The Throne of Saturn: A Novel of Space and Politics is written by Conservative novelist Allen Drury. It takes us to an alternate history of the Cold Era where the United States and the Soviet Union enter into a second space race, but this time, it is a journey to Mars.
NASA is planning a mission to Mars and it is being completely politicized. Senator Kenny Williams is against the launch and the space program in general. He is allied with magazine editor Percy Mercy. Both are trying to influence to the president to either cancel the program or to do it in cooperation with the Soviet Union.
NASA is fed up with the politics. They are facing much infighting as astronauts Dr. J.V. Halleck, the only black astronaut is playing the race card and media darling Jazz Weickert, who is disliked at the astronaut office are in rebellion for not being included on the mission. They decide to go ahead with the mission with famed pilot Trasker as the commander. Trasker hand picks his crew of like minded and cooperative astronauts, but his choices cause rifts politically.
Percy Mercy is angered and finds an ally in labor organizer Clete O’Donnell (who is also a Soviet sympathizer) who protests the space program which leads to a violent altercation where an astronaut looses a leg. As a result, the President allows the Soviets to participate and forces NASA to put Weicket and Halleck on the mission dubbed Planetary Fleet One.
What follows is a lot of drama, political intrigue, and sabotage that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I will admit, it makes angry that something as wonderful as being the lead in the space race could be politicized as it was in the novel. However, even in modern times, we see it all the time.
The novel is just as important today as it touches on subjects that are considered politically charged today. Subjects like innovation, national pride, cooperating, race issues, and so much more. I will say, this novel is heavy. It has a lot of characters and a lot of subjects, but once you get into it, you will start to get a feel for it.
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