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Publisher's Summary

For fans of The Martian, an extraordinary new thriller of the future from number one New York Times - best-selling and Pulitzer Priz - winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein.

Over the course of 37 books, John Sandford has proven time and again his unmatchable talents for electrifying plots, rich characters, sly wit, and razor-sharp dialogue. Now, in collaboration with Ctein, he proves it all once more, in a stunning new thriller, a story as audacious as it is deeply satisfying.

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope - something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins - an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect - and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.

©2015 John Sandford (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Fans of Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers will eat this up.” (Stephen King)

"Three things to know: First, I’m the world’s biggest John Sandford fan. Second: I saw this book and thought...what? Third: I needn’t have worried. It’s vintage Sandford all the way, with all his trademark strengths and insights, except set in the future, not the present. You won’t be disappointed." (Lee Child)

"Utterly captivating! With the heart of a breakneck thriller and the mind of the best science fiction (Bradbury and Heinlein come to mind), Saturn Run keeps us enthralled from beginning to end. Sandford and Ctein have brilliantly pulled off the difficult task of making a very different world very familiar, proving that a born storyteller is a storyteller, whether he sets his books on mean streets or in deep space. I, for one, want more." (Jeffery Deaver)

What listeners say about Saturn Run

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Best Sci-Fi Book in a While!

B.V. Larson's 'Starfire' and John Sandford's 'Saturn Run' are about the same thing. Each is propelled by a a cleverly different idea about Saturn and aliens. The difference is that Sanford is apparently not just a good craftsman, but a great one. Great? If you didn't believe it before, listen to, as I just did, the two books back-to-back. Unwittingly, Sandford gives Larson and us a writing lesson.

Take for example Larson's chameleon cast who abruptly display entirely new skill sets whenever the plot needs them. It's as if a stripper becomes a graduate engineer, a drunken sailor morphs inexplicably into a naval architect and on and on... Hmmm... if I could only awake tomorrow as a world-class pianist... Sigh.

None of that happens here in 'Saturn Run'. Okay, at first it's a little spooky to hear Sandford's Virgil Flowers in space. I mean Eric Conger's been Flowers through nine books so far. But Congers overcomes, and maybe it's his comfort with Sanford's own writing voice that made 'Saturn Run' so comfortable for me. I'm guessing that Clein brought an awesome technical expertise to support with Sanford's talent for plotting, characterization, and even narrative-driving, short-hand clichés that make this one of the best Sci Fi escapes I've listened to in a while.

Pass on 'Starfire' and buy 'Saturn Run'.

41 people found this helpful

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Mission Abort

Any additional comments?

I took a chance on a new book with an author I've never read because I liked the concept of investigating a mysterious spaceship like at the start of Event Horizon or Sphere. The problem with those movies is that everything leading up to the reveal is interesting at which point the story falls apart. Saturn Run is the opposite, the payoff is compelling and much more so than the rest of the book. There's almost no tension in the "Space race" and it's a long way to Saturn with dull characters. As a one-off book it's unfortunate that the reveal won't be expanded upon, because that was the story that should have been told instead.

37 people found this helpful

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Much more than that F'ing Flowers in space

A great action author crossing into hard SF successfully. Win. Win. Win. I really enjoyed the story and the attempt to keep the science as close to realistic as possible. This was well thought out, well timed, and the characters well considered. The only trouble I had was hearing Eric Conger and having this not be a Virgil Flowers story. That took a bit. Conger can be a little dry when switching voices. His very clear and direct speaking style makes for a good listen, but it can make distinguishing the characters a bit less easy. Still, this is a great space race story with lots of believable science and a deliberately simplified by plausible first contact scenario that doesn't try to answer all the big philosophical questions of the universe.

33 people found this helpful

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Limited ideas

I like John Sandford as an author. He can write. His stories are often enjoyable.

However, Saturn Run doesn't quite make it as a decent sci-fi story.

What I think were the biggest misses here were 3 fold.
- One, Saturn Run was written using many many 1st persons. Because of this no single character is developed past a rudimentary two dimensions. You just don't care about these guys.
- Two, As a lover of sci-fi, this is a very limited 1st encounter take. The first half of the story is a helter skelter race to get to this alien space station before China. They want to see what new tech is available. The middle, is an encounter with this alien presence. Its about as uninspiring as any sci-fi I have ever come across.
- Three, and kind of a spoiler... The Chinese are up against the Americans here. The last part of this story is just so dull. Its intended to be a suspenseful climax, but at this point its just goofy.

29 people found this helpful

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Combination of The Martian and 2001 Space Odyssey

There is a lot of science in this science fiction book, but also a decent story. It does get sort of weird near the end, bur you should expect that from any book in the genre, you always need some aliens. The more "other worldly, the better.

