"Hel claims that her hacker friends are a bunch of freaking geniuses. A Sidewinder up the tailpipe would be a brutal way to learn that Hel overestimates her geek pals' expertise."
Fired by NASA for stunt-flying a space shuttle during re-entry, ex-astronaut Mick Oolfson now spends his unhappy days spraying manure over soybeans from his ailing DC3, dreaming of returning to space. So when testosterone-surfing geek goddess Heloise Chin offers him an astronaut gig on Channel Zilch, a pirate orbiting reality show, Mick jumps at the chance. What Heloise doesn't mention is that the dream gig involves stealing the space shuttle Enterprise.
Getting back into space is worth a little risk, but Mick never signed on for Russian gangsters and nightmare journeys on reeking Turkish freighters. He also didn't expect Tobias Ishwald, the relentless head of NASA Security-and the man who got him canned-to try to ruin his dreams a second time. Trusting Hel will probably get him killed, but with a little fancy flying Mick just might see the stars again.
A near-future, hard-science thriller with heart and purpose, CHANNEL ZILCH is a smart, fast-moving adventure you won't soon forget, and the first volume in the "Hel's Bet" trilogy.
Praise for CHANNEL ZILCH:
"A madcap romp . . . Filled to the brim with hilarious set pieces, this is a wickedly entertaining read." -Aliette de Bodard, 2013 Nebula Award winner
"Sharp's dialogue is glib, whip-smart and moves, almost-dare I say-Zelaznyesque to some degree but with sharper corners, making this high-energy joyride of a novel almost impossible to put down. . . I recommend it to anyone interested in a seat-of-the-pants, high-tech SF thriller with more than its share of attitude, intriguing, eccentric characters, and a smoldering Sense of Wonder bubbling under the surface of every page." -SF Site (featured review)
"I loved Channel Zilch! A brilliant, witty, crime caper involving a retired space shuttle, I was hooked from the first chapter through the last page." -William Hertling, author of "The Last Firewall
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One thing you will learn in the first ten pages of this fizzy sci-fi-heist-espionage-noir is that Doug Sharp was born to tell stories, the longer the better. When your subject is a favorite genre trope (didn't Jefferson Starship win a Hugo Award for a spacecraft-hijack saga in record album form? In 1971?) the long form tests your power of invention. And boy howdy can this author invent: action sequences, godawful puns, high-tech aeronautics porn, taut suspense, one-liners, Caucasian mafia politics, and three or four scenes I guarantee you won't forget, including some of the most twisted sand hilarious guess-I-gotta-call-'em-sex scenes ever. These last prominently feature one Heloise Chin, a geek goddess/femme fat ale who is every engineer's dream/nightmare lover and only one of a vivid set of characters. It's a shame this was published this month (September, 2013): it feels like a perfect summer read. But It offers plenty enough thrills, suspense, and laughs to get the reader through any any stressful time i can think of back here on Earth.
Channel Zilch grabs you in the first sentence and refuses to let go. Fans of Heinlein will love this story about a washed up astronaut, a disturbed uber geek, a space hippie, and a cable TV's star's journey to launch Channel Zilch. Pursued across the world by the obsessed, unstable head of NASA security, the Channel Zilch team must overcome the overwhelming logistical challenges of stealing and launching a defunct space shuttle, including battling sea sickness and being waylaid by the Russian mafia. Channel Zilch is an epic tale of a group of oddballs that must make up for past failures while chasing a dream that no one else thinks is possible. The reader comes along on a wild ride, eventually beginning to believe that this misfit crew can accomplish anything.
I tried to stay with the story but gave up halfway as the pile-up of caricatures as characters, groaningly-bad writing, and plot contrivances became too much. Another tedious fantasy of how a small group of super-intelligent/super-adventorous/super-rich/super-sexy people manage to beat a planet-full of dim-wits.