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In the near future, the debt-laden U.S. owns a technology that renders it "the world's best-defended Third World country." The only real outer-space planning is in Common Europe, so young American "space cadet" Jerry Reed goes to work in Paris. He falls in love with and marries Soviet career bureaucrat Sonya Gagarin and the story jumps ahead 20 years, blending world events with a focus on their family. Sonya's star has risen with the Euro-Russians' while Jerry has been stymied by pervasive anti-Americanism. Daughter Franja has her father's space fever and enrolls in a Russian space school; son Bob, fiercely curious about an earlier, admired America before it was run by xenophobic "Gringos," enters Berkeley. Ten years later the U.S. is a pariah, Euro-Russia the pet of the civilized world and the Reeds scattered--politics forced Jerry and Sonya's divorce, Franja speaks only to her mother and Bob is trapped in "Festung Amerika." A series of odd, occasionally tragic events brings the family (and the world) together. Despite some tech-talk this is not science fiction: the first two-thirds of this hefty book is chillingly logical, if sometimes very funny, and while the "happy" ending may seem forced, Spinrad (BUG JACK BARRON) gives us a wild, exhilarating ride into the next century.
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Norman Spinrad is the author of over twenty novels, including the acclaimed BUG JACK BARRON. He is a multiple nominee for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for science fiction achievement, an American Book Award Nominee writer, and winner of the Prix Apollo. He has written scripts for Star Trek and produced two feature films. He has also published over 60 short stories collected in half a dozen volumes, and his novels and stories have been published in over a dozen languages. He has been President of Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) three times. He is a tireless campaigner for authors' rights and is the creator of the "model contract" now in use by several writers' organizations. He's been a literary agent, President of World SF, briefly a radio phone show host, has appeared as a vocal artist on three albums, and occasionally performs live. He is a long time literary critic, sometime film critic, perpetual political analyst, and sometime songwriter. He grew up in New York, has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Paris, and travelled widely in Europe and rather less so in Latin America, Asia, and Oceania.From Kirkus Reviews:
A thoughtful, moving story of politics and space flight in the early part of the 21st century. Jerry Reed grew up on memories of the moon landing, determined to join the effort to make humanity a spacefaring species. But by the time he finishes school, the American space program has stagnated. The US has grown more repressive and militaristic, while Europe, united in the Common Market, and progressive, post-Gorbachev Russia have become vital powers and models of social freedom. When Jerry gets a covert offer to work in the very active European Space Agency, he chooses his dream over loyalty and defects to Paris. There, he meets and marries Sonya Gagarin, a young Russian businesswoman, and the rest of this long novel follows Jerry's oft-thwarted pursuit of space; Sonya's fitful rise in the Russian bureaucracy; and the disparate journeys of their two children--Robert to America to try to revive its dormant spirit, and Franja to the expansive Soviet Union. Spinrad (Agent of Chaos, 1988, etc.) provides a convincing vision of one possible future, wisely allowing the larger political and social changes to play out around the central story of Reed and his family's smaller-scale struggles. An affecting novel about living for a dream, and living up to its demands, not settling for pragmatic compromises. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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