Survive! Marooned on Planet Tau Ceti g
An unexpected meteor shower that punctures the hull of the spacecraft like pebbles in water, sudden loss of oxygen and pressure, random death by explosion, fragments and depressurization, heroic but doomed efforts to save lives, many deaths; these scenes open Survive by Charles P. Graham. Some officers and crew manage to escape to the planet below, with a minimum of shelter and supplies. The story is about how they cope with injuries, alien food, unknown ecosystems, predators by trial and error, and techniques gleaned from human history. They are aided by an apex predator, the pidoggs, who behave like already domesticated canines, albeit with their own higher customs. There are some very fortuitous happenings, such as an easily discovered cure for local bacteria. The alien pigdoggs are helpful to the extreme, but the beauty of the book is the survival process and intelligence of the shipmates. Each challenge is presented like a mini-mystery; knowing the resources and the problem, what would the reader do to; arm themselves, defend against huge predators, kill enormous herbivores for food and materials, and protect themselves from carnivorous insects.
It is refreshing that these marooned spacemen are adults in attitude and behavior. Even the romance is appropriate. It is easy to identify with one character or another, that quality helps pull the reader into the story. The balance of science and fiction is appropriate, it is science fiction after all; the other plot balance is ecology and survival. The main characters have to face the fact their survival requires the death of local fauna. That question is made moot by the isolation of the crew; they have to overcome their squeamishness or die. The book is a good tale, with believable characters who inspire by their selflessness and intellect in a difficult situation. I recommend it as a great example of positive thought and action.
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