Orbital Decay by Allen Steele
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to read this book because the description is so relevant to today. Set in 2016, we aren’t stuck with things like stone washed jeans and bulky cell phones that could double as exercise weights. Of course there are a lot of things that haven’t become as advanced as we are currently, but then again, authors don’t own crystal balls. Yet, this is a classic genre feeling book that drew me back to my first love of science-fiction with all its detail and actual science. Back in the 80s this story had to have felt futuristic, now it just feels … prophetic.
Okay, we don’t have beam-jacks, and we’re not expanding into space at the rate humans are in Orbital Decay. But we still have so many aspects of governmental oversight, malfeasance, and denial. We have people who are frustrated with the constant deception who decide… enough! The political climate of the story is strangely familiar, unfortunately.
I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, and in essence, this story is very much a giant flashback. It worked in the style written, though I did have some issues with some of the events being narrated by Sam that seemed more like the author than the character, hence the switching between first and third and characters. POV is a lot less fluid in today’s writing. Readers prefer to know who is speaking, and they can be sticklers to demand that authors don’t hop and spill things the POV character cannot know.
I like the blue collar character focus. There are several characters that pop from the page, which is something I need when I read a dated book like Orbital Decay. I can overlook the dated technology and assumptions, if I’m drawn in enough by their personalities and interactions. All in all, I found this to be a solid read taking me back to my sci-fi reading roots. A definite 3.5 stars, and a recommend if you’re a fan of the genre already!
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