The second installment in Jamie Beckett’s sci-fi thriller series, Just About Armageddon, finds our reluctant hero, Randy Tagget, aboard a space platform called the Lifeboat Augusta with a carefully selected crew. Planet Earth, as we know it, is gone, victim of a meteorite the size of Manhattan. This crew has no idea how long it will have to survive in space, but that’s not the only problem Tagget will face.
Beckett originally envisioned this series as something akin to the movie serials of the 1950s (think The Rocketman). In the first installment, To the Lifeboats, Tagget is part of an elite group of specialists (engineers, mathematicians, software developers, doctors, agronomists, pilots) chosen for their ability to rebuilt earth from the catastrophic effects of the meteorite. A total of 379 rockets were launched toward three lifeboats and 317 achieved orbit.
Keisha Miller, pilot of Tagget’s ship, was trained by Governor Raphael Fuentes, who establishes himself as the leader of the Lifeboat Augusta. Fuentes is hardly the benevolent dictator. Tagget and a small band of trusted confidants discover Fuentes has designs on a larger empire in space and won’t hesitate to eliminate whoever stands in his way.
Though Tagget doesn’t know who to trust, he eventually forms a secret team with Miller, software engineer Ashish Shah and air traffic controller Ronnie Tarkasian in a high-stakes plan whose failure would not only doom them, but possibly their entire planet.
Beckett uses his background as an airline pilot to create realistic flight scenarios. Tagget and Miller must figure out a way to stop Fuentes, while protecting their co-conspirators.
In both installments, a major theme is the inability of people to work together, even when facing the destruction of the planet. Perhaps this is Beckett’s commentary on the dysfunctional political climate of Washington DC or the inability of politicians to do anything to stop the environmental damage to our planet. Even in space, politics trumps the collaboration of people of different nations and races to survive.
The cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment.
(Full disclosure: CG Blake and Jamie Beckett are longtime friends who met in the 1980s when Beckett was the bass guitar player for Hartford-based band called The Broken Hearts)