Rocket Science: Conspiracies and adventure in Kansas

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJay Lake Rocket Science reviewRocket Science by Jay Lake

At first glance, Rocket Science might seem like a very short read at under 200 pages, but Jay Lake makes every word count. Set in a post-World War II Kansas, the novel starts off with a mundane premise but as one progresses through the book, Lake slowly adds an additional element of conflict so that by the time you reach the end, Rocket Science is a great novel about conspiracies, betrayal, family, friendship, and adventure.

Lake’s language is simple enough, yet is also reflective of the era he is trying to portray. No lyrical prose here or extravagant descriptions, but what you get is an easy to comprehend narrative. The strength of the book, however, is Lake’s characterization of our protagonist, Vernon. It is through his lens that we experience everything that is going on and while he is far from the perfect human being, this fact makes him quite sympathetic.

I’m not usually a big fan of novels that are American period pieces, but Rocket Science is quite an enjoyable read. There’s no padding here and every chapter has an intriguing moment that keeps you going. If you want a book that’s dark and gritty and realistic, this isn’t it. Rocket Science, I think, is one of those books that is reflective of a certain era and one is quite prepared for how everything gets resolved at the end. If you want a good, enjoyable read full of conspiracies and adventures in Kansas, one would do well to check out Rocket Science.

FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.

Rocket Science — (2005) Publisher: Vernon Dunham’s friend Floyd Bellamy has returned to Augusta, Kansas after serving in World War II, but he hasn’t come back empty-handed: he’s stolen a super-secret aircraft right from under the Germans. Vernon doesn’t think it’s your ordinary run-of-the-mill aircraft. For one thing, it’s been buried under the Arctic ice for hundreds of years. When it actually starts talking to him, he realizes it doesn’t belong in Kansas — or anywhere on Earth. The problem is, a lot of folks know about the ship and are out to get it, including the Nazis, the U.S. Army — and that’s just for starters. Vernon has to figure out how to communicate with the ship and unravel its secrets before everyone catches up with him. If he ends up dead, and the ship falls into the wrong hands, it won’t take a rocket scientist to predict the fate of humanity.

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CHARLES TAN, one of our guest reviewers, is the owner of the blogs Bibliophile Stalker and Comic Quest. He also edits Philippine Speculative Fiction. You can read his fiction in that publication and in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Charles has conducted interviews for The Nebula Awards and The Shirley Jackson Awards, as well as for online magazines such as SF Crowsnest and SFScope. He is a regular contributor to sites like SFF Audio and Comics Village.

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