Although Alton Gansky has penned many suspense novels (such as FINDER’S FEE), in ZERO-G he hits his stride with his best page-turner story to date.
The story starts strong, placing the reader in the middle of a tragedy in the making. After surviving the terrifying debacle (which keeps readers glued), Commander Benjamin Tucker, or “Tuck” as he’s known, becomes haunted by memories of his space mission gone wrong. Plagued by nightmares and grounded by NASA, he’s separated from the thing he’s most passionate about. Tuck is angry with his superiors, and most importantly to Gansky’s story, Tuck is bitter about God.
What prompted the tragedy in space lays the groundwork for the rest of the story. Tuck is wooed away from NASA by Ted Roos, a hotshot video game mogul who is pouring large amounts of his cash and others into SpaceVentures, a company that is set to provide private space travel. Gansky creates a nice tension between Tuck and his family, who desperately want to support his dreams but who are still traumatized by his close call on the last space mission. He also shows well how some men and women are captivated by space travel or the idea of space travel, and nothing else satisfies.
Tuck becomes commander of the first tourist space flight, and everything looks rosy. But lurking in the background is the man responsible for the loss of Tuck’s old crew, an Italian father determined to seek revenge, and Lance Campbell, a crewman with a grudge. Nothing is too obvious, and figuring out who is after whom will keep readers interested until the final pages.
The rich and famous soon sign on to be the first space tourists: Theodore Burke, Secretary of State; Ginny Lin, a popular starlet; Daki Abe, a Japanese businessman and multimillionaire; and James Donnelly, a top-notch journalist who is covering it all for the press. Careening through space in command of the Legacy on her first space voyage, Tuck once again must face a tragedy in the making --- and determine if he is willing to sacrifice his own family for the greater good.
Readers who want a clear outline of the plan of salvation will find that Gansky has worked it into the plot in the form of conversations between Tuck and his father, the likable Ben. Some may find these conversations a bit heavy-handed. Regardless, if anything could send a strong Christian into a tailspin of bitterness and indecision about his faith, it’s clear that Tuck’s circumstances would be plenty, so Gansky makes it believable. A few times it goes over the top, as in one scene where Tuck reaches out in the dark to “touch the face of God” (from the moving poem about the Columbia disaster in 1986).
Gansky does a wonderful job showing the depravity and injustice of evil and its effects without resorting to gratuitous violence or a big body count. The ability to do this is tough in faith fiction, and he strikes just the right tone. As well as providing page-turning suspense, Gansky uses his story to examine the problem of suffering and the injustice of tragedy.
If you enjoyed the movie Apollo 13 or just like a good suspense yarn, give ZERO-G a look. It’s guaranteed to keep you up late reading.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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