Red Thunder

Red Thunder

4.5 29
by John Varley
     
 

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Seven suburban misfits are constructing a spaceship out of old tanker cars. The plan is to beat the Chinese to Mars—in under four days at three million miles an hour. It would be history in the making if it didn't sound so insane.  See more details below

Overview

Seven suburban misfits are constructing a spaceship out of old tanker cars. The plan is to beat the Chinese to Mars—in under four days at three million miles an hour. It would be history in the making if it didn't sound so insane.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dedicated to the master of such topical tomorrows, Robert Heinlein."—Science Fiction Weekly

"Superior science fiction."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"The heart-pounding space race is on! [A] riveting SF thriller...with hilarious, well-drawn characters, extraordinary situations presented plausibly, plus exciting action and adventure."—Publishers Weekly

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
John Varley, the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of classics like The Ophiuchi Hotline and the Gaean trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon) has released his first novel in more than five years. Red Thunder is Varley at his very best, mixing complex hard science fiction themes with masterful characterization of risk-taking outsiders so common in Varley stories.

It is the near future, and a manned Chinese spaceship is on its way to Mars. An American ship is also headed to the red planet, but the Chinese have a big head start and in all likelihood will be the first humans to walk on the planet's surface. When four young misfits almost kill a washed-out ex-astronaut lying on a Florida beach in the middle of the night while four-wheeling in their tricked-out truck, a strange friendship blossoms. After the young adults meet the ex-astronaut's semiautistic/genius cousin Jubal (who has discovered a revolutionary new power source), a crazy plan is hatched to build a spaceship out of old tanker cars, fly it to Mars, and beat the Chinese! They call the ship "Red Thunder," and with Jubal's new power source ("Squeeze Drive") and a lot of American gumption, this ill-matched group of dreamers just might be able to do it…

Fast-paced, cerebral, sensual, and filled with Varley's unique wit, Red Thunder is reminiscent of Robert Heinlein's The Number of the Beast -- wicked and wondrous science fiction from a master of the genre. Paul Goat Allen

The Washington Post
Varley's great strength is in his characterizations, but in Red Thunder he also shows a strong sense of place. He's clearly in love with Florida and the many quirky and eccentric people who live there. As a result, Red Thunder is a realistic -- and funny -- novel that happens to be set in the future. The novel is also in a sense an elegy: Sf readers have long hoped to travel in outer space, and Varley implies that this will be possible only if we discover something radically different from anything now known to physicists. But if you are willing to simply fantasize about fleeing your office cubicle and becoming a heroic space explorer, this novel will amiably fulfill your wishes. — Martin Morse Wooster
Publishers Weekly
And the heart-pounding space race is on! When a Chinese spacecraft, Heavenly Harmony, threatens to land on Mars a few days before the U.S. shuttle vehicle Ares Seven, washed-up ex-astronaut Travis Broussard, his brilliant but unconventional cousin, Jubal, and four kids from Florida decide to build their own private spaceship, Red Thunder, and get there first in this riveting SF thriller from Hugo and Nebula award winner Varley. Jubal has invented an amazing new power source, the Squeezer, which provides enough thrust to get them to Mars in a mere three days. While the Chinese and other Americans head to Mars the long way, the team works feverishly to build a spaceworthy craft, because although they all want Americans to land on Mars first, a more pressing reason for their visit to the red planet arises. Jubal has discovered a potentially disastrous design flaw in Ares Seven, which has Travis's ex-wife aboard. With a plausible cover story, a lot of help and a raided trust fund, Red Thunder gets built. Will its creators evade the feds who keep nosing around? Will they launch? Will they beat the Chinese to Mars? Can they save Ares Seven? Do you have to ask? In the end, they put their lives on the line, proving that Everyman can be a hero, too. With hilarious, well-drawn characters, extraordinary situations presented plausibly, plus exciting action and adventure, this book should do thunderously well. (Apr.) Forecast: The Tom Clancy-ish jacket art is misleading, but Varley's name in big type at the top will ensure this reaches his core audience of male adolescents and young men. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780441011629
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/27/2004
Series:
Red Thunder Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
256,006
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Dedicated to the master of such topical tomorrows, Robert Heinlein."—Science Fiction Weekly

"Superior science fiction."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"The heart-pounding space race is on! [A] riveting SF thriller...with hilarious, well-drawn characters, extraordinary situations presented plausibly, plus exciting action and adventure."—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

John Varley is the author of the Gaean Trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon), Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Red Thunder, and Mammoth. He has won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his work.

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Red Thunder 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is a good sign that the "NOOK GODS" are finally getting it right..."RED THUNDER" is the 1st book in the "RED TRILOGY" and up til now it has been absent from the list to order...Now I have hope that "DEMON" the 3rd book of the "GAEAN TRILOGY" also by JOHN VARLEY, may soon become available...Thanx for the Rant...RADAR...06-13-2013...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for a funny quick read. While the science is not believable, the story is well written and the characters are fun to read. The authors writing style is not boring and I found myself really enjoying the lead ins to the next chapter. Overall, I would recommend this book on the fun of the story and the characters presented. But, die-hard science fiction readers who look for believably would be disappointed.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the not too distant future, NASA has invented space technology used by Ares Seven to travel to Mars, but it will land two weeks after the Chinese make the first red planet landing with people aboard. Manny and Dak, two college students, want to become astronauts more than anything else and they get to meet former astronaut Travis Bussard when they almost run over him in their jeep. Travis was drummed out of NASA because he was an alcoholic and he doesn¿t intend to change that condition until four young men and women give him a reason to remain sober. Travis¿s cousin Jubal, an idiot savante, invents a new form of energy that when inserted onto a spaceship, can take the crew to Mars in under a week. Jubal wants America to be the first country to walk on Mars. Manny, his girlfriend Kelly, Dak and his girlfriend Alicia agree with him. Travis thinks they are all crazy but helps them build a ship that will take them to Mars when Jubal informs him that there is a fault in Ares Seven that destroy the ship before it lands. Travis doesn¿t want that to happen because his ex-wife, the custodial parent of his children, is on board the Ares Seven. John Varley has written a first rate science fiction novel starring five unlikely heroes who end up doing the country proud. Jubal, the creator of the space drive, takes pleasure in simple things even though his patents are making him billions of dollars. RED THUNDER would make a great movie because it has plenty of action, romance and suspense. This work will appeal to fans of Robert Heinlein¿s more sophisticated works. Harriet Klausner
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EliseInAZ More than 1 year ago
First of all, I have to admit that I don't read a lot of science fiction any more, but I was in the mood for something different when I went to the store and I knew the name John Varley, so chose this book. I remember John Varley for his haunting short story Press Enter which I read, well, let's just say there were stone knives and bearskins back then. If I had to classify this book, I'd call it a YA because of the characters and plot catalyst. The primary cast of characters are teenagers who get to build a spaceship and go to Mars. But it's more developed than a traditional YA, which is why the comparisons to Heinlein, I suppose. The science that makes this adventure possible is vague, to say the least, but if you buy the premise, the rest of the story is believable. It does, however, suffer from what writers refer to as the "sagging middle" while the building of the space ship goes on. There's not enough tension for my taste and it took an act of will--and faith--to keep going to the climax and the end. While I enjoyed the book overall, I'm not in any hurry to read the sequels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The plot, characters, and writing of this book was top notch. I could not put this book down! Very enjoyable ride.
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Sighed
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