My memory is playing tricks. I'm trying to remember a novel I read probably late 90s, early 2000s.

Set in roughly modern day. Space station orbiting Earth is a secondary objective in the plot because it has some ability to interfere with the primary objective. A key part of the plot was the commander of the space station was controversial because he had, earlier in his career, been taken hostage in an embassy and caved. The attack was planned around a psychological profile of the commander, expecting him to surrender like before.

I thought it was Dale Brown's Silver Tower but I was wrong. Many of the story beats are the same - space station is a secondary objective because it can interfere with the primary objective of a groundside invasion, read around the same time etc. It's missing the main point about the commander.

A key point of the plot (spoiler):

The commander shows much more backbone than everyone expected. He was misunderstood because the reason he seemed weak during the embassy siege was to play for time, keeping his people alive long enough for rescue. Since no reinforcements are possible at the space station, he is more resilient and aggressive.

1 Answer 1


I believe you're recalling the Ben Bova novel The Peacekeepers (1988). (Which was partially based on the novella "Battle Station" (1987) which sticks in my mind more strongly for some reason.)

The captain of command station Hunter is ex-U.S.N. boat captain Jonathan Hazard. (He's ex-submarine, so the cramped, claustrophobic conditions of the orbital station are almost comfortable for him, except for zero-g.) He was involved in a hostage crisis in Brussels that got him retired from the navy.

Hunter is one of nine command stations controlling orbital lasers, and a group of other station commanders try to stage a world-wide coup by taking all of the orbital stations over so they can dictate terms to the world. Everybody underestimates his courage, determination and ability to lead his small team.

So I finally dug up The Peacekeepers for some quotes, and lo, the chapter "Battle Station Hunter, Year 5" appears to be basically an exact paste-in of "Battle Station." Further, I see how it stuck so poorly in memory; the "novel" is basically a collection of related stories with overlapping characters, set in a simplistic framing device, so really it comes down to how memorable any individual fragment is.

The Brussels hostage crisis:

Captain J. W. Hazard, U.S.N., was not on duty that Sunday, but he was in his office, nevertheless, attending to some paperwork that he wanted out of the way before the start of business on Monday morning. Unarmed, he was swiftly captured by the terrorists, beaten bloody for the fun of it, and then locked in a toilet. When the terrorists realized that he was the highest-ranking officer in the building, Hazard was dragged out and commanded to open the security vault where the most sensitive NATO documents were stored.

Hazard refused. The terrorists began shooting hostages. After the second murder Hazard opened the vault for them. Top-secret battle plans, maps showing locations of nuclear weapons and hundreds of other documents were taken by the terrorists and never found, even after a French-led strike force retook the building in a bloody battle that killed all but four of the hostages.

But the mutineers/coup leaders have misjudged Hazard:

The old submariner's instinct: run silent, run deep. So the bastards think I'll fold up, just like I did at Brussels, Hazard fumed inwardly. Two big differences, Cardillo and friends. Two very big differences. In Brussels the hostages were civilians, not military men and women. And in Brussels I didn't have any weapons to fight back with.

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    Is there a Ben Bova novel based on one or more ealier stories/novellas where the original(s) is (are) not significantly more compelling? They guy was not the best at padding out stories effectively.
    – Buzz
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 16:59
  • Don't you hate it when your brain throws up a random book ... internet to the rescue. Thank you.
    – Alan
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 0:37

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