Whales, solar sail driven space craft and mysterious particles located near Saturn. I really am not sure what the book’s blurb is promising me, but it certainly does not sound run of the mill.
I have read four of David Lee Summers’ novels: two vampire stories, a horror tale set in an observatory and a steam punk western. All were entertaining and slightly unusual. David is not a conventional author. None of your run of the mill fluff. His stories are thoughtful and full of interesting facts that bring life to the topic. The Solar Sea is no different.
This is not a space opera. No blasters, murderous alien fleets and strange supernatural powers. This is a straight forward piece of mostly hard science fiction that feels like it could be real. As David writes about the science behind the various elements of the tale it is hard not to be drawn in. In this he is a lot like Arthur C Clarke.
If I had to classify the atmosphere, I would say that it is one of adventure. Several new and exciting discoveries (or potential discoveries) prompt a trip to Saturn in a space craft of a type that is also revolutionary. Our cast of characters are intelligent and thoughtful. No mere brawn here. While there is some conflict between characters, the greater challenge is the trip across the vastness of the solar system.
The brilliant son of multi-billionaire identifies some strange particles emanating from out Saturn way and decides to build a unique ship to get out there. Meanwhile whales on Earth have changed their song and someone cleverly figures out that it has something to do with the Saturn expedition. Next thing you know they are all taking the trip out there, with an intrusive US government deciding to impose a naval captain on the expedition. Along the way a few mysteries need solving and at least one major space mishap.
I would describe the major theme as the challenges of science. So, for example, how the thirst for knowledge can cause us to recklessly ignore danger. Or the potential for greed and suspicion in undertaking science.
This was a slow burn followed by a massive explosion – so a real firecracker of a story. For the first twenty percent of the story David is putting the world together, establishing characters and explaining the science and building suspense. At about the twenty percent the roller coaster ride begins (yes, I know I am mixing metaphors) and the flight takes off. David is a clear writer with a good sense of pace and I enjoy reading him.
Is David Lee Summers a modern day Jules Verne? Certainly this book has that sense of adventure. I also learnt a lot about the workings of a solar sail powered spaceship. All said and told, I really enjoyed the novel and if you want to read something beyond the typical space opera then this is definitely a book that you should consider.