Stephen Coonts is a former Navy aviator who flew A-6 Intruders in the Vietnam War. Coonts has produced a steady stream of books since his first novel, Flight of the Intruder, became a big bestseller in 1986.
That includes three books in his “Saucer” series, the third and final of which is Savage Planet (St. Martin’s Griffin, 352 pp., $27.99, hardcover; $15.99, paper). Savage Planet features a returning cast of players, many of whom had major roles in the first two books, which I have not read.
I do not recommend that Coonts fans start reading this series at the third book. It would benefit them to buy the whole series and read them lickety-split, as this sort of thriller makes the reader want to find out just what the heck is going to happen next and if anything really bad will happen to one of the heroes.
I highly recommend the third book to those who have read the first two, as I found it enthralling and exciting, even though I started at the end of the series.
Savage Planet is a rousing space adventure yarn in the spirit of the great science fiction epics of the 1950s. Plenty of one-dimensional bad guys and thugs throw spanners into the good works that the good guys are trying to do. Thriller-adventure novels are only as good as their villains, and the villains in this series are from the world of Big Pharma. They are on a quest to find a med that is the equivalent of the Fountain of Youth.
The good guys have the sort of names such as the heroes had in books of my youth: Adam Solo, Rip Cantrell, “Charley” Pine, Uncle Egg. One of these intrepid heroes, by the way, is a woman.
The character I enjoyed the most was Adam Solo, an alien stranded on earth a thousand years ago. He occasionally coughs up references to incidents and adventures from his tenure on this savage planet. He is intrepid, resourceful, and occasionally borderline witty. Also this hero is a librarian or claims to be. I love it when an action hero is a librarian.
Savage Planet presents a mostly optimistic vision of our planetary future. That’s a welcome diversion in these dire, doom-laden times. If you are in the mood to escape into the fun of reading an old-fashioned thriller SF novel, I recommend this trilogy.
The author’s website is www.coonts.com