The Cassandra Project

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The Cassandra Project

“Houston, we have a problem.” These are the words on the cover of the book, The Cassandra Project, authored by Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick. And for a large part of the book, the key players in this story are trying to find out if they do, indeed, have a problem. There is a conspiracy theory that the famous Apollo XI landing was not the first one on the Moon.This novel is a "what if?" kind of story related to that theory. Not to make assumptions here, but the fact that so many theories and wild ideas about space exploration and ancient aliens are in this story reminded me of it.

The key players in this story are Jerry Culpepper, a former presidential campaign frontman-turned NASA guy-turned space expert; President George Cunningham; and, just to add a bit of entertainment to the story, the wild and crazy Morgan “Bucky” Blackstone, a self-made multimillionaire who has always dreamed of being the dictator of some kind of Moon-based colony. Actually, he strikes me more as a watered-down version of Special Agent Fox Mulder just because he takes on a whole “the truth is out there” mission in this story.

At a press conference, Jerry is asked about a mysterious recording some pesky reporter dug up that hints about a pre-Armstrong landing on the Moon. This is what sets the story in motion and for a long time, Jerry, Bucky and the president’s wise guys are on a wild goose chase to find out if it really happened. Did somebody land on the Moon before the Armstrong and Aldrin landing? Or was the whole thing some poor attempt to keep NASA alive despite dwindling funds to support it? The characters toss around a lot of questions, ideas and theories about the whole thing, amid a bunch of idle banter. And while they wonder if it could be true and why there might be a cover-up about it, the bigger question everybody keeps asking is, why would the government keep the whole thing secret for so long? After all, the U.S. was in a race against Russia to plant a flag on the Moon, and an earlier landing would’ve been just the ticket. No, something bigger is going on here, and everyone starts trying to find out what it is.

I enjoyed reading The Cassandra Project because, for one, it’s set in the future and so it was quite fascinating. Second, it’s an interesting look at a possible scenario in the event such a theory is true. Also, the character Bucky is supposed to be a bad guy, but he really grew on me. He does have likable traits and the fact that he wanted to uncover what the government did not want the world to know made him all the more likable. He wanted the truth and he was going to go after it no matter who tries to stop him. Even the character Jerry warms up to him after he sees NASA and the government for what it really is (at least, in the story). It was hard to put down this book because I got so caught up in this story from beginning to end and it rekindled my love, and dreams, for space exploration and reaching beyond the stars.

During a press conference, NASA spokesperson Jerry Culpepper discovers a mysterious recording that could mean a secret landing on the Moon happened long before Apollo XI. But is it true? And if so, why would the government keep it a secret? What exactly are they trying to hide? He and multimillionaire Morgan “Bucky” Blackstone race against government henchmen to find out the truth, and the bigger secret that was kept hidden.

Book Blurb for The Cassandra Project

Two science fiction masters—Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick—team up to deliver a classic thriller in which one man uncovers the secret history of the US space program…

Early in his career, Jerry Culpepper could never have been accused of being idealistic. Doing public relations—even for politicians—was strictly business...until he was hired as NASA’s public affairs director and discovered a client he could believe in. Proud of the agency’s history and sure of its destiny, he was thrilled to be a part of its future—a bright era of far-reaching space exploration.

But public disinterest and budget cuts changed that future. Now, a half century after the first moon landing, Jerry feels like the only one with stars—and unexplored planets and solar systems—in his eyes.

Still, Jerry does his job, trying to drum up interest in the legacy of the agency. Then a fifty-year-old secret about the Apollo XI mission is revealed, and he finds himself embroiled in the biggest controversy of the twenty-first century, one that will test his ability—and his willingness—to spin the truth about a conspiracy of reality-altering proportions...

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2013 5.00