Following his successful base jump from Fred Noonan Skyport, Tiger Bailey undertakes the next step in the development process of the Gryphon hardshell wingsuit, a drop from Low Earth Orbit. Using the Gryphon-10 with enhanced navigation and computer control, and with a greater wingspan, he uses the Slingshot Space Launch Loop to gain Low Earth Orbit (LEO), but experiences equipment problems that nearly destroy him and doom the project. Ultimately, Tiger perseveres and drops into the Earth's atmosphere. He skips out in in several times before eventually making a harrowing but safe landing.
Robert Williscroft has done it again. The idea of jumping from orbit using little more than a spacesuit and a re-entry pack goes back at least to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and I’ve used it myself, but Williscroft puts a new twist on it as “Tiger” Baily makes the jump in Daedalus LEO. A great tale, with his usual attention to detail.
Daedalus LEO by Robert G. Williscroft is even more exciting than Daedalus, the first story in this series. There are more thrills, more near-escapes, more humor, and more spectacular sightseeing of the Earth far below. More romance too, for that matter. This time around the author has upped the ante. It’s the first manned LEO (Low Earth Orbit) drop, and instead of 80 klicks, the Gryphon 10 has to drop 160, or twice as far. And of course, despite the best efforts of Derek “Tiger” Baily and his team, almost everything seems to go wrong.
Those who are the first to enter a new frontier incur a great risk. Numbers are not enough. Planning is not enough. Safeguards are not enough. As Derek says, “until we actually made the first drop, all we had were numbers that we hoped made sense.” You have to constantly be prepared for the unexpected, for times “when all hell breaks loose!” This is a great adventure, even better than the first, and I’m glad I was along for the ride.
Daedalus LEO is about the unimaginable, yet somehow, Robert Williscroft not only imagined it but made it real—and breathtakingly thrilling.
The idea of a human being deliberately placing himself in low earth orbit to carry out a proof of concept mission is an image as fresh, and yet disturbing, as they come. Mind you, Derek “Tiger” Baily is an extraordinary human, and this is no ordinary story. Those of us growing up in the space age know full well that reentry from orbit is terrifyingly dangerous. The fires of reentry consume foolish mortals who make the slightest mistake. And mistakes and problems arise aplenty in Tiger’s trial run.
At risk is the future of American special warfare operations. Will Baily’s risky adventure be the birth of something entirely new, or yet another failed blue-sky concept ending in cinders?
Author Robert Williscroft delivers the goods once again with Daedalus LEO, a short sci-fi story that chronicles Lt. Commander Derek “Tiger” Baily’s flight from low-Earth orbit in a wingsuit. To call the Gryphon-10 a wingsuit is a stretch, but I think it conveys the idea without introducing spoilers. As with all of Williscroft’s work, the writing is tight and realistic. The characters are three-dimensional against a backdrop of excitement, thrills, and cliff-hangers. And the science in this sci-fi is damn accurate. In fact, much of the plot and details are science fact, and part of the fun, as with the work of the late great Michael Crichton, is trying to discern the thin line between truth and fiction. The Starchild Trilogy and Daedalus short stories are highly recommended to sci-fi/thriller aficionados. Five stars!
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