Friday, January 3, 2014

Kindle Spotlight -- Shackleton Crater

Today we have a novella by Jody Rawley: Shackleton Crater. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Taking place in the present, the story concerns a group of astronauts given a perilous mission. You see, the Chinese are about to establish a base on the moon. This would force the international community to acknowledge the big rock as theirs. Unwilling to let China take the whole moon for themselves, the President orders our protagonists to haul prefab structures there and beat the easterners at their own game. Chosen to lead the mission is Caird, a former professor with some wild ideas. When it comes to actual space travel, he's as green as they come, and his crew of seasoned explorers don't know if they can trust him. 

Their fears are proven to be well-founded when they arrive at the moon and all hell breaks loose. An accident causes part of the crew--along with Caird--to crash in the ominous Shackleton Crater. This place is deep and dark, and things look bleak for our intrepid heroes. Fortunately, they manage to salvage enough of their ship's supplies to survive. They dig a small cave in the crater's wall and seal it up. Then they set fire to the frozen oxygen ('cause it's really cold in there), giving them both heat and air to breathe. This keeps them alive, but they still have to find a way out of the crater, reunite with the rest of the crew, and establish their own base to thwart the Chinese. The odds are against them, so do they even have the slightest hope of succeeding? A huge curve ball towards the end may just make the question moot.

I liked Shackleton Crater. The story is compelling and full of the kind of cool survival space drama (such as Apollo 13) I enjoy. I'm really not sure if all the things the characters in the story manage to do are even possible, but nor do I particularly care. Ultimately, it's a story about hope and working together to survive ridiculous odds, and I think that's something we can all get on board with.

However, there is a double-edged sword to this story. I can tell an impressive amount of research went into it. All kinds of details and technical jargon make their presence felt throughout the narrative. I always like a well-researched story. On the other hand, the multitude of astronaut and NASA lingo may turn off some readers. A healthy knowledge of these things is recommended, though not required. I was able to go along with the story regardless.

In conclusion: Shackleton Crater is a gripping, well-researched tale, and well worth it at 99 cents.

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