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By James W. Huston
Read By Adams Morgan

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By James W. Huston
Read by Adams Morgan
Blackstone Audiobooks, (2001)
An unabridged audiobook on 12 CDs
ISBN: 0-7861-9570-3
Genre: Thriller
Other Available Editions: Paperback | Hardcover

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 1, 2001

Fallout is an innovative techno-thriller by James W. Huston, a former naval officer who graduated from Top Gun. The U.S. Navy's Fighter Weapons School is located in Fallon, Nevada and it is commonly called TOPGUN. In this school, pilots get to practice their fighting skills by engaging in realistic wartime environments. The main character in this story is Luke (a.k.a. Stick) Henry, a Top Gun instructor. When one of his students gets involved in a midair collision while trying to take a few personal pictures, Luke is 'boarded'. The result of this hearing was that, although the accident was not his fault, he is still 'guilty' because he is accountable for the actions of his students. This ruling effectively stymies his chances for advancement, so Luck resigns his commission and decides to start his own Top Gun school.

In quick order he talks his best friend, Thud, to also resign his commission and join him in this new, and highly risky, business venture. With the financial backing of Thud's rich father, Luke begins the task of getting everything he needs to open the "Nevada Fighter Weapons School," including fighters and, of course, the permission of the government. Serendipitously, Luke is able to 'rent' some surplus MiG-29's from the U.S. government. And, coincidently, or so Luke thinks, he is also able to acquire the services of Vlad Petkoff, an expert maintenance officer and former MiG flying instructor. Unbeknownst to Luke, Vlad's career in the Russian military was ruined by his drinking, and he is now in the employ of the Russian Mafia.

With almost unbelievable ease, Luke's school is up and running. And thanks to a corrupt undersecretary, Luke also has his first four trainees. When the "Nevada Fighter Weapons School" opens they have a lucrative contract to test fire the missiles that the U.S. bought along with the MiG's, and they have their first training group, which is made up of Pakistani Air Force Pilots. It quickly becomes apparent to Luke that these pilots are not what they seem, and he is drawn into a life and death struggle to protect the U.S. from a potentially devastating terrorist attack, and to prevent a nuclear war from erupting between Pakistan and India.

This story will be of great interest to those intrigued by military aviation. There are some great action sequences, but they are too far apart to keep up this level of excitement throughout the novel. After an initial, explosive beginning, the story gets bogged down in Luke's efforts to start his fighter school. It only picks up again after the school is actually started, which is when all the 'real' fighting starts, along with some the great aerial scenes. While Vlad and the terrorist's nefarious plot are brilliantly rendered, Luke is a bit of wet blanket. He is self-centered and unbelievably naive. Despite these flaws, Huston has constructed an interesting story, with a very nice plot twist for a finale. This audiobook edition of Fallout is read by Adams Morgan, who has a very pleasant reading voice and I have enjoyed listening to him read several other books. While he does a nice job with this book, he was not able to convey the sense of excitement and adventure that the reading of this book really needed to bring it to life. Definitely not Morgan's best work, but then again, neither is it one of Huston's best works either. Nonetheless, this is a diverting novel that does have some well executed aerial combat sequences that will positively, without doubt, hold your interest. Fallout would also be excellent as an action movie.

Related Reviews

The unabridged audiobook edition of Fallout can be purchased, or rented, dirctly from Blackstone Audiobooks. It is availbe on CDs and auido cassettes.
Fallout is also available in a hardcover, standard print edition.

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