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Near Space Books In Order

Publication Order of Near-Space Books

Orbital Decay (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Clarke County, Space (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lunar Descent (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Labyrinth of Night (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A King of Infinite Space (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Near-Space Short Stories/Novellas

The Weight (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sex and Violence in Zero-G (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Near Space also known as Rude Astronauts series is a series of science fiction book by bestselling American author of fantasy and science fiction books, Allen M. Steele. Allen began his Rude Astronauts series in 1989 when Orbital Decay the first book in the series was published.

Orbital Decay

A fact that always seems to happen is that the novels that are the most modest, least pretentious and unassuming turn out to be ones that you can hardly put down. Orbital Decay is the first book in Near Space series by Allen M. Steele. It is hard science fiction at its gritty best. The novel is episodic at the same time cohesive story set in the early 21st century inside the Olympus Station, aka Skycan by the crew aboard it while the toil day and night to build a huge power satellite intended to harvest solar energy and then send to Earth as electricity.

Without the knowledge of any crew member, is the fact that the space ship is also harboring NSA agents disguising themselves as meteorologists. The true nature of the NSA, a communications surveillance system also known as Big Ear is kept secret until when a vibrant young engineer shows up for duty in Skycan and begins upsetting everyone aboard.

The author juggles a lot of big balls with his series debut novel, and most importantly he doesn’t drop any of them and recovers his scarce fumbles so beautifully you don’t even really notice. Like earlier mentioned, Orbital Decay is episodic but moreover its also focused squarely on the characters, whom the author manages to make them colorful, real and likable without lapsing into cliché or typecasting. Many of the dedicated beamjacks in the Skycan have escaped their shadowy pasts back on earth, and the author reveals each of the character histories gradually as the narrative unfolds henceforth creating rich and multifaceted characters whom you’ll come to love and admire despite their flaws intimately.

At a logical level, Orbital Decay delivers. Just before the last few pages, the paces picks up in a lightning speed as our group of unlikely heroes find something they shouldn’t have and stray from their league in trying to stop their discovery. Suspense, genuine human warmth, and action combine to make the book one of the science fiction’s most influential debut novels from one of the greatest authors of all time.

The main character Popeye Hooker, a space station discovers a surveillance conspiracy. He knows that space is not all; it’s cracked up to be. A retired fisherman who takes a job to construct low orbital stations to escape from a failed love affair, he soon discovers that in space, everything is tough as Earth. When they are not building the space stations that will host humanity into space, Sam and beamjacks get high and get a glimpse through telescopes to the world they left behind. But their life in the space is about to get even more enjoyable.

Hidden in the life support machine that keeps them alive and the entertainment machines that keep them happy, the workers find something surprising. It turns out that their home is not just a space station; it’s a spy device made to spy on every human on Earth. This is the greatest invasion of privacy ever, and the workers won’t stand for it.

Allen Steele has done a fantastic job in crafting his series debut novel, Orbital Decay. He describes to the reader a technology that only exists in his mind as if he’s reading it from a technical manual. He creates characters that aren’t classic but instead are down to earth, the type of men who are a hard hat with the names of Virgin Bruce and Popeye.

Clarke County Space

The second in the series is one of the best delightful books you’ll ever read. The story opens up with an order prominent author being approached by a stranger who wants to inform him a true story of Clarke County, a space colony in the moon.

In this second series installment, you get to meet the church of Elvis and its leader, a rich lover to a mobster on the run with important computer discs and cash that he would kill to recapture. Then there’s an assassin sent after her, the police chief and a bunch of other exciting characters.
We first meet the main character John Bighorn, who takes peyote in order to have interpretive dreams. After he wakes up, he discovers the wife of a local politician who wants to sleep with him. He declines the offer. Then we are transported to transport the bride in first class, and the murderer and the church in the 3rd class, where they are frozen “zombies” for the journey.

After waking up, the killer talks to Living Elvis, and it’s a lot of fun. The FBI is involved, if only to ask Bighorn to oversee the girl, which he does. Find “the Golem” (the murderer) and warn him to leave to gain eternal enmity. Meanwhile, an appeal has been made to the Bulletin Boards calling on Clarke County to declare its independence from the earth and become a free state that is hotly contested. In fact, this mysterious person may appear electronically almost everywhere, and although he sometimes plays pranks, he is very helpful to throughout the book.

The Church of Elvis is present for a televised revival to attract more members. Macy disguises herself as a cultist with the people but gets spotted on television by the golem who tracks her down. She is kidnapped by the cops first and placed under protection, but unfortunately, there are only a bunch of unarmed cops in the colony armed with just tasers. To make it even worse, there’s a shootout between Bighorn and the golem.

Overall, Clarke County Space is an excellent story with plausible descriptions of an orbital habitat. The characters are well developed enough to make you care about them. As always, the author builds a compelling story, gets the science right to keep any reader hooked to the last page.

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