The Jerry Pournelle series continues.
Raw Feed (1993): Exiles to Glory, Jerry Pournelle, 1977.
This is the last installment in what The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls the Laurie Jo Hansen sequence.
I enjoyed it, particularly the climax where the hero, engineer Kevin Senecal, builds a steam powered rocket (an idea which also shows up in the conclusion of Pournelle’s King David’s Spaceship) to escape captivity on an asteroid.
The scientific and engineering nuts-and-bolts details were well worked out and enjoyable.
The book’s pessimism about the future of the world (as seen from 1977) as a descent into welfare statism with ever increasing welfare costs, evermore reluctance to invest in long term engineering and scientific ventures, and evermore environmental degradation (latter Pournelle writings, both fact and fiction, show his pessimism lessening on this point) is certainly a product of its time though the state of American society (petty bureaucrats overseeing welfare kingdoms, coddling of criminals, a propensity to see human society as something that can be rationally ordered using tenets from the “science” of psychology) is not to far removed from current America.
There were some problems with the novel.
Wiley Ralston, Senecal’s old friend, was obviously involved in the sabotage of the Wayfarer ever since the spaceport scene where he warns Senecal to take another capsule. Also, the scene where Senecal and Glenda Hansen-MacKenzie are interrupted by clever villain (who ultimately succeeds in getting away and paying his gambling debts paid) Henri Stoire was pretty hackneyed. However it thematically fits in with Senecal being humilated and set on by street gangs.
I liked the secret, rule-breaking fellowship of Futurians, hardly a coincidental name given there was an sf club by that name [and it included Pournelle’s friend Frederik Pohl], and the bomb driven asteroid.