How do you react when you discover that
the next Shuttle disaster has happened...
right on schedule?
Image copyright Darrell Osborn, 2008
Reviews are posted top = oldest, bottom = most recent. There is a division
between quotations and links, again with the topmost being the older ones
and the bottom being most recently published.
"I remember when Steph sent me her first draft of Burnout. It was before the
Columbia tragedy. I read through it and I recall telling her that I thought she
had hit the nail on the head. Her description of the burn-up on reentry was
very visual and technically sound. Then, while I was reading her manuscript,
it happened! The Columbia burned up on reentry. And, the visual horror
of the accident was almost identical to how Stephanie had described it in her
book. I had extreme horrible chills run up and down my spine.
"However, her depiction wasn't psychic. It wasn't magic at all. Instead, it
was a brilliant analysis by someone who had "sat on console" for NASA for
years and who had the experience to describe the horror of just such an
accident. To top that off, her manuscript was intriguing and fun. You should
give it a read. I read it twice."
~ Travis "Doc" Taylor, author of Tau Ceti Agenda, Human By Choice, and Claws That Catch
"Burnout is a compelling, impossible to put down, first novel in the class of Skylark
of Space or "Lifeline." ... It may perhaps be the most realistic view ever published in
fiction about what happens behind the scenes at NASA."
~ Jim Woosley, Ph.D. physicist and Heinlein essayist
"Hard-edged SF that wraps a compelling mystery around "this is the
space science. BURNOUT is tight, tense, and gripping--- Osborn tells a damn
good story, and tells it well."
~ Holly Lisle, author of The Ruby Key: Moon & Sun I.
BURNOUT -- A Review
This is an ambitious, impressive first novel, from a veteran of the US space program.
It is pure fiction, as the author is careful to point out, yet it seamlessly weaves
together typical operations of NASA with much of the UFOlogy that made
The X-Files and similar creations so successful. And the theme is very similar to
X-Files: a small group of dedicated heroes commit themselves to a dangerous
journey to discover truths which the powers-that-be don’t want discovered.
The story starts with the burnout of Space Shuttle STS-281 over Texas, viewed
from the ground by a crew of off-shift NASA staff and contractors. It is reminiscent
of the Columbia entry accident, although in a postscript the author notes
her book was drafted well before that awful disaster. Emmett “Crash”
Murphy is an ex-fighter jockey, an F-4 pilot in Vietnam, and an ex-NASA entry
control specialist. He’s called in as part of the accident reconstruction
team. But, there’s a discrepancy with two versions of the flight recorder
data. Then a recovered piece of the shuttle hatch has marks indicating it was
cut from within, not burned in atmosphere entry. And when the astronauts’
bodies are recovered from the Gulf of Mexico, they don’t match with medical
records. Evidence starts disappearing. Investigators around Crash start
having memory lapses or fatal accidents. As Holmes famously remarked,
“I fear, Watson... that there is some mischief afoot”.
Meanwhile, in a parallel plotline, Mike Anders, an Australian astronomer and an old
friend of Crash is on his way to America to tend his radio telescope research
project in the southwest US. Two agents of the Australian government
intercept Mike and provide some provocative data suggesting a stealthed alien
spacecraft is in low-earth orbit. They solicit his assistance, hint at a conspiracy
and appeal to his patriotism to help them out. As Mike arrives in the US and
begins to study the data, he not only confirms the presence of an alien
spacecraft but also begins to uncover seemingly unrelated anomalies.
Anomalies related to the Shuttle burnout. More mischief afoot.
These plotlines come together neatly as Crash and Mike hook up and discern that
there is a shadowy organization at the root of the mischief. At this point, though,
it’s more than mischief: with eleven bodies and counting, our two heroes
clearly are in danger for what they know or suspect. Since the conspiracy
obviously involves the government -- and likely more than just one government
-- they go it alone, sneaking into a buried enclave in the infamous Area 51
in search of the truth. These developments are laced with the humor of
a group of UFO abductees (recruited by our heroes to provide diversion
and cover) and with the mysticism of a native American protective medallion.
I won’t spoil it by saying any more, but the plot continues to thicken
based on what the two discover while navigating through the tunnels
and ductwork of the enclave.
Underlying this story is the old philosophical question of the appropriate use of
power and when the end justifies the means. The author leaves the ending
ambiguous. Crash survives to tell the tale, but Mike sacrifices his own life
to make that happen. Or does he? Enough evidence has been gathered to let the
truth come out. But will it? A massive government coverup is spinning an
entirely different tale, involving no aliens. At this point, why? I like this
ambiguity -- in the real world, after all, the end-vs-means question frequently
runs up against situational morality. But of course such an ending demands
a sequel... about power gone awry and the underdog heroes fighting
it. Let’s hope one is well underway by this talented new writer of
mystery science fiction.
~ Lee Denning, author of Monkey Trap and Hiding Hand
January 24, 2009
"I just finished reading it [Burnout]. Really well done! Probably my
favorite space themed thriller since "Shadows of Medusa" and Ben Bova's "Mars"
trilogy. I am glad I got to meet you at the MidSouth Con... Anyway,
I look forward to reading your subsequent novels. You deserve all the
credit for a remarkably detailed piece of conspiracy (my favorite subject!)."
