In this installment of This Is What I Read I present SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts.
I’ve always known Coonts as a military writer and have read several of his books. This was something I picked up on a random visit to Barnes & Noble.
The Saucer series brings science fiction to the forefront and Savage Planet represents the third book, bringing a conclusion to the series and the primary characters; Rip Cantrell, Charley (Charlotte) Pine and Egg Cantrell. Coonts uses a near-human alien, Adam Solo, marooned on Earth for over 1,000 years, to bring the primary characters to their respective destinies.
With so many reviews out there for this novel I’ll take a different tack and analyze some of it’s structure. There is sufficient information on our characters in this novel where it can be a standalone read, which was fortunate since B&N didn’t have the first two titles of the series lol.
Coonts begins with Adam Solo and gradually uses his history on Earth to take our heroes around in one, of two, recovered saucers to secure areas to avoid two selfishly ambitious pharmacy moguls and the US government itself, as Solo waits for a starship with his fellow aliens.
There was much more introspection written into Solo and I found myself far more interested in him than the main characters. I could see how he was important to the lives of the mains as well as the plot, visitors from outer space meet the President, but somewhat lamented the fact that he was secondary in the storyline. Solo was the adverb, the pronoun, the conjunction that propelled the story along. (In a blog post Coonts does hint at possible stories with Solo as the main character)
On a related note, and this is something I see in many novels, we don’t get too deep into any of the characters. Perhaps that happened in the first two novels but again, I’ve seen this in many novels. Maybe it’s done to fit the book into a word or page count …
An example I can provide off the top of my head is the book Starship Troopers. It’s just way too short. You really start to get into it about 3/4 of the way in …. then it just ends.
Still, Saucer is a good story I give it a rating of 4/5.
If you wonder what I consider deep character development, my personal standard for getting to know a character is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, but that is a novel where the character we get to see inside of is the main character.