Able One

Ben Bova, Author . Tor $24.99 (398p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2386-6

Hugo-winner Bova (The Green Trap ) combines cutting-edge science and geopolitics in a fast-paced but flimsy near-future technothriller. When a rogue faction of the North Korean army detonates a nuclear missile in space, an electromagnetic shockwave takes out numerous satellites and cripples communications worldwide. Fearing another attack, the U.S. military launches ABL-1, a powerful but untested 747-mounted laser that should be able to destroy a missile in flight. The effort will be a baptism in fire for the skeleton crew, one of whom may be a saboteur. Meanwhile, the president struggles to respond to the crisis without starting a world war. The tense atmosphere, swiftly unfolding plot, and scientific details do little to hide a host of meaningless subplots and shallow characters, resulting in a Clancyesque tale that lacks the power and focus of Bova's better and better-known hard SF. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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