cover image Holdout


Jeffrey Kluger. Dutton, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-18469-1

What goes up refuses to come back down in this exciting contemporary space thriller from journalist Kluger (Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13). Lieutenant Commander Belka “Walli” Beckwith is a mission specialist conducting research aboard the International Space Station when an errant resupply ship collides with the station and forces an evacuation. But Walli politely refuses to leave the damaged station, saying, “I would prefer not to.” Instead, she hopes to use the ISS’s cameras to track the ethnic cleansing of indigenous tribes in the Amazon by a greedy Brazilian president. The political is personal, as Walli’s niece and surrogate-daughter, Sonia, is a student working with a medical relief agency in the danger zone. With an upcoming intervention vote in the U.S. Congress, Walli becomes a rallying point for the progressive opposition to a rancher turned U.S. president who would prefer to leave his Brazilian counterpart free to clear the jungle. Kluger smoothly covers the technical aspects of life on the ISS and neatly contrasts international cooperation in space with conflict back on Earth. Readers who enjoyed Kluger’s depiction of the Apollo 13 rescue effort will appreciate the reciprocity of a rescue of Earth from space. [em]Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary.(Aug.) [/em]