Ace, Jan 2001, 12.95, 384 pp.
The Argonas is a gigantic spaceship that houses thousands of people while visiting different galaxies. The residents on board have lived on the ship for generations and have lost sight of their original mission or who even built the craft. Inside the ship, is a city structure with two classes of people: the ruling oligarchy and the downsiders who provide forced manual labor. The latter have no rights or freedoms.
The travelers have not touched down in a planet in twelve years, but now receive a signal from a place capable of sustaining life. The leaders decide to explore the planet. Humans once colonized Antioch, but when the visitors arrive they find the horrible site of numerous skeletons hanging from hooks in an alien-like chamber. They flee rather quickly, but soon stumble across an alien space ship as big as their own. No one seems aboard as members of the Argonas explore the vessel, unaware of that they have let loose on their own population.
Space opera was never quite like this tale. Anyone who were enthralled by the aliens from the movie Alien will love Richard Paul Russo's latest masterpiece, SHIP OF FOOLS. The title is appropriate. The author creates a shocker of an ending that no one could have predicted, probably not even the author when he was drafting the novel. Even the day-to-day details of life on the spaceship seem fascinating as readers are simply hooked by a wonderful plot that would make a powerful movie.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner