Read Rocket Science by Jay Lake Online


In ROCKET SCIENCE, Jay Lake's first novel, Vernon Dunham's friend Floyd Bellamy has returned to Augusta, Kansas after serving in World War II, but he hasn't come back empty-handed: he's stolen a super-secret aircraft right from under the Germans. Vernon doesn't think it's your ordinary run-of-the-mill aircraft. For one thing, it's been buried under the Arctic ice for hundrIn ROCKET SCIENCE, Jay Lake's first novel, Vernon Dunham's friend Floyd Bellamy has returned to Augusta, Kansas after serving in World War II, but he hasn't come back empty-handed: he's stolen a super-secret aircraft right from under the Germans. Vernon doesn't think it's your ordinary run-of-the-mill aircraft. For one thing, it's been buried under the Arctic ice for hundreds of years. When it actually starts talking to him, he realizes it doesn't belong in Kansas-or anywhere on Earth. The problem is, a lot of folks know about the ship and are out to get it, including the Nazis, the U.S. Army-and that's just for starters. Vernon has to figure out how to communicate with the ship and unravel its secrets before everyone catches up with him. If he ends up dead, and the ship falls into the wrong hands, it won't take a rocket scientist to predict the fate of humanity....

Title : Rocket Science
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780974657363
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 220 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Rocket Science Reviews

  • Richard Derus
    2018-12-10 23:10

    UPDATE 6/1/2014: My blog about Jay Lake's death.UPDATE 7/16/2013: has an audiobook of this novel now! Narrated by Scott Aiello.Read my review at Shelf Inflicted!Rating: 3.75* of fiveThe Publisher Says: In ROCKET SCIENCE, Jay Lake's first novel, Vernon Dunham's friend Floyd Bellamy has returned to Augusta, Kansas, after serving in World War II, but he hasn't come back empty-handed: he's stolen a super-secret aircraft right from under the Germans. Vernon doesn't think it's your ordinary run-of-the-mill aircraft. For one thing, it's been buried under the Arctic ice for hundreds of years. When it actually starts talking to him, he realizes it doesn't belong in Kansas--or anywhere on Earth. The problem is, a lot of folks know about the ship and are out to get it, including the Nazis, the U.S. Army--and that's just for starters. Vernon has to figure out how to communicate with the ship and unravel its secrets before everyone catches up with him. If he ends up dead, and the ship falls into the wrong hands, it won't take a rocket scientist to predict the fate of humanity.My Review: Jay Lake, author of this fun and funny romp of a book, is dying of cancer. Quite publicly. He blogs about it, posts on Facebook about it, and generally has made no secret of the fact that he's "on the last plane out, just have to see if the flight's a long one or a short one." (Yes, I'm quoting.) He's even having a "Jay Wake". His blog invites us as follows: You are invited to my pre-mortem wake and roast, a somewhat morbid, deeply irreverent, but joyous celebration of me. This is a time for celebrating my life, loves, and dark, twisted sense of humor.It's on 27 July...and there's just enough time beforehand for me to, once a week or so, post reviews of the books I've read that have given me so many grins and thrills over the years since I discovered him in 2006. With this book, which I bought at ArmadilloCon in Austin.As first novels go, this one's a solid effort. It's got thrills and it's got chills...several times I wondered if the narrator was going to survive...and it's got a thinking, relativistic-speed-capable machine that speaks German and learns English from the gospel radio stations it "hears." How it learns to make sense out of that nonsense....It's got two characters I like a lot, Vernon the narrator and Floyd his sociopath buddy. It's got some right awful baddies, a daddy who's a drunk, and absolutely no sex, to Vernon's lasting dismay. It's also got pacing problems and there's no sense not talking about the doormattiness of Vernon's long-term fixation on Floyd. But it's a first novel! And, even before I got sucked in to the real-life Sturm und Drang of Jay Lake's life, I knew that the mind that created this book was inside a head that laughs at everything.My kinda guy!So here's me, laughing along, enjoying the view out the tumbril on the way to the guillotine. It's morbid, you protest? Yeah well, the man is dying and a hushed respectful eyes-cast-down Appreciation would go over like a fart in church with him. I've had a lot of fun reading his books. I'm going to tell the world that BEFORE he dies. I urge the SFnally inclined, even modestly so, to buy this book and smile along with the writer, and me!, in some haste. No knowing when the doorbell will ring.And how many times do you read a book that *ends* with a round trip to Mars about to begin?This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Emily
    2018-11-10 21:02

