SubOrbital 7

Titan. Jun. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781803363820. pap. $16.95. SF
Shirley’s (Stormland) exciting novel is an immersive near-future military adventure that proves that doing the job doesn’t count for much if you don’t make it home in one piece. The story follows a group of soldiers led by Lt. Art Burkett, U.S. Rangers Airborne, who is sent halfway around the world on an urgent rescue mission to save the life of a key scientist whose mind is filled with important information. Burkett and his team take off in an off-the-books rocket-turned-airplane, which is able to quickly bring the team into action. The mission goes smoothly until the team tries to get home and runs into trouble in space. The beauty of Shirley’s novel comes from its laser-focused attention to military tactics, which helps to sell its squad-level action. Its haunting near-future setting reads like a story that could be happening right now, giving the text a healthy dose of realism.
VERDICT This is a tight military procedural for fans looking for something like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan transported to space, with rockets flying, ruthless Russians scheming, and unvarnished trust in the American way.
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