Saucer by Stephen Coonts

Maybe I haven’t read enough science fiction novels to make a claim like this, but it strikes me that this one has the honour of being the only flying saucer story without any aliens. There have been plenty of buried alien spacecraft yarns; Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers springs to mind, and heck, I’ve even written about it myself. Coonts’s tale concerns the discovery of UFO in the Sahara desert by a young member of a seismic survey team, Rip Cantrell. Soon after, local archeologist Professor Soldi has a chance to examine the craft, deducing that is has been entombed there for 140,000 years.

The only sci-fi element in the novel is the saucer itself, and to be honest, the novel doesn’t need anything more. What we have here is essentially an action adventure story centering around the impact of a flying saucer on humanity. The American and Libyan governments, not to mention a few renegade Australians, all want to get their hands on the saucer. Some fear the impact of the saucer’s technology on the world; others see it as a means to get rich. But before any of them can do anything about it, Rip Cantrell manages to steal the saucer from under their noses.

There’s a lot of story packed into these 340 pages. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and humourous at times. It reads very much like an action movie in print; whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide. On the downside, the characters are a bit on the shallow side. There’s plenty of macho butt-kicking going on, but not a lot else. I also think the book could have benefitted from being longer and more descriptive. There was one point in particular which I found quite jarring, where a new character was introduced to the story, in conversation with another character on the phone; there wasn’t a single speck of description about who this new guy was, what his relationship was to the other guy, what he looked like, what age he was, or even where he was making the call from.

Criticisms aside, I liked this book. The story held my attention to the end. Overall, an enjoyable load of fluff.