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Apollo's Outcasts [Kindle Edition]

Allen Steele

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Book Description

Jamey Barlowe has been crippled since childhood, the result of being born on the Moon. He lives his life in a wheelchair, only truly free when he is in the water. But then Jamey's father sends him, along with five other kids, back to the Moon to escape a political coup d'etat that has occurred overnight in the United States. Moreover, one of the other five refugees is more than she appears.

Their destination is the mining colony, Apollo. Jamey will have to learn a whole new way to live, one that entails walking for the first time in his life. It won't be easy and it won't be safe. But Jamey is determined to make it as a member of Lunar Search and Rescue, also known as the Rangers. This job is always risky, but could be even more dangerous if the new U.S. president makes good on her threat to launch a military invasion.

Soon Jamey is front and center in a political and military struggle stretching from the Earth to the Moon.

From the Hardcover edition.

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"Steele adeptly mixes political intrigue, combat, and character development as he ushers Jamey through an action-packed trial by fire. Like the best Heinlein juveniles, the science is realistic and the concepts drawn from modern speculation, and there's even some chaste romance. This is solid, space-faring fun."
-Publishers Weekly
"[S]pectacular settings.... nothing beats learning what it's like to walk around the Moon and how the Earth appears from there.... [T]his is for anyone who's gazed longingly upward."
-Kirkus Reviews
"Steele combines the science fiction of Robert Heinlein with modern technical knowledge and political thriller sensibilities to create a novel that should have wide appeal."
-School Library Journal
"[C]an easily rank with Heinlein's best juveniles. Indeed, it reads like one of them... if it had been updated for modern science and modern sensibilities (unlike Heinlein's young heroes, Steele's recognize the existence of females, and their potential interest).... [A]n excellent introduction to science fiction novels for the young adult reader, and also an excellent introduction to Steele's own, extended (more adult) tales of the near-future... Highly recommended."
"The idea of teenagers on the moon seemed too good to be true as I've read other books about similar topics and they always disappointed, but not Apollo's Outcasts. I'd recommend it for anyone who loves space travel, political stories, or has a love for science fiction in general."
-Night Owl Reviews
"[A] book for young adults about living on the Moon that gets the science right and that includes an engrossing, well-crafted story....The Apollo lunar base is totally believable....The way it is handled in this book ties up all the loose ends of the story yet leaves open the possibility for more adventures set in this future world. I sure hope there are more because I can't wait to get back to Apollo!"
-National Space Society

About the Author

Allen Steele was a journalist before turning to his first love, science fiction. Since then he has published seventeen novels and nearly one hundred short stories. His work has received numerous awards, including three Hugos.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1413 KB
  • Print Length: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (13 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4B2KP6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #750,223 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Giants Steps Are What You Take... 13 Nov. 2012
By Stefan - Published on
Jamey Barlowe was born on the Moon, but moved back to Earth as an infant following his mother's tragic death. Because his fragile bones can't handle Earth's gravity, Jamey needs a wheelchair to get around, but he has learned to live with his disability and lead a normal teenage life. Then, on his sixteenth birthday, Jamey's father wakes him up in the middle of the night and sends him back to the Moon to escape a military coup in the United States.

Jamey arrives in the lunar mining colony Apollo with five other refugees, including his kid sister and a young woman who seems to be more than she appears. At first it's a challenge to start a new life in an unfamiliar environment, but thanks to the lower lunar gravity, Jamey can now walk independently for the first time in his life, so despite everything he flourishes and finds himself taking on new challenges. Meanwhile, tensions on Earth continue to rise, and the lunar colony soon becomes the world's focus as the new U.S. President sets her sights on the Moon's crucial He3 reserves...

Apollo's Outcasts by Allen Steele is a charming Young Adult novel that should go down well with readers on the younger end of the YA scale as well as older science fiction fans in the mood for a nostalgic trip back to their own Golden Age of SF. Anyone who doesn't fall in one of those two categories may end up disappointed because the novel's plot and characterization are so straightforward and basic that it borders on the pedestrian, but for the right reader this book will be a blast.

