Edward Lerner’s latest book, ‘Energized’, is a post-disaster book. An accident has resulted in the Middle East oil being radioactive contaminated, according to the book’s inside sleeve, and Russia has a bigger say in where other countries’ power resources are procured from. It’s a shame there isn’t more emphasis on this disaster in the opening chapters which are more centralised in establishing the lives of the main characters. There’s NASA engineer Marcus Judson, who helps radio astronomer Valerie Clayburn’s company with a satellite focusing device projecting microwaves down to Earth. Then there’s Dillon Russo, an apparent ecological entrepreneur seeking to find power resources but secretly is part of a group intent on sabotaging them. Russo is having an act of conscience over this but nevertheless is blackmailed to go up to the same satellite that Judson is visiting and finds he can’t back down.
Much of this story is also devoted to preparation for the space flight, especially using the vomit rocket plane, which Lerner admits to experiencing, to prepare for the floating experience. However, the centre of this story is essentially stopping a terrorist action which is film fodder that I could actually see this book becoming at some point.
There are some areas of the book that might get a little technical for the reader and certainly having several characters stuck in the solar radiation protection shelter on the satellite rather than actively doing anything is going to be far more like life than the traditional heroes to the rescue. If anything, I hope NASA/USA/Russia/China/India learns lessons from this book to ensure that there are better fail-safes for any satellites of this nature because it would be all too easy to make a weapon of such a device which is actually a very valid way to collect energy from the sun.
In many respects, the technology isn’t that far removed from today and might even appeal to readers who might not normally give Science Fiction a look in normally, so might be worth considering you buying for your friends who might prefer a different leg up into our genre. Whether Lerner will move further away from SF, only his next book will tell.
(pub: TOR/Forge. 329 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $31.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2849-6)