as other thrillers. But one thing Sandford has clearly proven to his readers: he can spin a good yarn.
In Saturn Run, along with some help from Ctein, Sandford has created an epic work of science fiction that is gripping with every turn of the page, filled with scientific details that are well researched, and an original science fiction plot that has elements that have been done time and time again in the genre, and yet feature a story completely new, fascinating and compelling.
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern who is pretty much where he is because of money and his family notices something unusual on the monitor attached to a space telescope: something is approaching Saturn and it’s decelerating. Thus begins the first part of the novel, as a bunch of important people at various levels of the government get together and decide what the hell they’re going to do about this historic information. Also are they going to tell the rest of the world or keep it a secret? Which begs the question: who else saw what they saw and what sort of head start do they have?
Then the race is on to get a crew together and get them to Saturn as quick as possible to find what out what’s going on. China is close behind with their own mission in the works. This is where Sandford’s skill as a thriller writer comes into play as the reader gets page-by-page addictive action with the two countries putting their missions together, launching their vessels, and racing to the finish line.
The final part of Saturn Run is just as enthralling as the rest of the book, as the reader learns what is going on at distant Saturn and what the fall out of it all is going to be. Perhaps having a mystery writer tackling a science fiction book brings a whole new set of ideas and tools to the genre, because there is nothing predictable or conveniently-plotted and easily solvable in Saturn Run, making the reader thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
Originally written on January 17, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.
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