The spaceship Johannes Kepler is travelling the routine 92-day trip between Lunar Station and Mars when it is hit by a meteorite. The Captain and all senior crew members were holding a meeting and were killed by the impact. The only officers left are First Engineer Holtz, who refuses to leave the engine room and Lieutenant Donald Chase, a young doctor in his first post.
Chase finds himself in charge of a badly damaged ship, with a crew trained simply to obey orders, and over 100 passengers on the brink of panic. The novel follows his attempts to improvise solutions to problems which arise as they nurse the ship on towards Mars.
Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey, 1925–2012) was an American science fiction (SF) author, best known for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and for his novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966). The latter was the rough basis for the motion picture Soylent Green (1973). Harrison was (with Brian Aldiss) the co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.
Aldiss called him "a constant peer and great family friend". His friend Michael Carroll said, "Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and picture them as science-fiction novels. They're rip-roaring adventures, but they're stories with a lot of heart."
Novelist Christopher Priest wrote in an obituary, "Harrison was an extremely ... (more)