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Utter garbage - characters out of the 1920's & 1960's
on 12 January 2011
The 'hard science' of a trip to Halley's Comet reads quite well (although how the 'fast trip' crew manage to 'loose' 1/3rd of their 'slow boat' support team is beyond belief - maybe they forgot to install any sort of radio beacon on the slow boats - or perhaps they have no radar on their own craft). It's not too obvious how long everyone has been awake for (they seem to have traveled for some years in frozen sleep) however on arrival at the Comet it's obvious that the crews mental processes have become seriously inhibited, especially when we learn they have activated potentially lethal kit before testing vital safety devices (which, of course, are some sort of 'throw-back' design that can 'fail' and fry the operator 'just like that'). However what really lets it down are the attitudes expressed by some of the characters. We have the classic 1920's Communist (spouting 'us the workers' and 'them the aristocrats' slogans whilst trying to 'recruit' 'the workers' for an obvious 'revolution' against 'the authorities'), the 1960's 'anti-establishment' figure who wants to 'get back to nature' (obviously this is a form of insanity, given how far they are from Earth) and the less said about the Religious Fanatic / Racial Bigot and (of course) the Wannabee Dictator the better .. this unbelievably explosive mix of moronic 'death waiting to happen' has been permitted to join a serious scientific mission into space !
Within a few chapters we learn of 'green goo' dripping out of the air conditioning .. and NO ONE turns a hair - plainly the entire crew is suffering from some sort of hazard blindness. When one of the team 'comes down with a cold' and again everyone takes this in their stride, including the medical 'expert', I conclude they are all in the process of loosing their mental faculties. Of course, when the Captain dies of his 'cold' and the 'wannabee Dictator' makes a bid for power, everyone focuses on the 'law of succession' and the ensuing power-struggle, with only a token attempt being made to contain and isolate the (by now obviously lethal) virus. By this stage I have started to have serious doubts about the mental age of the entire crew, squabbling like children as their habitat is falling apart around them and the plague starts to take hold. The final straw is when 'worms' start to burrow through the skin of the spacecraft = and whilst this is obviously some sort of 'kamikaze' comet based life-form (burrowing into the space craft no doubt being as terminal to them as humans throwing themselves unprotected onto the surface into Venus) again no-one seems at all surprised or worried. With the story starting to read like something from the 1930's (I'm starting to wonder when 'Flash Gorden' will make his appearance and save the day), I am unable to face any more of this abject nonsense and throw the book into the recycle bin ...