    Really this gets 2.5 stars from me. I didn't know what to make of this book. I never connected with any of the characters and only really got to the end because it was so short and so all over the place like a car crash I wanted to know how it would end. I read my share of scifi but this one actively kept the real world on the other side of the room. It's set just after WWII and the author does a decent job of making the book feel like it was written back then, but I felt like it was trying too hard to be period - it was something I _noticed_. My review is a bit harsher than I intended it... You're safe to pass on this one unless I've sparked your curiosity.

  • Jerjonji
    2018-11-21 19:16

    Is it a mystery? Fantasy? A family memoir? All I know for sure is that rural Kansas after World War 2 was a lot more exciting with alien spaceships, Nazis, FBI, Kansas City Mobsters, and moonshine runners than any part of Kansas I've seen on our countless trips through it. Give the spaceship a better sense of humanity than any of the men in the novel and put in a family twist, and you have a good sense of the chaos Jay Lake created... on purpose!

  • Jim Mcclanahan
    2018-11-29 19:50

    A novel written about young post WW II characters in a rural Kansas environment that happen upon a mysterious alien artifact and must deal with a myriad of interests trying to co-opt it. Told in a YA style of narrative, this tale moves along briskly and provides plenty of suspense and adventure. An enjoyable read.

  • Amazingbollweevil
    2018-12-11 22:09

    Terrible, terrible book and I'am totally baffled that anyone gave it better than three stars in their reviews. This is the story of a physically crippled, idiot milksop who is manipulated by his handsome, smooth-talking, ne'er-do-well "best friend," into working on a stolen Nazi aircraft at the end of WWII. The protagonist is most easily manipulated and scatterbrained lead character I've seen in all my years. The story writing is also very weird. It feels like the author was going for a mix of "hard-boiled" and 1940's style writing, but it just comes across as Namby Pamby. He spends considerable time telling us the most mundane details (like how the protagonist pried a board off the outhouse) but totally glosses over details we really want to know (like the shape of the aircraft). To whom is this book targeted? I have no idea. Since there is almost no cursing (the protagonist says "heck" fer cryin' out loud), it feels like it should be a children's novel sitting on the shelf beside The Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift, but there are some very adult moments (e.g., prostitution and premarital sex). Worst of all is that the story is so god damn slow. The protagonist is constantly mulling over the most pointless and useless thoughts and fails to think about the ramifications of any of his actions. I do a really great job at suspending disbelief, but this book taxed me to the limit and beyond. Goodreads needs to add a new category to its "Read, Reading, Want to read" drop-down: "Thrown across the room with much vigor."

