If you’re old enough to remember the moon landing in 1969, you may recall reports that the astronauts saw strange flashing lights as they approached Luna. In fact, other astronauts who followed Apollo 11‘s Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins have reported similar experiences. Naturally, NASA as well as independent scientists have a ready explanation for the phenomenon. But what if they’re wrong? What if those lights actually represent something other than cosmic rays interacting with the astronauts’s optical nerves? And what if a private space company should stumble into evidence of a decades-long government coverup about those lights? That’s the premise on which K. Patrick Donoghue’s novel, Skywave, is based. And it makes for one hell of a good story!
Skywave (Rorschach Explorer #1) by K. Patrick Donoghue (2018) 326 pages ★★★★★
A private space company in conflict with NASA, the Pentagon, and the White House
Skywave, the first of two books to date in Donoghue’s Rorschach Explorer series, follows the interaction of a private space exploration company with NASA, the Pentagon, and the White House as the company nears the launch of its uniquely innovative spaceship. Seventy-eight-year-old billionaire Augustus Arturo Amato has devoted $25 billion of his immense fortune to fund the development of the Rorschach Explorer, and he has recruited some of the nation’s most brilliant space scientists for the effort. But shortly after a kooky Nepalese immigrant — an amateur astronomer who is an accountant, of all things — connects with Dr. Kiera Walsh at the company, Amato’s plans begin to shift.
Strange radio signals from Jupiter threaten a decades-long government coverup
The accountant, Ajay Joshi, has been tracking radio signals from Jupiter’s second-largest moon, Callisto, and he’s convinced aliens are sending them. Kiera is unconvinced. But intensive research does persuade her that the signals are purposeful and must in some way reflect intelligence. When she and her boss, Dr. Dante Fulton, take their findings to Amato, he regards Ajay’s discovery even more seriously than they do. And the action he sets in motion puts his company in conflict with NASA, the Pentagon, and the White House and threatens to uncover a decades-long coverup of immense proportions. The result is a tense race against time as Amato sends a probe to investigate the source of those radio signals on Callisto.
A hard science fiction novel that’s as suspenseful as any thriller
It takes a lot to divert me from the schedule I set for myself. But reading the final chapters of Skywave kept me glued to my armchair well into the evening as I raced to learn how the story turned out. This novel is a rare example of hard science fiction that’s heavy on the science but is as tense and suspenseful as any thriller.
For further reading
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- The five best First Contact novels
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- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
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