The Oortian Summer by Richard Rydon
Lulu Books 2007
The Oortian Summer by Richard Rydon is a science fiction story set in the very near future of 2024. In it, he creates a competitive professional environment filled with real people that we can connect with. Then, in order to turn up the tension level, Rydon gives them a powerful, all-too-real doomsday scenario to solve: two comets careening towards Earth.
The story itself revolves around Luper Beauchamps, a young astronomer struggling in both career andlove. He works at an astronomical observatory under the so-called guidance of Professor Walter Hally, a man obsessed with his own fame and prestige. This creates a less than desirable work environment for young Luper, and he turns to senior astronomer Tom Green, and twins Andrea and Andina Jorgenson for friendship and support during what will be the greatest discovery of his life.
In my opinion, two things make The Oortian Summer work: detail and setting.
Rydon uses a keen eye for detail and the knowledge earned from his years working in the science field to give us a glimpse of a day-in-the-life of an astronomer. This isn’t the exaggerated Hollywood fluff we’ve come to know, but honest, real-world experience. It’s competitive. It can be slow and tedious. It’s about getting enough money to fund your research. But, if you’re one of the lucky ones (and Luper Beauchamps is), you can make a discovery that will put your name forever in the annals of history.
Setting is another thing Rydon has a strong grasp of. Having the majority of the events take place in the confines of an astronomical observatory, and by describing it with meticulous detail, the reader can almost see the 50-meter telescope looming above. Not only does this give the feeling of credibility to the events that occur, but it permeates a type of closeness between us and the characters; it’s as if we have all been locked away together and have no choice but to get to know one another. Then, when the suspense hits, we’re all in it together. There is no place for the characters, or us, to run.
In conclusion, The Oortian Summer is a fine read. It’s scientific and technical, yet there aren’t pages of calculus equations that leave you rubbing your temples. It covers a common theme, but it covers it in an uncommon way. So, for those of you who read the part above about two comets making a b-line towards Earth and said, “Been there done that,” I can tell you, you’re wrong. I won’t tell you why, though—spoilers ruin all the fun. So, read The Oortian Summer. This is what science fiction was meant to be. And you won’t be disappointed.
Thomas Bolme, Jr.
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