by Dale Brown
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061560903
Date: 22 February 2011 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Did you ever consider a space race in space? Well, read Executive Intent by Dale Brown and you'll find one.
It's kind of one of our modern fears--China advancing out of its borders and controlling the world. In Executive Intent, China does not actually get there, but it's starting. Only this time, space weapons are involved. China has teamed up with Russia to reduce the US dominance of the world. China has also launched an aircraft carrier and is secretly developing sites to launch space weapons in Africa and Asia. The Chinese are able hide their weapons tests very well. For instance, they create a natural gas explosion but launch their weapons at the same time, so the missile goes undetected.
Space travel has become commercial in the US. A US company has developed space-capable aircraft that make routine runs to the orbiting US Armstrong Space Station. Armstrong has great electronic tracking capabilities and can assist ground-based ships and aircraft. The same company has also developed nanotechnology to enhance human capabilities such as eyesight and is testing those.
One new US weapon development that Executive Intent introduces is Thor's Hammer. It's very simple--a block of titanium launched from space. As it reenters the atmosphere, it gets very hot and by momentum alone, produces massive destruction when it hits earth. It has no warhead. It's just a chuck of metal, so it violates no weapons treaties. The ethics of the deployment and use of Thor's Hammer is woven throughout the action of the novel.
At the same time, the US government is debating the use of space weapons. There is dissent between the President and the Vice President about how to continue the US Space Program. The US has developed space garages that are essentially orbiting weapons bunkers. Deployment of the garages is in progress and the President wants to stop it. The Vice President does not, and there is a lot of politicking going around which adds even more to the other political plot of China expanding.
I was a little scared because the novel opens with a glossary and I was afraid that it would be so technical that I wound not enjoy it. I was happy that I was wrong. There are ships and aircraft present, but most readers of this type of novel have some familiarity with those things. The story was great and I was able to follow easily. The dictionary is there if you stumble, but I had no problem understanding the weaponry and technical aspects of the novel, and I don't think the average reader will either.
Executive Intent certainly fits into the SF genre with the advance weaponry, but it also fits well into the mystery genre due to the political bickering that goes on within the US government and between the US, Russia, and China. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I recommend it to both mystery and SF lovers.