The Outback Stars

Sandra McDonald, Author
Sandra McDonald, Author . Tor $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-765-31643-1
Reviewed on: 02/26/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007

Former naval officer McDonald makes an auspicious debut with a military SF novel that through her heroine proves the maxim "amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics." Lt. Jodenny Scott, who's suffering from survivor's guilt after the destruction of her spaceship in an unexplained accident, pulls some strings to get a berth on a new ship, the Aral Sea , which turns out to have a dysfunctional chain of command. Inventory discrepancies, missing robots and officers who either disappear or experience unusual accidents suggest that all is not well. Meanwhile, a troubled petty officer begins to experience visions of the aliens who created the system humans are using for interstellar exploration and commerce. The author captures the flavor of day-to-day life in a military organization and neatly ties the alien mystery with other plot threads at the end, though some of the romantic elements are a bit out of place and the mystery angle may remind cartoon fans of a Scooby-Doo episode. (Apr.)

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