  • Thomas
    2018-12-03 20:58

    Jay Lake is an unknown to me, but he sure does get a lot of praise. His first novel, Rocket Science, received starred reviews in both Library Journal and Booklist, which prompted me to read it. Once I had the book in hand, I saw that Locus magazine also had nothing but praise for the book, and the author blurbs (none of whom I recognized) spoke of weirdness ... the kind of weirdness that makes regular weird look like the Stepford wives, y'know?First off, let me say that I almost didn't make it through this book. I was about 30 pages into it when The Demolished Man showed up for me at the library, and was having a hard time getting into the book. I may have been distracted during those 30 pages, but I just wasn't getting any kind of feel for the book during that time. I contemplated just returning it, unfinished, a habit which I've finally adopted in order to have enough years left in my life to read the books I want to read. But there was a nagging voice in the back of my head, and it said, Give it one more chance.Well, you should know by now that if I'm writing a review of the book, then I must have finished it, right? It's sort of like those suspense novels written in the first person; you never really worry about the hero making it through the events, because he lived to tell you the story. Anyway, I'm glad I did give it that last chance, because it picked up at that point, and I eagerly finished it within a couple of evenings.Rocket Science is set in the late 1940s, shortly after the end of World War II. Patriotism is high, as is the Red Scare, but the main character of the book stayed out of the war (against his will, of course) due to a bad leg he received from a childhood bout with polio. During the war, he worked as an aircraft engineer, working on the planes that required top-level confidentiality. His best friend did serve in the war, though, and he's returning with a bit of contraband: He's taken a panzer tank, and also a large, unidentifiable aircraft. Of course, something that large can't pass into the country without someone noticing, and it's not long before the entire city seems to be drawing in on the two buddies and their machines....OK, I liked this book. It read quickly, and once I got into the story, I found myself having a lot of fun with the story. It kept me involved, and kept me reading. The story is, at its core, a noir mystery, since it's all about who's after these two guys, but the story is classified as science fiction because of the mysterious aircraft. This is an odd pairing of genres, because I think the publishers do the story a disservice by attaching the SF label, making readers expect something extraordinary to happen during the read. By the same token, if they advertised it as a noir-style mystery, then that audience would likely be disappointed by the SF overtones. Either way, though, I think the fusion works, because there were enough red herrings in there to keep me guessing who was the guilty party, and I was also intrigued with the story behind the aircraft.My biggest disappointment was that it didn't meet up with the level of weirdness I was expecting. Andreas Eschbach, Steve Aylett, and Damien Broderick all set the bar of weirdness high for me with (respectively) The Carpet Makers, Lint, and Godplayers, and if I'm reading blurbs about how weird this novel is going to be, it better be Alice in Wonderland-meets-Marilyn Manson-meets-They Might Be Giants weird. Rocket Science was a little unusual, sure, but it's certainly not weird.Still, it was a good book, even if it ended abruptly. I have to say that it wasn't a complete waste of my time.

  • Robert Runte
    2018-11-19 19:57

    Review circa 2005, reprinted fron NeoOpsis magazine #7. Jay Lake is the 2004 winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, on the basis of his many short stories, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his editing, so it should come as no surprise that his first novel, Rocket Science is easily one of the best I've read this year. The novel is set in post-WWII Kansas where our first-person narrator finds his life turned upside down when his best friend shows up with what appears to be a stolen German secret weapon. Hiding the German prototype in the neighbour's barn, however, it becomes increasingly clear that this is no ordinary plane, but a four hundred year old artifact the German's unearthed in the arctic; in other words, an alien space craft. What makes Rocket Science so entertaining, however, is not just the usual "I've got a spaceship in my barn" storyline, but the way Lake manages to bypass the last forty years of my life to plug directly into my 13 year old hindbrain and plunk me down once again in the middle row of the Roxy Cinema for a new Saturday afternoon serial. Lake throws more curves, cliffhangers, Nazi spies, traitors, moonshiners, benevolent aliens, angora sweater babes, and trigger happy army commanders into his novel than any actual serial would have dared. And those guys had no restraint!But wait, there's more! Not satisfied with merely romping through our childhood memories to deliver a page-turning adventure novel, Lake manages to add in another couple of layers for our adult forebrains too. As our protagonist finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into misadventure, he begins to realize that everything he knows about his small town Kansas life has been completely wrong, that practically everyone else has a guilty past or current secret they do not want him to expose, and that life is a lot more complicated than it appears. Lake even manages to convey a fair bit of character development as our hero loses his naivety, and as various other characters confront the realities of who they were or what they have become.As an extra bonus if you order now, Lake even manages to deliver an upbeat ending and an optimistic view of humanity, in spite the many villains and hard breaks that beset our hero. This is a protagonist that believes in the American dream, the progress of science, and that nice guys can finish first, and he almost makes you believe it too.I highly recommend Rocket Science and am convinced you'll find it worth the trouble of tracking down through your local bookstore or direct from Fairwood Press.

