Carl's Reviews > Oxygen

Oxygen by John B. Olson
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's review
Aug 13, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasysci-fi
Recommended for: Fans of Sci-Fi and Techno-thrillers, with a dash of mystery

[Edit--now available as an e-book! See my blog: ]

This is my friend John's first published book, so I suppose I'm a tad biased, but I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I started reading (stupidly) when I was supposed to be studying for finals back in my undergrad days, and ended up reading it all the way through ina bit under two day-- didn't get much studying done then!
It's unfortunate that the book went out of print, as this is a enjoyable and impressive blending of hard sci-fi, thriller, mystery, and even romance (I may have heard that it would be coming out again, hopefully in time to benefit from John's new book Fossil Hunter, but that may have been wishful thinking). The mission to Mars, along with an Apollo 13 style threat to the crew's survival provide the backbone of the plot, the question of sabatoge provides the mystery, crew conflict comes out of both that mystery as well as differences in world-view compounded by an outbreak of opposition to the mission by religious fundamentalists, those same differences in world-view provide a platform for an exploration of the human condition, man's relationship to other, God, etc, and tightly woven into all these issues is the beautifully awkward romance between the two leads, Valkyrie and Bob (even their names are a delicious contrast). This novel is a solid contribution to the genre (which I suppose is best defined as "techno-thriller") and at the same time transcends the limitations of that genre-- I think it even won an award from a Romance website! John and Randy engage the issues of the Christian market which they write in, and do so with an openness and aversion to easy answers that is unfortunately missing in so many other writers in the Christian market. That the novel was written for the Christian market (a uniquely US phenomenon) is pretty clear, but the book is accessible and thought provoking to those outside that market, regardless of world-view.
This is John's first published work, and Randy's third or fourth (I believe). It may not be poetry, but it is clear and well thought out prose, and quite mature for so early in their careers. I recommend John's other books as well, Fifth Man (sequel to Oxygen) and Adreneline. Fossil Hunter will be coming out sometime in the next year, I believe. John
s style keeps getting better, and I'm enjoying watching his work develop. I'm afraid I haven't read much more of Randy's yet, but I'll hopefully get a review of more of his work up some day.

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