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The Sam Gunn Omnibus by Ben Bova

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Buy The Sam Gunn Omnibus in the USA - or Buy The Sam Gunn Omnibus in the UK

author pic

pub: TOR/Forge. 704 page hardback. Price: $29.95 (US), $36.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-765-31617-2.

check out website: www.tor-forge.com and www.benbova.net

Sam Gunn is a freewheeling space entrepreneur, a little stubby loud-mouthed guy with short wiry red hair, a wise ass, a cheating, conniving, womanizing rogue, who was kicked out of NASA as an astronaut.

Sam Gunn is a champion of the small guy, always fighting for justice, always battling with the big boys of powerful interplanetary corporations, like Rockwell...sorry, Rockledge and Yamagata, and usually winning. For a while, he has made billions and then lost them. Despite his short stature, moon face, small shifty eyes which sometimes look blue and sometimes green and gap-toothed grin, women apparently find him irresistible.



An unlikely hero for a whole series of short stories that date back from 1983 to the present day you may think and you'd be right, but it works. Ben Bova has over the years woven an alternative (alternate, US) universe. One which should have come into being by now but didn't, but which, just perhaps, one day might.

It's a universe in which we have space stations and even space hotels. Where there are extensive bases on the Moon and humans on Mars. Where there are asteroid-miners and habitats everywhere from the Earth/Moon L-5 points to the moons of Jupiter, Saturn and expeditions out to Pluto and beyond. It's the same universe in which he set his epic and very readable 'The Grand Tour' series of novels: 'Mercury', 'Venus', 'The Silent War' and all the rest. Rather oddly, but because these stories span such a long period, we get strange anomalies such as, for instance, the fact that space stations Freedom and Alpha exist in parallel, whereas in fact they are actually earlier incarnations of what is now the International Space Station or ISS.

To link all of these stories, Ben Bova has introduced the slim, elfin Jane Avril Inconnu, who (coincidentally?) also has red hair and green eyes and likes to be known as Jade. She started life as a foundling at the old original Moonbase, later to grow into the lunar city of Selene. Born with a congenital bone defect, Jade is bound forever to live in space or on the Moon, as her bones would snap in Earth's gravity. She becomes a truck driver and over the years hears many stories abouved with Sam during his lifetime, his story unfolds, not always in chronological fashion. We learn how he sets up the first honeymoon hotel in orbit, ruined by the fact that the newlyweds inevitably spend the first few days throwing up, despite there being a cure for space-sickness which Rockledge vindictively withhold from Sam.

There are 50 stories of various lengths, so I will not attempt to list them all but they include his amorous exploits and how he evades marriage numerous times (especially to Senator Jill Meyers, who continues to pursue him to the end). His encounter with the Porno Twins, who supply virtual sex to asteroid miners; of his (alleged) fall into a black hole. His meeting with aliens out in the Kuiper Belt and his involvement with a matter transmitter or is it duplicator? And so on.

This is all great fun and while not holding any great philosophical message, except that we really should be doing a lot more in space because there

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