SATURN RUN by John Sandford and Ctein Reviewed

John Sandford and Ctein
October 6th, 2015
G.P. Putnam

 SATURN RUN by John Sandford and Ctein can best be described as a thriller that takes place in space.  It is obvious the authors strove to make this story realistic. Some may put it in the science fiction genre but that is only because there are real scientific concepts in a plausible fictional thriller story.

Portions of the book have a very detailed explanation of the technology and science used.  For some who are bogged down with too much content, they can skip over those details since they are clustered together. Others will enjoy the particulars of how the spacecrafts and their engines are built.  In the author’s note at the end of the book is a description of the science behind the story.  This includes the authors’ philosophy regarding the science and technology, along with pertinent reference points for those who want to know more, an explanation of the actual science behind the fiction. Another way the authors made the science and technology more understandable is through the character Cassandra Fiorella’s eyes.  She is an on board space journalist that sends back reports to Earth, explaining in layman terms the science and technology.

The plot begins fifty years into the future when a Caltech employee notices an anomaly from a space telescope.  Officials come to an inescapable conclusion; a space ship is headed for Saturn.  A race begins between the US and China to see which country will get to Saturn first to discover the alien technology.  A quickly assembled crew is chosen for the adventure of traveling to that planet and confronting the unknown extraterrestrial.  The conflict arises when the Chinese are not content to allow the Americans to gain the advantage and put themselves at a disadvantage.  This is where the action intensifies as the authors explore the questions:  Should the Earth nations work as a community or work for their own benefit, and should space law take the same rules from Maritime law?

The authors are hoping readers will not know who wrote what scenes and which characters.  Obviously, Ctein wrote the science parts because he is an expert who wrote articles on computer and space technology.  However, Sandford, a photography enthusiast, wrote many of the scenes involving the description of cameras and their abilities.

The characters are a potpourri of personalities and professions.  The main character is Sandy, a super rich, good looking ladies man, a patriot, and a surfer dude.  He is the direct opposite of Crow, the security chief who is unfriendly and tends to look at everything as a threat.  Dr. Rebecca Johansson, who readers will know as Becca, is the one readers will most identify with.  The Captain of the ship is Naomi Fang-Castro, whom the authors refer to by her last name throughout most of the story.  She is very formal, makes it clear she is in a position of command, and believes in absolute discipline.

SATURN RUN is a tale of courage, treachery, and takes readers on a ride through space.  The best parts are the descriptions of how the crew finds their strength and wits against formidable adversaries. An added bonus is the cool cover of the book that is almost in 3-D and seems to be a photographic representation of the technology developed, “the ribbons,” used to help power the spaceship.

Elise Cooper