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The Cassini Code: A Galahad Book by Dom Testa
Cover Artist: Jupiter Images
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Teen Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765360793
Date: 02 November 2010 List Price $8.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

When the tail of Comet Bhaktul entered earth's atmosphere, the parasites hitching a ride fell to the planet causing a virus that killed everyone over eighteen. Dr. Zimmer led an intense effort to send 251 selected teens on board the Galahad space ship so that humanity could survive; their goal was to reach Eos in one year. So far, the teens in space formed a council headed by Triana while defeating a saboteur (see The Comet's Curse) and dealing with the Cassini on Saturn's moon Titan (see The Web of Titan).

Now they enter the Kuiper Belt which consists of space junk that circles the solar system. Things go wrong from the start of entering this sector as the heating system on level six blinks on and off. At a critical moment, the collision warning system stops working for several minutes, which means they cannot navigate around large space junk that could batter the vessel and explode or disable the ship. Merit Simms begins a whispering campaign initially with like minded people about returning to earth. With increasing supporters, he and his dissidents become vocal and confrontational with the Council as they insist on turning back. This divides the crew with Merit supporters wearing armbands to show solidarity. His numbers keep growing dramatically especially with each new incident. Then there is the Cassini which is not through with the Galahad.

Decades ago, science fiction and fantasy greats like Andre Norton wrote a series of works focusing on teens while aiming for the young adult audience although older readers enjoyed the adventures too. The Galahad saga will remind us boomers of tales like Ms. Norton's Beast Master saga; as Dom Testa is three for three and if the trend continues future generations looking back will mention his name with Ms. Norton.

The key to the Galahad series is the human characters on board the ship. They seem genuine as they are unsure yet confident, bold yet frightened, and most important though young know their jobs; for instance the doctor is sixteen but already a seasoned surgeon.

There are several minor splinter groups, but for most there are two major camps those led by the Council who want to continue the current path and those led by Simms who wants to go home. Each side makes a strong case that obtains supporters who lean in their particular direction. Both primary sects are led by a dynamo with Triana leading the surge forward side and Merit the return to base side. The major difference between them besides philosophy is she cares about the crew even those opposed to her while he would just discharge into space the opposition as he has no patience for opponents. Triana is so concerned about the rest she conceals from the crew her doubts because she knows they need a steadfast courageous leader.

Although driven by these dynamic rivals, The Cassini Code is loaded with solar system action as the crew reacts to one crisis after another. Readers will want to know who won the power struggle and whether the next installment on the Galahad is Earth or Eos bound.

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