cover image Ignition


Kevin J. Anderson. Forge, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86270-1

Space shuttle Atlantis, with its team of Russian and American astronauts, is 20 minutes from lift-off when the psychotic Mr. Phillips and his gang of sadistic young terrorists stage a clockwork takeover of NASA's Cape Canaveral shuttle launch center and seize hostages, including a bombastic congressman and beautiful launch director Nicole ""Panther"" Hunter. Phillips, who faked his own suicide after his investments and trading career crashed, announces on TV that he is ""selling"" the shuttle back to the American public for a suitcase full of gems that must be delivered with a rescue helicopter in four hours. In this unabashedly cinematic thriller by longtime collaborators Anderson and Beason (Lifeline), only Colonel Adam ""Iceberg"" Friese, grounded from his role as shuttle commander by a broken foot, can prevent a staggering catastrophe. Iceberg, who at the time of the attack had been hiding in the Florida vegetation playing commando for the sport of it, is a predictably resourceful hero, working his way through a plot that delivers plenty of action and gore. The coauthors, both physicists with firsthand NASA experience make, the space program fecund thriller territory. Although extremely formulaic, this tale sets pulses racing while raising readers' awareness of the many risks faced by our space explorers. Audio rights to Brilliance; foreign rights sold in Britain, Germany, Japan, Spain and Greece; film rights to Universal. (Mar.)