  • Hugh Mannfield
    2018-11-14 17:03

    Vernon Dunham likes airplanes but he never imagined one would like him back. He thought he had learned everything about airplanes working as a parts buyer for B29 production in Wichita, but when Vernon’s best friend Floyd Bellamy comes home from WWII Europe, the learning is just beginning. Hey mom, look what followed me home! Can I keep it? A dog, maybe, but a talking alien spacecraft dug out from under the arctic ice by Nazis, certainly not! The arrival of Floyd and his airplane turns Vernon’s world upside down and inside out. A secret like Pegasus is hard to keep and close on Floyd’s heels are the Nazis, the Army CID, the County Sheriff, and the local cops; not necessarily in that order. Vernon is in over his head very quickly as all these elements conspire to capture Pegasus while they tear his world apart; taking from him trust in everything and everyone he has ever known, including his best friend. Finally he realizes that he can only trust himself and his new friend, the alien flying machine. This is truly a classic Science Fiction story. This book has a great retro feel to it and Jay Lake takes you back to a simpler more innocent America. I spent some time growing up in Oklahoma near the Kansas border and Jay has really captured that part of rural America. (Nazi sleeper cells, the Italian mafia, moonshine runners, and communists not withstanding.) The only thing Jay left out of the political soup he concocted were Civil War Confederate holdovers and the KKK. All of the organizations scrambling to get their hands on Pegasus are eventually thwarted by two young men from small town America. Jay unfolds a plot designed to make the average reader feel smarter than the hero. Another retro facet of this book is that it is a male story. This book is a great read for any young man. In the current era of female dominated editorial staffs and agencies this book is a breath of fresh air for the male reader. How will this translate to sales? We’ll have to watch. Women need their literature too but let’s hope that Jay continues to supply material for this increasingly neglected market. There are a couple of logistical hiccups that I scratched my head over, but the plot moved fast enough that I shrugged them off. (Such as, if you can’t feel accelerations while riding in the alien ship, why did it have such an elaborate seat belt system? Hmmm?) If you’re looking for a fun read without having to do a lot of thinking, I’m happy to recommend Rocket Science.

  • Thom
    2018-11-14 01:12

    This tale is set just after World War II, a time when Nazis and spies, Commies and moonshiners and more are available bogeymen. It is told entirely from the point of view of a Boeing employee whose best friend comes home from Germany with a great story and a secret rocket that he acquired somehow.Each chapter after that adds more layers onto the plot, as more and more people find out about the rocket and try to take it for themselves. It turns out the rocket has a point of view also, and it talks to the main character in a voice only he can hear. These situations give the novel a very pulp feel and also add a bit of humor.When I read of Jay Lake's passing earlier this year, I noted he was a fairly prolific writer, and sought out this book to sample his work. The writing here is excellent, evoking the feel of the late forties and also providing excellent descriptions of the cars, trucks and planes that show up in the story.This is not a long book, and is well worth seeking out. I understand that Audible has recently released a recording of this, and I may read that version soon, just for fun.

  • Bill
    2018-11-12 21:10

    This is unprecedented in recent history. I devoured this book in three nights of reading. Granted, there aren't that many pages. I enjoyed the heck out of them all.In Rocket Science, Jay Lake has populated a small post-WWII Kansas town with likable folks, Nazi agents, Communist spies, traitors, mobsters, military police, and a flying machine that's not of this Earth. He blends them together in a tale that is a page turner from start to finish, with the biggest surprises at the end.The writing is first rate, with enough description to make the characters and setting pop to life in the minds-eye. And not too much to get in the way of the action. But it was not without fault. Some of the surprises are easy to see coming, though they are still a little surprising as you see them set up. The narrators inner monologue got a bit repetitive. And there are occasional bloopers (within pages of each other, characters are pulled up "by main force"). But it's all good.

  • Jeff
    2018-12-01 21:14

    Got this from the library. What a fun read. Vernon's friend Floyd comes back to Kansas after WWII but not empty handed. He brings home a super secret plane that he "acquired" from the Germans at the end of the war. He enlists Vernon to help him figure out how to fly it. The Nazis start coming after them, as does US Army Intelligence and that's just the start. But when the plane starts talking to Floyd, he realizes it doesn't belong in Kansas or perhaps Earth (I know punny, blame the guy who wrote the blurb on the back of the book)It starts off like a pulpy spy thriller but takes a scifi twist that I really enjoyed. Definitely worth your time.S: 1/18/14 F: 1/24/14 (7 Days)

  • MB Taylor
    2018-11-20 20:52

    I finished reading Jay Lake’s Rocket Science (2005) last night. It’s a fun little SF novel that takes place in post WWII Kansas.The protagonists are two 20-something long-time friends, Vernon and Floyd. Floyd has just returned home from the War; while Vernon, excluded from the military due to polio, works at Boeing in Wichita.Vernon’s the good, smart one and Floyd’s the not-so-good charmer & schemer. Seems Floyd’s has stolen some strange Nazi equipment and needs Vernon to figure it out. Unfortunately, the US Army, the local mob, and some leftover Nazis all want it and hardly anyone is what they seem.Nothing too deep, but a fun read.

