The Getaway Special

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Overview

In the tradition of Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, Jerry Oltion, a rising star of science fiction and a Nebula Award-winning author, returns with a novel of intergalactic travel, a mad scientist, and otherworldly allies.

Allen Meisner is a member of INSANE, the International Network of Scientists Against Nuclear Extermination. A card-carrying mad scientist, he develops a hyperdrive engine capable of taking anyone to the stars for just a few dollars. But after a demonstration ...

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2003 Trade paperback 2003. Corr. 2nd Printing ed. lt shelf wear...Book Is New! Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 400 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

In the tradition of Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, Jerry Oltion, a rising star of science fiction and a Nebula Award-winning author, returns with a novel of intergalactic travel, a mad scientist, and otherworldly allies.

Allen Meisner is a member of INSANE, the International Network of Scientists Against Nuclear Extermination. A card-carrying mad scientist, he develops a hyperdrive engine capable of taking anyone to the stars for just a few dollars. But after a demonstration aboard a space ship goes awry, Allen learns that there's no such thing as a free ride.

Allen's ideas do not have quite the effect he desires. While the ability to travel great distances excites some, it terrifies others. Earth is in chaos as governments prepare for war to control this unleashed power. With everyone waiting for the bomb-now propelled by hyperdrive-to fall, Allen and his shuttle pilot, Judy Gallagher, look for a way to save humanity.

