It’s the ultimate test of courage.
The Man: an astronaut who has lost his mojo
The Mission: to seek and destroy a hijacked space shuttle
The Cargo: enough weapons grade Uranium-235 to irradiate Manhattan
The Stakes: the woman he loves and the fate of a city
From NASA’s Cape Canaveral to the Central Australian desert, Steve Worland’s debut thriller sets a heart-stopping pace. A cast of brilliant characters combined with explosive action make this a genuine blockbuster. (Audible)
If you had a little good humoured chuckle at the book trailer provided below like I did – then Steve Worland’s action thriller Velocity is just the type of novel for you. Worland’s debut novel has been parelleled, by the author himself, to the best-selling titles of fellow Australian author Matthew Reilly. Despite my usual literary leanings, as a long time fan of Reilly’s escapist adventure fare, I was eager to verify this claim. I have to say, I was impressed with what I found.
He realises, unhappily, the he is now, officially, that guy. Everyone knows one: a guy who did the most interesting and meaningful thing in his life when he was young. Judd is the one who flew into orbit once but never did it again, the aerospace equivalent of a one-hit wonder.
The protagonist of Velocity is an interesting character. Sure, an unlikely hero is not that uncommon. But rarely do you come across heroes carrying around such large chips on their shoulders, that are so self-absorbed and act quite as abrasively to those trying to help them. At times you feel like slapping him, but for some reason – perhaps the author’s skill or because the fate of humanity is at stake, perhaps both – you give him some slack and ultimately he more than redeems himself.
Velocity by Steve Worland is escapist entertainment coupled with an original cast of characters and surprisingly complex plot for this genre.
Worland’s addition of a light-hearted and optimistic side-kick, chopper pilot Corey, to balance out his damaged hero’s darker moments was a master stroke. Corey has his own bad luck story, but his approach to dealing with the curve balls life throws him is the exact opposite to that of Judd. He tackles the seemingly impossible with an endearing dry sense of humour and never say die attitude. Corey (and his best mate Spike) were my favourite characters.
Spike barks. Corey drags his eyes from the burning horizon and looks at the dog. ‘I know, mate. Apology accepted.’
The dog barks again. ‘Yeah, let’s go home.’ Corey works the controls and the Loach’s turbine screams to life. With a blast of red dust the little chopper rises off the desert and thumps towards that blazing horizon. Corey glances at the dog. He’d lost his friends and his job and had been an outcast for three years because of this animal and yet he would never think of getting rid of him, the irony being that Spike was now the only one he could talk to who didn’t think he was crazy.
Even the Velocity baddies have their own unique histories, comic moments and eccentricities. Worland’s attention to detail, introduction of light and shade to his characters, and most importantly a humorous undercurrent, helps the reader frequently suspend belief as the characters carry out the super human feats the action-adventure plot requires of them.
As with any novel in the escapist action genre, Velocity did have it’s weaknesses from a literary viewpoint. The overt references to brand names grated on me when listening to this in audio, but if written with product placement in mind for an eventual movie, it’s probably commercial genius. The Ockham’s Razor and ‘work it backwards’ references were a little laboured also.
So, is this title worthy of its comparison to Matthew Reilly’s back catalogue? Definitely. I actually found in some instances greater depth in Worland’s characterisation and his screen-writing experience shone through (no diagrams required).
Velocity by Steve Worland is a very welcome addition to the action-thriller genre. I look forward to listening to the sequel when it is released.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Have you read Velocity? Do you want to?
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Author Information: Steve Worland has worked extensively in film and television in Australia and the U.S.A. He has written scripts for Working Title and Icon Productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, which won five Australian Film Institute awards. Steve also wrote the New Line action-comedy telemovie Hard Knox, episodes of the television series Big Sky and the Saturn award-winning Farscape. He is currently writing the sequel to Velocity.
Steve lives in Sydney with his wife Georgie and daughter Holly.
* My receiving this title free from the author did not affect my ability to express my honest opinions in this book review.