  • Kristi
    2018-11-17 23:09

    A light and quick sci-fi read set in the years immediately after WWII in Kansas. A confusing mix of defeated Nazis, military police, regular police, communists, gangsters and our frequently unfortunate protaganist are all fighting over a spaceship shipped from Europe to Kansas. One thing I enjoyed was the way the protaganist narrated his awe and tried to figure out how the future technology could work, constantly referring to vacuum tubes and such. Not particularly memorable, but not bad either.

  • Benjamin Newland
    2018-11-22 19:16

    After reading Green, his latest, I wanted more by Jay Lake. Rocket Science is his debut, more of a novella than a full length novel, which makes sense because he wrote short fiction for a long time before going novel length. This story is set in rural Kansas right after World War II, and the details and depth of that setting are awesome. By the climax we have: Nazi sympathizers, Communist agents, The Kansas City Mob, regular cops and Army counter intelligence, all after the poor hero and the pacifist space ship he’s accidentally discovered. AWESOME!!!

  • David
    2018-12-09 17:54

    Well golly gee, that sure was a swell book there! Our everyman hero has to deal with a cell of communists, Nazis, Mafiosa, Army intelligence, and secret ancient rocket technology all rolled into rural Kansas. He stands in the shadow of his charismatic war hero buddy who smuggled an ultra-top-secret aircraft out of the European theater. Everything get's totally out of hand before our hero is able to save the day. I had the nagging feeling that I had read this book before, but couldn't remember how it ended. The end was rather abrupt. Just like this review.

  • Delta
    2018-12-06 00:10

    It's been a long time since I've read a sci fi novel that, from a high vantage point looks like a children's adventure book, but upon closer inspection is an in-depth character study on small towns, prejudice, secrets, and lies. The characters have flaws, making them seem all the more real. Setting the story in the early 1950s serves the story well.I listened to the audio version and Scott Aiello did an excellent job capturing the dark humor of the story. Pacing was excellent.

  • Matt
    2018-11-22 17:15

    The post-WWII backdrop seems so quaint at first. But what's in that mysterious freight delivery? Why do the voices in my head speak German? And is that librarian a Nazi? Or maybe a Communist? Or bootlegger? Or just a visiting member of the Chicago mob? Lake's book is a fun and humorous retro-sci-fi adventure.

  • Christopher McKitterick
    2018-12-01 16:53

    A historical SF romp set right after WWII, with Nazis and Communists and old rum-runners and an AI-powered flying saucer. Reading this was so much fun that I found myself laughing out loud. Here's an author who really loves his work.

  • John
    2018-11-17 17:58

    Fun stuff - a little slower to unfold than I expected, but one it revs up, the second half of the book is a turbo-sled. Interesting take on the old "finding a flying saucer" tale, and I really like the old pulpy feel of Jay Lake's storytelling style.

  • Ross Lockhart
    2018-11-25 21:07

    Rocket Science has Nazis, G-Men, Commies, and a talking space ship named Pegasus. How could you possibly go wrong with a combination like that?

  • Djrmel
    2018-11-13 22:02

    Fun science fiction set in post WWII Kansas. This story reminds me of X-Files when it was at it's best - when it had a sense of humor.

  • Ned Stenger White
    2018-11-23 23:55

    definitely a fun read, but rather overly plotted. also, didn't feel like a Jay Lake book, but then it was his first.

  • Lawrence Schoen
    2018-12-06 00:07

    This is plain and simply a fun book, and an excellent first novel.

  • Andy
    2018-12-02 20:58

    I really enjoyed this novel, one that's clearly a throwback to the sf novels of yesteryear. A lot of fun.

  • Lane
    2018-12-01 21:01

    Some of it was fairly predictable, but all in all a fun, quick read with a sort of old school b-movie kind of charm.

  • Edwin Downward
    2018-11-12 23:54

    A fast paced descent into what have we gotten ourselves into.