Author Rating: D

Abandon In Place (read 3/5/09) AVOID

I abandoned the effort at page 180 of 363, so you can’t say I didn’t give the guy a chance.

This effort by Jerry Oltion apparently started as a short story and then, according to the author, upon encouragement from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, expanded to a novella, then stretched into a novel.

The chances of my reading a novel by Rusch have fallen dramatically.

Oltion does get some things right — the concept is good.

When Neil Armstrong dies, a ghost Saturn V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, then a couple weeks later a second one appears and blasts off. They both disappear after reaching the moon. The guys at NASA decide there’s probably going to be a third and ask Rick Spencer, an astronaut, to jump in before it takes off, ride it to the space shuttle and get out, except he doesn’t. Two people from the shuttle — his girlfriend, also an astronaut, and a Japanese scientist who knows stuff about propulsion — join him for a trip to the moon.

See? It sounds like it would be pretty good, right?

The execution is a disaster.

The characters are poorly drawn and erratic.

Rick, I guess, is supposed to be a mavericky space-cowboy but goes from maudlin to inappropriate anger and back again. His girlfriend, also an astronaut, giggles and cries.

I could ignore that (it’s a pretty common flaw in sci-fi of the ’50s and ’60s [ed: but that’s not what this is, it’s ’90s or ’00s, so I expect better]) but the clumsy and incompetent fleshing out of the premise totally kills this book.

No explanation is given for why Rick Spencer, and his girlfriend and the Japanese woman, suddenly have these magical psychic energy powers. The author asks us to believe too many things that just don’t make sense.

“The next day, he [Rick] learned how to shoot fire from his fingertips.”

How did he learn? He was told to “imagine a line of air molecules between his finger and his target … and then imagine heating them to incandescence.”

Guess what? “It worked like a charm.”


Tor publishes some mighty fine writers but Oltion is not one of them.

Life is too short to read crap like this.