Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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The Aphelion Review

Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281
By Stephanie Osborn

Review by Dan L. Hollifield

Burnout Cover

Type of music/work:

Sci-fi / Mystery novel.


Stephanie Osborn


Published by Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 978-1-60619-200-9
Cover illustration by Darrell Osborn

General impressions of the album/book:

I was hooked on the story before I reached the end of the second page. By the end of the first chapter I couldn't put the book down!


The characters are written so well you'd swear that you already know them, you just haven't seen them in a while. They're that real and true to life. The story itself is one of those perfect mixes of action, character development, clues to the mystery that are well placed but not obvious, a dash of romance, a sprinkling of conspiracy theory- all of which is set against a backdrop of real and are-you-sure-it-isn't-real science. The globe-spanning locations are described well enough to give the reader a mental image of each, yet Ms. Osborn doesn't overwhelm the readers with lumps of too-detailed set dressing. Striking just the right balance, the description paints a very effective picture for the imagination of the reader.

The pacing draws the reader in as each scene builds upon those that came before. The dashes of foreshadowing are exactly right; not too much, not too little. The dialog is entirely natural, not forced. People actually talk the way these characters do. Realism abounds in every line. As the mystery unfolds, the reader sees how the clues fit together and how the hero turns the puzzle pieces this way and that until they *do* fit together. The danger to the heroes is believable, relentless, and you want to jump up out of your chair and cheer each time the heroes have a narrow escape. Likewise, when the villains get the upper hand, you want to leap into the action yourself, just to help the heroes when they need a hand. The story is just that real, that gripping. After only a very few pages you'll forget that it's a novel, that you're reading a book as the story plays out in your mind's eye. Ms. Osborn's descriptive talents are put to good use- As if the words were pigments on the palette of an artist and the story a grand portrait, rich in detail, pleasing color, and perfect in composition.

Stephanie Osborn has got the gift. This is a wonderful novel. Try it, you won't regret it.

Background info:

Stephanie Osborn is a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. She has worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resume'. Of those astronauts she trained, one was Kalpana Chawla, a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.

She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and she is "fluent" in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. She obtained her various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Stephanie is currently retired from space work. She now happily "passes it forward," tutoring math and science to students in the Huntsville area, elementary through college, while writing science fiction mysteries based on her knowledge, experience, and travels.

Buy it at:


Barnes & Noble

Twilight Times Books

Review © 2009 Dan L. Hollifield

Dan Hollifield is the Senior Editor and Publisher of Aphelion.

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