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High Frontier Fiction

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Joined: 16 Dec 2005
Posts: 203
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject: High Frontier Fiction Reply with quote

"Journey Between Worlds" by Sylvia Engdahl

Published in 2006 by G. B. Putnam's Sons, it weighs in at 228 pages plus afterword.

Melinda Ashley never wanted to go to Mars. But she thought it might be a good chance to get to know her father better when he's sent there on a business trip, something that had never really happened in the years after her mother had died. She never expected to like Mars, so it should be no wonder that she didn't particularly like it when she got there, especially after falling under the bad influence of the snooty biologist Janet, who resents the fact that she has to go to Mars to advance her career. A few impolitic comments on how 'civilized' Mars is assures that Mel is in for some rough sailing.

Especially after her father dies. A tragic mechanical failure in a routine docking destroys the shuttle and cripples the Earth-Mars ship, which she was supposed to be on but is saved by some timely Martian intervention. Orphaned Mel is marooned on Mars for many months, making what seemed a timely return to her hometown overlooking the sea, with the wedding and house with white picket fence seem a frustrated dream.

How will Melinda, daughter of proud pioneers, deal with these pressing issues? How can Janet get her in even more trouble? Will Mel ever return to Earth, and her fiance, and the picket fence, and 2.3 children, and lifelong chattelage under a domineering husband? Or is a better destiny in store for our heroine?

Written in 1970, Ms. Engdahl recently revisited and updated the work, which was re-released in 2006 in a hardcover edition. This is the third juvenile for young ladies that I've reviewed, and it lies squarely between the 1950s sensibilities of "Countdown for Cindy" and the totally 80s "This Place Has No Atmosphere". The feminist movement was blossoming amongst the baby boomers when this story was written, and its influences can be seen if you look. But it's also a bigger story about defining one's individuality in a new frontier, one where new cultures wait to evolve in frontier domes.

For the High Frontier we'll rate in honor of M. Joseph Louis Lagrange and go from L-1 to L-5, with placement at L-5 for really top notch exemplary works. To give you an idea when compared with the Lunar SciFi juvenile works previously reviewed, "Moonwake" would be an L-5. "Countdown for Cindy" is an L-4, and "This Place Has No Atmosphere" and "Earthdark" would be found at L-3.

I'll put "Journey Between Worlds" at L-4.

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Joined: 16 Dec 2005
Posts: 203
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Tom Swift - young inventor: #3 The Space Hotel" by Victor Appleton

Published in 2006 by Aladdin Paperbacks, it weighs in at 156 pages.

Tom Swift is going back into space for the first time again, this time with his kid sister Sandy to the space hotel Apogee, in which Swift Enterprises has made an investment, but unfortunately Dad can't make the trip because of another project, so Tom and Sandy are unaccompanied minors for the voyage. Things get off to a bad start when their car is attacked by a band of eco-luddites, the Road Back, on the way to the spaceport. Not everyone is happy with where technology is taking humanity, and they intend to stop it for the benefit of everyone (who as usual aren't necessarily asking to be benefitted).

The trip up introduces the major players, a spacesick scientist, a billionairesse, a travel reporter, and the bratty son of the billionairesse. Tom and Sandy know the Hotel Manager from way back, and it looks like an easy sojourn. Tom and Sandy marvel at the ongoing freefall (as opposed to the vomit comet flight they took), the impressiveness of the hotel, the beauty of the views, the little steward robots running around everywhere, and the overall joy of being in space.

But since it's Tom Swift, the fun won't last, and soon the billionairesse disappears and everyone is a suspect. Then things go from bad to worse, and Tom finds himself in the module that is his room set adrift in space. Can he escape and rescue everyone?

Fraught with danger, this larger print book is a brisk read. It's written in a very modern style of exposition that sweeps the viewer along through a story light in detail, but adequate for the content. The author does take great pains to be accurate in the space-specific detailing, but s/he does forget from time to time. I'm guessing it's written for the 10-12 age range, maybe from 8-14 years.

I'll put this one at L-3.
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