SECOND STAR by Dana Stabenow

SecondstarThe first in a sci fi trio staring Esther Natasha Svensdotter, better known as Star, who is the head honcho in charge of building the first space habitat, Lagrange Point Five, EllFive.  That place is a big sucker, 6-and-a-half kilometers in diameter and something like 32 kilometers long.  And I think that’s just the main part – there is also a couple of add-ons for farming and some other stuff.  (Hey, I got things on my mind – I can’t remember every little bitty detail. Have a little pity on a lady of a certain age.)

Now what I like about Star is that she is a she, and in fact, a lot of the admin types are female, because — get this — they are lighter in weight, and consume fewer calories to maintain fitness and are less sensitive to radiation.  Neener, neener, neerer, all you joystick jockeys.

The habitat is only a few months away from being commissioned and accepting its first batch of pioneers to colonize the place.

The setting is sort of current, however some of the things in Earth’s history have been rearranged for this setting.  The governments of Terra have consolidated into just 5, but the population has exploded and there’s not much elbow room ‘downstairs’ anymore, Luna is getting a bit crowded, and humanity needs some room to expand.  The Habitat is being constructed with a view to being a prototype and for a way station to further colonization of the more distant planets.  Already there are Russians on Mars, and everyone is eyeballing the other nearer planets and their satellites.  Remember that old saw – buy land, because they’re not making any more of it?  Well, not in your immediate neighborhood, anyway, but if you look in the outer suburbs…….

The space program has sagged, and the previous disasters (Explorer?  Apollo? I forget) have pretty much put a plug on the money hose until…….   a message was intercepted from Betelgeuse of all places!   Well, THAT got everyone all excited and all hot and heavy to get back into space and get exploring, gol dern it!

Our Boss Lady is a clever chick, funny, and large and in charge, being of the very tall variety of woman.     And until they get a new security officer, she is the one in charge of spacing the luddites who manage to stow away on various vessels  in order to sabotage the construction and maybe even kill the folks doing the work.  Spacing means putting the person with the deadly intent in an airlock, and clearing the airlock.  Buh-bye.

And natch, what is a good story without a baddy, right?   This baddy is some bigwig who wants to take over the Habitat.  You know, that old power grab thing.

So we have some great characters, some cool hard sci fi stuff going on, a very precocious 10 year old daughter of the Habitat’s doctor,  and Archy.  And the Librarian.

Archy is a computer.  Also very precocious.  Almost, suspiciously, sentient.  Hmmm.  And the Librarian?  You will have to read the book to learn about the Librarian, and if you are a sci fi aficionado,  after reading the book, you will agree with me that reading the book if for no reason than to get to the part about the Librarian is totally worth it.

The next two books in the series are A Handful of Stars, and Red Planet Run.  (I wonder if they put it in the wash cycle with hot water instead of cold.)

Mz. Stabenow is a very prolific writer and those of you who are mystery fans probably know her for her Kate Shugat series set in Alaska, as well as the Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell series.



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