Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Apollo's Outcasts
Allen Steele
Pyr, 311 pages

Allen Steele
Allen M. Steele's first published SF was his story "Live from the Mars Hotel," published in Asimov's Science Fiction in 1988. Since then his novels and collections have included Orbital Decay, Clarke County, Space, Lunar Descent, Labyrinth of Night, Rude Astronauts, The Jericho Iteration, The Tranquillity Alternative and All-American Alien Boy. Steele, a resident of St. Louis, MO, received both the 1996 Hugo Award and the 1996 Science Fiction Weekly Reader Appreciation Award for his novella "The Death of Captain Future," which appeared in Asimov's in June 1995.

Allen Steele Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review:The Last Science Fiction Writer
SF Site Review: Primary Ignition
SF Site Review: River Horses
SF Site Review: American Beauty
SF Site Review: Coyote
SF Site Review: Oceanspace
SF Site Review: A King of Infinite Space
SF Site Review: A King of Infinite Space
SF Site Interview: Allen Steele (part 1)
SF Site Interview: Allen Steele (part 2)

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Apollo's Outcasts On the day he should be celebrating his birthday, Jamey Barlowe and his sister Melissa are awakened in the middle of the night to find themselves whisked off to the one place where they might be safe. There's been a political coup in the United States, and their father is a public figure on the wrong side. With pursuit closing in, Jamey and Melissa are loaded on to a shuttle and launched. They're on their way to the Moon.

That's the set-up for Apollo's Outcasts, a young adult novel from Allen Steele. It features, in addition to the political background, adventures on the Moon, a budding romance, and young people being forced to confront the responsibilities of adulthood in dramatic fashion, the standard stuff of many a YA novel. But for long-time science fiction readers, one aspect of Apollo's Outcasts stands out above all others. Apollo's Outcasts isn't just a near-future young adult novel, it's a Heinlein juvenile YA novel, and that invokes a tradition that takes many grown-up SF readers back to the golden age of their youth.

There are certainly plenty of the qualities that make up a Heinlein juvenile in Apollo's Outcasts. The basic situation of a teen forced to discover his or her self in a new environment recalls everything from Farmer in the Sky to Citizen of the Galaxy. And the bits of fascination with the details of technology in between the adventure and character study are right out of the Heinlein playbook. But the Heinlein stories that Apollo's Outcasts are closest to are three short stories from the ostensibly adult The Past Through Tomorrow future history series, "The Black Pits Of Luna," "It's Great To Be Back," and "The Menace From Earth." It's the focus on the details of daily life in a new land, and the sense that some people will adapt to the new conditions and some won't that also fleshes out the story of Apollo's Outcasts, and give the novel its closest connection to Heinlein.

That's all good for those of us who grew up reading all those books when we were about the same age as the characters, the question is will Apollo's Outcasts find a readership among those who are teenagers and young adults now? There's no doubt the prose is solid and the characters understandable and real. The political set-up is handled with enough detail, and close enough to current events, to make up a convincing set of bad guys, and the action and battle scenes are up close and personal. Let's hope that's enough for Apollo's Outcasts to find a sizable audience. It would be good to see a classically-styled space adventure competing with all the near-future apocalypses and vampire fantasies that dominate the market for young adult novels.

Copyright © 2013 by Greg L. Johnson

Apollo's Outcasts has given reviewer Greg L Johnson several places to add to his fictional map of the Moon. Greg's reviews have appeared in publications ranging from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide