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The Cassini Code (A Galahad Book book 3) by Dom Testa

01/04/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Cassini Code (A Galahad Book book 3) in the USA - or Buy The Cassini Code (A Galahad Book book 3) in the UK

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pub: TOR/Starscape. 283 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $ 8.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-6079-3.

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The starship Galahad is manoeuvring through the Kuiper Belt and there is dissent on-board as a small growing group led by Merit Simms want to return to Earth. Their logic being that the alien Cassini might have turned their attention to Earth and cured them. Then again, as council leader Triana Martell points out, they might not have as well and that they should complete their mission and colonise another planet. Merit is a charismatic alternative leader also pointing out that they’ve been lucky to survive two disasters so far and might not survive any more. This isn’t helped as they are moving through the thickest part of the Kuiper Belt. Alexa Ross, one of the crew, points out that any slingshots out of the solar system will always hit the most densest part of the Belt, suggesting that there is some alien intervention. Key to that has to be the Cassini and it is up to Bon Hartsfield to use the communication device and after the last disastrous time in the last book, is understandably reluctant.

Things aren’t helped with intermittent faults with the heating system that is baffling engineer Gap Lee. A first medical emergency appendicitis happens and ends up being Alexa, operated on by Lita Marques, and left in a coma. Triana, meanwhile, is determined not to go down to Merit’s level but needs to show his opinion is wrong.

Have I said enough to rouse interest in this youth fiction novel without giving away too many spoilers?

The threads of this story really cover a developing mutiny as much as the normal running of the starship. Some elements, like the Cassini, do verge on deus ex machina but are not overused and downplayed so keeping the story within the realms of Science Fiction than Science Fantasy. I would have thought that the size of the Galahad and its proportionately large deflector field would have moved much of the smaller debris in the Kuiper Belt and probably too big and moving too fast for as much manoeuvring as described. Every slight position change would have reduced its speed slightly let alone stay in the relative position of its destination. Let’s hope Roc, the Galahad’s near Artificial Intelligence computer, knows what it’s doing in that regard.

The teen-age characters themselves are engaging even though with the third book they are beginning to sound alike, although being together for a year or so before the flight would have that effect. Author Dom Testa gives a lot of thought to leadership skills here and I’m amazed that there aren’t more neuroses amongst these adolescences then there are. Luckily, they don’t come over as being precocious and we’re not bogged down having to remember who all of them are. There’s plenty enough going to look forward to the fourth book and where it is leading. If you’re intent on getting your sprogs interested in Science Fiction, then this book series might be the way to go.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 79 votes in the sci-fi charts

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