Jamey is a great YA protagonist: a disabled teenager, woken up in the middle of the night and immediately cast in an unfamiliar situation. He narrates Apollo's Outcasts in the first person, so it's almost impossible not to empathize and, later, to cheer when he finds his bearings and discovers he can actually walk. (In his own words: "I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or join the nearest basketball team.") His enthusiasm is infectious, and his willingness to make the best of a difficult situation and contribute to the greater good as he explores the lunar colony is admirable.

At the same time, there are a few aspects to his character that occasionally grate a bit. It quickly becomes clear that Jamey has more than a touch of Gary Stu in his DNA, for one. However, when it's convenient for the plot, his usually sharp intellect seems to fail, e.g. when it comes to discovering the identity of the mysterious sixth refugee--something almost every character figures out immediately, as will most readers. He also ends up in the obligatory YA love triangle--yep, his best friend likes the girl he likes--while at the same time remaining stubbornly blind to the fact that his future true love is nearby and very much into him.

The supporting cast consists of characters who are, for the most part, either too faceless or too recognizable. Jamey's younger sister goes through an all too predictable transformation as the story progresses, and the same goes for a bully who is introduced early on in the novel. Jamey's best friend is a complete blank aside from making up one side in the aforementioned triangle. A cheerful pilot continues to pop up at improbable moments throughout the story to lend support. The villains are introduced early on and never achieve any depth.

Speaking of one of those villains: the name of the Vice President responsible for the coup in the United States is Lina Shapar. Even if that anagram isn't obvious enough, Allen Steele makes it abundantly clear who he's referring to: a former beauty queen from the more extreme wing of her party, who ran on the presidential ticket with an older, more moderate candidate. Surprisingly, there are many more political references in the novel, including thoughts about globalization versus sovereignty, scarcity of critical resources, and China as a rising superpower. I have absolutely no problem with politics in YA novels, but in Apollo's Outcasts it simply feels out of place, maybe because this novel reads like it was geared towards a much younger audience than say, Cory Doctorow's YA novels, in which the political message feels more natural and integrated.

Still, this is a minor problem compared to the novel's characterization and plotting, which rarely rise above the level of a below-average light SF Hollywood movie. Because of this, it may be surprising to read that Apollo's Outcasts is actually a fun read, as long as you're okay with overlooking some of its problems and just letting yourself getting swept along by the adventure. It may be small-scale and a bit thin and predictable, but at the same time, Allen Steele is a talented storyteller who paces the novel expertly and often makes it very hard to stop reading, even when he takes the occasional detour to lovingly describe the lunar colony setting or explain the science behind the story.

Still, the biggest strength of this novel is its sheer innocence: from Jamey's perspective, Steele writes convincingly about the adventure of going into low orbit and experiencing zero-g like it's something brand new and exciting. Jaded SF fans may roll their eyes at this small-scale stuff, but if it catches you at the right moment, you may end up enjoying it and feeling more than little nostalgic. For a new or young SF reader, Apollo's Outcasts will be a captivating adventure and possibly a great gateway into the genre. Older readers should probably approach it like one of Heinlein's juveniles: sure, it may be easy to poke holes into it and point out its flaws, but if we're being really honest... wasn't reading SF more fun back when we were gobbling these books up as quickly as we could find them?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the Reluctant Reader ... 24 Nov. 2012
By Janice Murphy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
... because Apollo's Outcasts begins with a desperate flight to the safety of a Moon Colony and the action doesn't end until the hero saves his family, the Moon and Earth. Of course he manages to get the girl and do it with realistic and Golden Age SF appropriate adolescent clumsiness. And yes I was concerned when I began reading the make-out scene but yes you will see more explicit scenes on broadcast TV and Steele's prose is more age appropriate than some of Heinlein's juvies.

