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Accused of grand theft and expelled from the Union Astronautica space fleet, Jules Truffant takes on a job as shuttle pilot for the freighter Pride of Cucamonga in exchange for amnesty, only to find himself taking part in a perilous voyage across the galaxy to plant a probe in the path of a black hole that is making its way through an inhabited star system.
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Allen Steele was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and received his B.A. in Communications from New England College and a Master's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. He is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award in the novella category. He lives with his wife, Linda.From Publishers Weekly:
This grand interstellar adventure exemplifies Hugo-winner Steele's skill with near-future tech and struggle with human interactions. Kicked out of the Western Hemisphere Union Astronautica space fleet, 20-ish Jules Truffaut cleverly stows away on the Robert E. Lee, bound for the Coyote Federation, where he intends to defect. Circumstances force him to accept a mysterious job as shuttle pilot for billionaire Morgan Goldstein, who's plotting to corner trade with the alien hjadd. Steele (Spindrift) makes in-flight technicalities almost tangible, and he equips his hissing, grunting, slithering aliens with convincing motivations. He's less adept at portraying the human crew who accompany Truffaut to a vast space city, where the interstellar coalition called the Talus must decide whether to allow humans to join. Subplots such as Jules's attraction to sexy crew member Rain Thompson and Goldstein's predictable big-boss machinations are tepid, even stereotypical, but a rousing climax rescues the crew and the novel from boredom. (Apr.)
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