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05 December 2012

Able One

Able One by Ben Bova is a thrill ride from page one to the last word - not surprising considering how many of his books have won awards.

ABL-1 is a Boeing 747 outfitted with a high powered laser that - in theory - can shoot missiles out of the sky before they can land on their targets. It is still in the test phase. And after an explosion in an earlier prototype, they have been exiled to an airbase in Alaska for tests far from civilians.

When the North Koreans launch a satellite into orbit, analysts in the United States are surprised at their technology - North Korea is not known for its accuracy with missile launches. Then, when all civilian and non-hardened satellites lose power it appears that the launch was not of a satellite of their own, but a weapon that disabled most the world's GPS, Internet, TV and Cellphone networks.

With two more missiles sitting on a launch pad in North Korea, ABL-1, or Able One, just went from a training flight to an understaffed mission to save the US from a potential nuclear missile strike. With the President on his way to San Francisco to give a speech, he is counting on both the inability of North Korea to have the technology to reach him and of Able One to stop any incoming threats.

Bova has created a tense situation for both the technicians and Air Force on the plane and the government team in conference. As launch begins to look eminent, analysts hope that they can prevent a potential world-wide nuclear war. Techs on the plane fight to get their laser up to speed and get into position to - hopefully - be able to help out. Great technological thriller.

Bova, Ben. (2010). Able One. New York: Tor.

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