Orbital Decay

Allen Steele, Author
Allen Steele, Author Ace Books $7.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-441-49851-2
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Steele's debut is an ambitious science fiction thriller somewhat marred by amateurish technique. The central story is skillfully plotted and written with gusto: narrator Sam Sloane and a group of 21st-century hard hats called ``beamjacks'' foil an Orwellian venture into global wiretapping by the U.S. National Security Agency. The author uses a familiar device effectively by setting his story in the near future, 2016, with the culture of the 1980s serving as a believable past. But his straightforward adventure tale is encumbered by two unconvincing and poorly integrated complications: a clumsy narrative framework consisting of memoirs dictated by Sloane, stranded in space without the likelihood of rescue; and a series of flashbacks recounting a crime of passion committed by Sloane's buddy, who eventually becomes part of the space-station work crew. In addition, the narration alternates confusingly between the first and third person. (Nov.)
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