With electronic parts from Radio Shack and a plastic septic tank from a lumberyard, they build their own spacecraft and go in search of habitable planets. Armed with new allies, an intelligent butterfly, and a temperamental tree, they return to Earth for a final showdown between fear and freedom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This follow-up to Oltion's Abandon in Place (2000) borrows the character of self-proclaimed mad scientist Allen Meisner to initiate an enjoyable tale of interstellar exploration. What makes Allen "mad" is humanity's failure to avoid the threat of nuclear extermination by spreading throughout the universe, so when he invents a cheap, easy-to-build hyperdrive for spaceships, he makes sure everyone has access to the plans. Within a few days, people are heading for the stars in anything that will hold air; Allen and his lover, Judy, an adventurous ex-space shuttle pilot, take off in a plastic septic tank. The story could become merely zany at this point, but Oltion has a more serious purpose. Alan and Judy keep having to improvise solutions to serious problems. They succeed not just because they're smart but because they're confident that solutions can be found. If humanity seems trapped in a rut at the novel's beginning, the real problem is that too many people would rather avoid responsibility and let others do the thinking. While Alan and Judy don't discover a simple or safe universe, the challenges stimulate them, make them more fully human. So the author is returning to SF's roots. The novel's headlong pace calls to mind Doc Smith's breezy 1928 space opera, The Skylark of Space, and it's startling that after all this time people still are timidly waiting for personal, unrestricted space travel. Oltion makes an entertaining but forceful argument for seeking personal fulfillment through escape. (Dec. 20) FYI: Abandon in Place in its prior novella form won a Nebula award. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Traveling faster than the speed of light? That's for amateurs-and mad scientist Allen Meisner. Stowing his hyperdrive engine aboard a US spaceship, Allen whisks the crew to Saturn and beyond in a matter of minutes. Of course, he's never test-driven his invention, so he has to calibrate warp speeds and directions while literally "on the fly." While up in space, Allen also triggers an e-mail and video that tell the world how to build these portable hyperdrives "on the cheap." For that action, the crew expects tickertape parades, but is, instead, charged with treason and other nefarious crimes. The ship's captain, Judy Gallagher, and Allen escape capture for the moment, and crash in Wyoming where they are picked up by an independent but friendly trucker couple. With their help, and the money from a moral bank robber, Allen and Judy transform a yellow septic tank into a cozy spaceship, and get away to explore new worlds. Now if this sounds "camp" and a bit unbelievable, wait until Allen and Judy meet up with an intelligent butterfly with micro-camcorder and sentient trees. Oh, yes, Earthlings are starting to populate other worlds, fishing with aliens as pretty as you please. Meanwhile, those who stayed back on Earth are pitted against each other and ready to destroy themselves completely. This is all within a week of the original maiden voyage of the hyperdrive. Guess it's time to create a Galactic Federation... It's quirky, it's cute; it's got just enough logic to help the reader suspend disbelief. The mad scientist is actually one of the saner, more conservative of the bunch, but by now that should be obvious. Sprinkle some lighthearted Harry Harrison, Libertarian ideology, and curiositythat could almost kill a cat, and one gets a bit of the idea of this book's tone. Only the cover, with its traditional space shuttle voyaging among the planets, is misleading. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Tor, 400p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Dr. Lesley S.J. Farmer
Library Journal
Allen Meisner, a card-carrying "mad" scientist, unexpectedly demonstrates his working hyperdrive engine aboard a space shuttle voyage and unleashes a panicked response from the governments of Earth. When he and shuttle pilot Judy Gallagher realize that their home world considers them dangerous, Meisner decides to take his discovery on a "test run" through the universe. Oltion (Abandon in Place) fashions a rambunctious romp across space that pokes fun at bureaucracies and the politics of paranoia. An sf adventure for most collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Allen Meisner's business card identifies him as a member of INSANE (the International Network of Scientists Against Nuclear Extermination). He is worried; reasoning that the only hope for survival is to get out of here, he's been theorizing about a cheap, almost instantaneous mode of faster-than-light travel. In an experiment that he carried aboard the shuttle Discovery in two small "getaway special" canisters, his "hyperdrive" proves wildly successful (if a bit dicey to control, at first). He broadcasts the formula, and the whole world now knows how to go off-planet in any vehicle that can be made airtight for a few hours. Judy Gallagher, a pilot on the fateful shuttle flight, is soon in cahoots with Meisner, escaping from Earthly powers desperate to control the new technology. They build a ship (a customized septic tank) and head for Alpha Centauri, but in just one of many delicious twists, they find they aren't the first to get there. This is as much fun as science fiction can be-rich in the classic sense of wonder and in the most contemporary questions, and carried aloft by a wild and irresistible humor.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More farcical adventures in time and space with Allen Meisner, the "card-carrying mad" scientist from Abandon in Place (2000). In orbit above the Earth on the space shuttle Discovery, Meisner quietly tests what turns out to be an inexpensive hyperdrive device that can transport the shuttle at faster-than-light speeds. Shuttle pilot Judy Gallagher is shocked at first but then delighted to find it so easy to hop about the solar system. In an entire novel based on variations of the law of Unintended Consequences (i.e., no good deed can go unpunished), the blithe, optimistic, ditsy Meisner and the resourceful, heroic Gallagher leap from one cliffhanger to another, beginning with a hostile particle-beam blast that cripples the shuttle and makes reentry impossible, while, on board, a spy tries to capture the device for Mother Russia. Meisner outfoxes both the spy and the US military's attempt to grab the device for its own nefarious uses by disseminating the plans over the Internet and then broadcasting them to the world via a communications satellite in the shuttle's bay. Informed that she and Meisner have been tried as traitors and sentenced to death in absentia, Gallagher helps Meisner steal an escape pod from the space station. The two come down in Wyoming, where they are aided by construction worker Trent, his charming wife Donna, and even more charming Dale, a bank robber who helps them get the money to build a faster-than-light starship out of septic tank and other easily available parts and take off to make first contact with a species of intelligent butterflies, who grudgingly permit the humans to join the galactic Federation-provided they can resolve the idiotic conflicts on theirown planet. Another cute but cloying novel-length inflation of a story. Oltion's picaresque send-up of homemade spaceship stories from the 1940s, like Meisner's flip inventions, lacks substance and sense enough to fill these 400 pages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312877781
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Oltion has been a gardener, stone mason, carpenter, oilfield worker, forester, land surveyor, rock 'n' roll deejay, printer, proofreader, editor, publisher, computer consultant, movie extra, corporate secretary, and garbage truck driver.

He is also the author of over 100 published short stories and over a dozen novels, including the Tor books Abandon in Place, The Getaway Special, and Anywhere But Here. His work has won the Nebula Award and has been nominated for the Hugo award. Born and raised in Wyoming, he now lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife, Kathy, and the obligatory writer's cat, Ginger.

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Table of Contents

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    Splendid book, Even better idea.

    I was hooked on this book from the moment I saw the cover art, although the space-shuttle on makes a relatively short appearance in the story. Mad scientist Allen Meisner and Shuttle pilot Judy Gallagher go for a spin in the universe in nothing other than a septic tank! Oltion creates not only a new method of travel, but his universe is rich, unique, and entertaining. The aliens encountered are not the typical kind of aliens of sci-fi, yet he makes them believeable and quite interesting. The most intriguing part is that anyone can build a space craft out of anything airtight. A space bound septic tank-very unique indeed.

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