Friday, April 20, 2012

Return of an Old Friend

Allen Steele; Angel of Europa (Subterranean Press; 2011; ISBN 978-1-59606-412-6; cover by Ron Miller).

Otto Danzig is checking over a spaceship when his ship, Zeus Explorer (see this for what that is based on) is out around the orbit of Mars, en route to Jupiter when the airlock door opens and he is almost sucked out. He wakes up to find that months have passed, the ship is now in Jupiter space. Why was he wakened from hibernation? Well, not to see how he almost got sucked into the big black beyond, but because two members on a diving expedition into Europa's ice-capped global ocean died. Danzig is the ship's arbiter, somebody outside the chain of command that acts to ease difficulties within the crew. The ship's captain has taken him out of medical hibernation to investigate what actually happened in the deeps of Europa.

This is a relatively short work for Steele, a novella rather than a novel (but it is between covers, so I'm counting it as part of the 2012 Year in Books!). I could easily see the events in the story being placed into a larger tale of humanity's first crewed visit to Jupiter and his moons and what they discover there. I'm not sure if this is part of Steele's Rude Astronauts tales (it feels like it could be, and the ship that Steele uses as the basis for the Zeus Explorer was the basis for at least one other ship in the short stories of the series, see Sex and Violence in Outer Space which also features sketches by Steele); it stands well on its own or as part of the series.

While there is no real surprise to the mystery, that might be fixed if this was embedded into a larger tale. A good short work from Steele and a nice break from the Coyote series that he has been working on. about eBooks of the installments of Rude Astronauts that haven't made the transition (including this one)?

Part of the 2012 Year in Books.

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