June 2005


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Book Review: Anywhere But Here – Jerry Oltion

Here’s an interesting concept: what if someone invented a Hyperdrive? What if they put the plans out on the internet?

What if you could build one yourself for a few hundred dollars out of commonly available parts, get control software off the ‘net, and turn your pickup into a space-faring camper?

In Jerry Oltion’s Anywhere But Here, lead characters Trent and Donna Stinson do just that, and take off for a little vacation around the galaxy.

Now, the Stinsons have ample reason for wanting to take this little jaunt. We come into their story some time after the invention of the Hyperdrive, and things aren’t going so well in their small Colorado town. The American government and economy are in the shitter, the Stinsons are both out of work, and things are just generally lousy. Those with the brains and wherewithal have been building personal spacecraft and leaving the country at the least, if not the planet. Off-world colonies are recruiting, and the U.S. has banned personal ownership of hyperdrives, going so far as to shoot down anyone attempting a landing over U.S. soil.

For the second time this year, I have read a really good Sci-Fi novel packed with political dissent. The first one was a cop-out in that the main characters pulled up and left. Here, the characters eventually come home to fight for what they believe in – but only after their government tries to kill them three times.

Cowboys are apparently a stubborn sort.

While being well-written and a fun read, Oltion takes a little artistic license with science in a few places other than the hyperdrive. While having a decent grasp on orbital mechanics, I don’t really think he understands the concept of air pressure very well, unless I have entirely misjudged the difference in volume between a big off-ride tire and the cab of a pickup. Or how quickly heat bleeds off in space.

Still, it’s a damn good book that I had a hard time putting down. Go see for yourself.

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