by J J Perry

"Twenty-two hours later, the tug disengaged. It would jettison its disposable booster, destined to spiral into the sun."

The 23rd team of the Repopulation, Expansion, and Annexation Program (REAP) has undergone extensive flight, landing, and emergency preparation. The only factor it can't prepare for is human nature. Aboard the spaceship, a crew of four highly trained couples experiences the effects of being cooped up in close quarters. Adultery, revenge, and at least one unhinged crew member threaten years of preparation. Soon after liftoff, disaster strikes. The last 22 missions failed; humanity's fate is in their hands. Does this team have what it takes to succeed?

This realistic sci-fi tale uses advanced technology, science, and AI to paint a very rich world. The result is a believable environment which seems a possible future, complete with ironically named and extremely realistic humanoid robots. Yet this detailed sci-fi setup only serves to prop up what is truly the star here: the author's unforgiving portrayal of human nature. The crew members (as well as everyone else) are living, breathing creatures with human and animal urges and desires. Much of the conflict comes from the sexual and interpersonal relationships between the crewmembers—and their very human faults.

Perry writes descriptively yet never drily, putting readers into this tightly-packed space mission and allowing them to feel the conflict—and loss—along with the crewmembers. With intelligent characters from all over the world and well-written dialogue, this tale is a great read for any sci-fi fan. The book serves as a reminder that no matter how far our knowledge extends, we will always be at the mercy of our minds and bodies.

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