I'm going to be donating my copy to the local library. If you don't have an adolescent who needs to be lured away from vid-games why not buy a copy for yourself and then donate it to YOUR public library.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Christmas gift for young readers. 24 Nov. 2012
By Mark Graham - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I never miss a new book from Allen Steele. His Coyote books are hands down the best sf series of the new millennium. Granted, we've got well over 900 years for someone to top it, so that may happen--who knows? So, naturally, I was curious about this two-time Hugo award winner's effort into young adult territory.
No surprise--the novel is terrific, as usual. APOLLO'S OUTCASTS has been compared to Heinlein's young adult books. This is pretty high praise, but it is well deserved. Reading OUTCASTS, a tale of teenagers who barely escape capture to become political exiles on the moon, brought back my own youth (a long time ago) when I first became addicted to science fiction by reading SPACE CADET, PODKAYNE OF MARS and others before graduating to STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. My 11-year-old niece will find APOLLO'S OUTCASTS in her Christmas stocking this year, and when my grandchildren are old enough, they will be reading it, too. I am counting on Allen Steele to make them science fiction addicts like me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moon Adventures 30 Mar. 2014
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Apollo's Outcasts (2012) is a standalone SF novel. The USA and other nations establish an International Space Consortium to mine helium-3 from the lunar regolith. The mining operations are based at Apollo, a large habitat built within Ptolemaeus Crater.

In this novel, Jamey Barlowe is the son of Stan and Connie. He is a loonie, conceived on Earth, but taken to the Moon before anyone knew his mother was pregnant. Now he suffers from Lunar Birth Deficiency Syndrome.

Jan Barlowe is Jamey's oldest sister. She is attending college at a local school so she can to tend to Jamey.

Melissa Barlowe is Jamey's next oldest sister. She is called Meemee for good reasons.

In this story, Jamey is awakened before dawn by his father. He is told to get dressed and pack a carryon bag. Jan is waking Melissa.

Melissa refuses to get up. Jan turns on the light, so Melissa puts the pillow over her eyes. Then Jan issues an order that Melissa cannot refuse.

Their father drives the family to Wallops Island. On the way, they hear an announcement that the President is dead. The Vice-President is sworn into that office.

They enter the ISC spaceport on the island and drive to the terminal. They get out of the van and meet three other ISC families. Then their father tells them the new President has him and other ISC employees on her black list. So they are sending their children into orbit.

They start to enter the building, but pause as a limo enters the employee lot. A teenaged girl gets out of the limo. Her escorts have a discussion with the parents and other ISC employees.

The ISC shuttle only has six seats available. The new girl would be the seventh passenger, so someone has to stay behind. Jan volunteers to give up her seat. The children are suited up and loaded on the shuttle.

Jamey has a loonie seat with gel filled balloons to cushion him on each side. His seat is contained within a case the size of a refrigerator. Jamey wonders how long his father has been planning this escape.

This tale takes Jamey and Melissa into space with four other children. Jets are sent to intercept them, but the shuttle outruns them. Once they are in orbit, the Lunar Transfer Vehicle is released for the voyage to the Moon.

Then an anti-satellite missile is launched from another jet to shoot them down. The pilot fires the main engine and maneuvers to avoid the oncoming missile. It explodes and a piece of shrapnel causes a leak in the LTV.

The pilot tells his passengers that they are going to Apollo. Anywhere else would only find them under arrest and send back to the USA. Apollo is an ISC facility and will give them sanctuary.

This story continues a long tradition in SF of voyages to the Moon, starting with Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Invasions of a Moon colony are also a SF tradition (see Robert Heinlein).

Jamey learns that he can stand on his own is the lesser gravity. This volume does not have a sequel as yet, but the author has written many other space adventures.

Highly recommended for Steele fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of space voyages, lunar habitats, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it for what it is - an old fashioned SF juvenile 19 Nov. 2012
By Charles Engelke - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is not a science fiction masterpiece. But it's a fun read and a page turner. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, and I think it would be a fine introduction to science fiction for a tween or teen. That's why I gave it five stars.

This is clearly intended to be in the spirit of Heinlein's juveniles, and it succeeds at that. The main character, Jamey, is sympathetic and interesting. Most other characters are at least two-dimensional. Remember, we're seeing them from a teenager's eyes, who doesn't have the life experience to see much nuance in others.

The exceptions to this are the villains. They're one-dimensionally evil. But that provides the fuel that drives the plot. As with all science fiction, you need to suspend a bit of disbelief.

And yes, the politics clearly parody some of today's players, even though the book is set well after all of them will have passed away. The name of the evil VP who becomes president is an anagram of Sarah Palin.
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