On to the Asteroid
by Travis S Taylor and Les Johnson
Cover Artist: Sam Kennedy
Review by Jon Guenther
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781481482677
Date: 29 August 2017 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
[NOTE: This review originally appeared in our November 2016 issue.]
I had concerns On to the Asteroid could be anything more than another "space rock hurtling toward earth" story I've read a hundred times before. I'm pleased to report Mr. Taylor and Mr. Johnson didn't disappoint!
This is a story of characters introduced in Back To The Moon, a realization I made only after I was more than two-thirds through the book. This makes for an interesting point because I didn't even realize it was a "sequel" of sorts, so the good news is you don't really need to read that book to understand this one. In this story, Gary Childers, head of Space Excursions, is approached by the international community to send one of his ships into space commanded by Paul Gesling (also from the first book) to divert an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The unique twist here, however, is this disaster is caused by the inadvertent if not reckless actions of an asteroid mining company. Greedy space magnates aside, there is also a politically-fueled aspect to the plot-line. Someone's trying to ruin the very people and systems attempting to save Earth, and this entity is willing to go the distance, including murder, to achieve those goals.
On to the Asteroid was just plain fun to read! The culmination of these various story elements come together in a rollicking good SF adventure. In this novel we have space walks and critical repairs to advanced propulsion systems; there are communications glitches and the threat of annihilation by a nuclear missile launched as a fail safe by a panicked government. I further enjoyed the many accurate scientific details put in the story, a testament to the backgrounds and experiences of its authors. Things like calculating the asteroid trajectory, the power of magnetic forces on mineral-laden rock, and the real affects of a nuclear blast in space.
My only criticism of the book was that I felt the story behind the primary antagonist attempting to stop our heroes from saving Earth felt a bit contrived. I would have liked to see the story have more depth on that note, and the resolution to that conflict felt a bit thin and rushed as an afterthought. This is a difficult technique in most novels, especially for sub-plots, so I cannot be too harsh in my criticism on this point.
For all the rest, though, I can declare confidently On to the Asteroid was a positive experience, so much that I hope these authors will write another one. This is hard science-fiction adventure at some of its very best, and those who enjoy space travel movies and books will definitely find something to their liking in this one.