The Sam Gunn Omnibus
Tor, 2009 (2007)
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Reviewed by Theresa Ichino
ova's quirky hero Sam Gunn is new to me, although the author has been writing his adventures for some thirty years. Apparently most were in the form of short stories. Tor has issued this omnibus in the form of anecdotes collected by Bova's protagonist Jane Avril Inconnu (known as Jade), who is researching Sam's life for a biography. Her own story is in itself worthy of notice: Jade is a foundling, left an orphan at Moonbase and forever exiled from earth because of her brittle bone disease (osteopetrosis). She convinces her superiors at Solar News Network that chasing the Sam Gunn story will prove newsworthy (read profitable). However, the adventurer is a will o-the wisp who leads her all over the solar system in search of reliable witnesses to his antics.
hysically, Sam is far from the image of a typical adventurer. Short (some 161 cms tall), ginger-haired, freckled, with a jack o' lantern grin, he barely makes the height requirements to become an astronaut. He is frequently described as a grown-up (adult in appearance, that is) Huck Finn. Once accepted to the space agency, Sam immediately butts heads with all forms of authority, including the commanders of his missions. Nor has he the dignity in his personal life one would prefer in an astronaut's image. Sam bristles at any hint of bullying of the
, whether the adversary be a government or a large corporation; and his susceptibility to women is legendary. Oddly enough, so is his appeal. This unlikely Lothario proves irresistible with surprising frequency. His audacious ploys, as well as his courage, are characteristic of an adventurer; and his quixotic generosity makes forgivable his tendency to make use of people. In short, Sam is an engaging rogue.
he Sam Gunn Omnibus
takes us from his early days as an astonaut through his freewheeling schemes to make himself a fortune (he makes and loses several) until his final most ambitious and dangerous quest that leads to disaster in a black hole. His odyssey also follows the fortunes and growth of Jade, who eventually finds answers and peace as she resolves
Sam's story. Bova gives glimpses of Earth's tumultuous history - it is always reassuring to see that we survive - in which Sam plays a pivotal role. The conclusion is most satisfying, giving a happy ending to many.
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