Better known for his Lucas Davenport (Prey Series), this a a new genre for John Sanford. You probably need to like science fiction to enjoy this, and if you are a woman who likes science fiction maybe even more so; many of the major characters are women. The book's major theme is a race between the US and China to explore an alien sighting in the rings of Saturn. This leads to some good tension-filled moments.

If you are really into the science part of Science Fiction make sure to listen to the addendum after the book.It has some really interesting discussions on different approaches to interplanetary rocket propulsion systems.

23 people found this helpful

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Hard Sci-Fi well told

As a kid I was a huge fan of “Hard Sci-Fi” which by my definition is future fiction which focuses on technology which feels like it might be really real someday. This book is exactly that…and I loved most of it. Sandford tells a story like nobody else and his driving narrative is at the core of this tale. His partnership with Ctein who provided the very credible tech components worked really well. The characters are typical Sandford. Our hero is a 2065 version of Lucas Davenport and I’m OK with that. If there was anything not to love in the book it was its revival of a cold war conflict between the Americans and the ascendant Chinese. I realize that having bad guys is a typically a narrative requirement but there was so much fascinating and fun stuff going on already did we really to add such a transparent boogie man? That aside, the ‘First Contact’ component of the story is really well done and I would have enjoyed much more of it. Not since rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke has such a credible and compelling first contact story been told.
The book moves along at a nice pace and is packed with interesting characters. If you are a fan of the Prey novels or good old fashioned Sci-Fi give this book a listen.

22 people found this helpful

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I wrote this on John Sandford's Facebook Page

It' also what I want to say here and I am only a third of the way through the book. Initially I was one of those wondering "Why Sci Fi?" Not any more...

Anyone missing Virgil , Lucas and anyone else needs to just have a little faith in you. I am about 3 hours into the Eric Conger Audible of Saturn Run and am just (I'll use) gobsmacked (because it isn't overused here). If I have to wait a year for Virgil I might happily wait another if there's more if this. I have said in my Audible "Prayer Review" that as long as you write I really trust it'll be better than what I was hoping you write. Saturn Run is amazing, delicious, entertaining, thought provoking and just SO wonderful in the senses of what all those words mean when I take a minute to relate each one to the book. It's that good. The place beyond "can't put it down" is "pick it up only when I can REALLY appreciate it" because I may not be able to make it last until the next 'anything' comes out. The science is SO interesting and the questions is give me are just as interesting. Sometimes I just stop and wonder things like "Google's there but not Amazon?" or "Will the Houston flash" turn out to be an EMP event?"How many people are on the ship?" "How many on the Chinese ship?" I'll watch a movie if they make it but they'll probably screw it up. This is just too good. Thank you ,thank you,thank you.

13 people found this helpful

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Starts out great and then collapses

I thought this book was going to be one of my favorite books this year for the first 90% of the book and then it just fell apart with an ending that really doesn't match the rest of the book. I could barely finish it and was so disappointed. So sad, but my final reaction was just sort of meh. Wish I hadn't wasted the credit.

12 people found this helpful

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I kept waiting for this book to disappoint me...

What other book might you compare Saturn Run to and why?

"20000 Leagues Under the Sea" meets "A Brief History of Time" meets Virgil Flowers. It sounds like a mess, but the authors actually pull it off.

Have you listened to any of Eric Conger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. This is his best work to date.

Any additional comments?

Highly satisfying story and master-level narration.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Js
  • 10-29-15

Hard SciFi, Treatise on Human Nature, Thriller

If You Liked "The Martian"

John Sanford impresses more and more. Correct science in the "science" fiction: yes. orbital mechanics, check. Brilliantly delineated cynical politicians, nailed it. Character development: people you learn to care about in peril. The Big Idea--unique! Pacing and suspense, yes yes yes.
Humor, of course.

Sanford brought Ctein aboard for the science, and in hundreds of pages, only once did my nerd radar twitch. There is a delightful postscript too, describing the science.

Dialog is a Sanford forte and he carries it over to "Saturn Run". These are Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin level interchanges.

And WHAT is out there orbiting Saturn? What a great concept he comes up with! I have read thousands of pages of SciFi and it is hard to come up with anything that has not been thought of before. I will of course be argued with, but for me, this exact concept is new, and that is amazing. I just can't talk about it because spoilers.

I will say that keeping the crew of the "Richard M. Nixon" in the dark about the mysterious Chinese space vehicle gave an ominous tension to the book, and subsequent revelations inform us re human nature. Great way to handle that part of the story.

I do have a complaint: it ended. Yes, it ended when it needed to end: not chopped short and not dragged out. It was just right, of course. needs an Ah, but how I wished for another hundred pages.

Two comments:
-If humanity gets hold of a way to produce abundant antimatter before we colonize the asteroid belt we will kill our own species; all our eggs in one basket, as Hawkings says.

-Sandord views humanity with that American blend of cynical ill-regard of humanity en masse and those who come to control societies, counter balanced with optimistic ebullient affection for individuals of the species.

11 people found this helpful

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