Angel Of Europa by Allen Steele (book review).

April 14, 2015 | By | Reply More

Since ‘Angel Of Europa’ by Allen Steele was billed as ‘Deluxe Hardcover Edition’ at $35.00, I was rather taken aback to find that it arrived as a slender paperback. However, this is an Advance Uncorrected Proof (I didn’t find many typos or errors), so I suppose this partially explains it. Even so, at only 90 pages it does not qualify as a novel, more as a novella. It has a nice ‘dust jacket’ illustration by Ron Miller.

AngelOfEuropa

Having said all that, this is a nice little story. The Zeus Explorer, an international expedition to Jupiter’s moons, is exploring Europa, drilling down through the icy crust to find what sort of life, if any, exists in the salty ocean beneath. The story is told from the point of view of Otto Danzig, who has died due to decompression when an outside airlock opens. He is resuscitated and his damaged organs repaired by ‘nanos’.

Meanwhile, three explorers have gone down in a bathyscaphe, but only one comes back, a beautiful and sexual woman, pilot Evangeline Chatelain, whom all the men on board fancy or, rather did so, until she was suspected of deliberately killing the two dead men. She claims that it was an accident and that an extraterrestrial monster below the ice attacked them. Nobody believes this since the only life so far observed has been tiny creatures similar to brine shrimps.

Trained in psychology and social engineering, Danzig acts as ‘arbiter’ whenever there are disagreements or quarrels aboard. So it is his responsibility to attempt to mediate here in order to discover whether Evangeline is telling the truth or has made it up for some reason, such as that she had a moment of panic. Her story does seem incredible. She claims that the submersible, DSV-1, lowered into the drill-hole on a long cable, had been struck repeated blows by a huge marine creature. In order to save her own life, she had been forced to jettison the upper cell, abandoning the lower blister when it was breached and water started to come in. The other two crewmembers were inside. Only one rather poor video image existed, but from this it was impossible to judge the size of the creature; it could have been small but close to the camera.

From then on this becomes basically a detective story, albeit one which could only take place in a SF setting. An added question is how Danzig came to be involved in a decompression accident which nearly killed him, when all safety precautions should have prevented it. Was Evangeline’s story true or if there was indeed a monster down there was she so jealous of the two scientists that, as a mere pilot, she wanted to seize all the glory of this momentous discovery for herself? It seems that the only way Danzig can discover the truth may be to go down in the second, two-person submersible with a possible murderer! There are several interesting and clever twists to this story before we reach its end. A satisfying read.

David A. Hardy

April 2015

(pub: Subterranean Press. 90 page deluxe hardback, 2011. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-412-6)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

David A. Hardy, FBIS, FIAAA is the longest-established living space artist in the West, being first published in 1952. From working almost exclusively in water colours and gouache he has gone on to embrace acrylics, oils, pastels and, since 1991, digital art on a Mac. For more art, including prints of this and other works, visit http://www.astroart.org, where you can find many links, tutorials, books and prints and originals for sale. Dave is Vice President of the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA) and European VP of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), and has an asteroid named after him! His SF novel 'Aurora' is now available in a revised and updated edition on Amazon etc. See a review of this and an interview with Pauline Morgan (November 2012) here: http://sfcrowsnest.info/?s=hardy

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