~ David Nora
"OMG! Just finished BURNOUT. C'mon Steph, where's the Sequel (or prequel,
I'm Not Picky)? Seriously People, if You haven't Heard about this book, You
better fix it quick!"
~ Kat Hibpshman
April 23, 2009: Just finished the book... WOW!!! Loved it! Outstanding
storyline, well developed characters, and the glossary in the back is a real
treat. A truly great read... definitely worthy of a sequel. Awesome
"I finished reading Burnout a few nights ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
Hope there's a sequel planned so our intrepid heroes can battle the alien
menace. Hope the book launch goes exceptionally well for you."
"GOOD BOOK! Really, this was a good read! I'm not a sci-fi person and told
Darrell [Osborn] that if I even finished it he could count that as an achievement;
however, I couldn't put it down and really enjoyed the storyline... almost
realistic, but not, but then again, if... Well, I guess that's the feeling an
author would want to invoke! Tammy [Boyer] made the same comment
(she's reading it now) yesterday after she stayed up into the wee hours
reading it. Congratulations and keep it up!"
Burnout blasts off in an exciting science fiction mystery sure to capture
your interest from the very first page. Space Shuttle STS-281 plunges
to Earth in a deadly fireball, apparently killing all seven crew members.
As the pieces of the wreckage are recovered, all indications seem to point to
human error, a tragic accident - or is it? Some of the evidence doesn’t match
that theory and anyone not in agreement mysteriously winds up dead or fleeing
for their lives.
Stephanie Osborn leads us on a riveting journey across several continents,
from the outback of Australia to the southwestern United States as a massive
cover up flares to life. Courage, love, alliances and friendship are tested
as “Crash” Murphy and Mike Anders infiltrate Area 51 and come face to face
with an international conspiracy. Who can they trust and who wants to
make very certain neither one escapes with the knowledge and evidence that
will rock the world?
Ms. Osborn’s experience as a seasoned veteran of the space program, as well
as her love for astronomy and geology, showed through clearly in numerous
portions of this novel. I opened the cover of Burnout in the morning and
couldn’t put it down! This intriguing maze of plot twists, danger, intrigue
and excitement would make an excellent movie. Six stars to this outstanding
~Ann B. Keller, Author of Crenellations: A Collection of Poetry and Vortex of Revelation
Generally speaking I am a poet…I love to read but because of my lack of time
with work, family and other obligations reading books is rare… However,
Stephanie Osborn’s Burnout had me hanging on the edge of my seat. It became
more of a task to put it down then to pick it up. I found myself immersed
in the story line as if I myself were on the mission. Stephanie provided
not only an entertaining story but a real thrill ride for the senses… I
recommend you buy a copy and partake in this adventure… So worth the few
bucks I spent…
Stephanie Osborn’s Burnout is out of this world. She takes Sci-Fi and the real
space program to an entirely new level.
A shuttle has burnout during re-entry; all aboard are lost. But are they really?
The autopsies don't match the burnt bodies, people are disappearing who
have had anything to do with the shuttle, the body count keeps getting higher
by the hour.
Crash Murphy is running against the clock to find out why – every road he travels
comes to a dead end or a dead body. Even those he loves seem to disappear.
The question is, why is this happening and who is behind it and will he find
the answers before he also becomes worm dirt?
Stephanie Osborn uses her background and her skills to make this the most
believable Sci-Fi I have ever read. She is right up there with Jules Verne
with her Sci-Fi and Fiction.
Definitely a five star read.
~Yvonne Mason, author of Silent Scream and Brilliant Insanity
For a link, go to Yvonne's Wordpress Blog
I read "Burnout" and I think it's great! Expert meshing of techno and realism.
I took "Burnout" to the beach last month where I did a quick read. This
weekend I'm reading it again and it is very well written, in my opinion. It
has lots of technical jargon in it but the storyline rises way above
everything. I'm intrigued by the book.
~Joyce Norman, author of Coming Together
"Burnout" is a great read!
I was hooked on the story before I reached the end of the second page. By
the end of the first chapter I couldn't put the book down!
The characters are written so well you'd swear that you already know them,
you just haven't seen them in a while. They're that real and true to life.
The story itself is one of those perfect mixes of action, character development,
clues to the mystery that are well placed but not obvious, a dash of romance,
a sprinkling of conspiracy theory- all of which is set against a backdrop
of real and are-you-sure-it-isn't-real science.
The pacing draws the reader in as each scene builds upon those that came
before. The dashes of foreshadowing are exactly right; not too much, not
too little. As the mystery unfolds, the reader sees how the clues fit
together and how the hero turns the puzzle pieces this way and that until
they *do* fit together. The danger to the heroes is believable, relentless,
and you want to jump up out of your chair and cheer each time the heroes
have a narrow escape. Likewise, when the villains get the upper hand, you
want to leap into the action yourself, just to help the heroes when they
need a hand. The story is just that real, that gripping. After only a very
few pages you'll forget that it's a novel, that you're reading a book as
the story plays out in your mind's eye.
Stephanie Osborn has got the gift. This is a wonderful novel. Try it, you
won't regret it.
~Daniel Hollifield, Senior Editor & Publisher, Aphelion Webzine
More to come...
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