Richard Penn

Richard Penn is a science fiction author with an unusual approach. His books are set in a near-future Solar System, working from the belief that no radical new science and technology is needed to get people into space, just determination and proper engineering. In the tradition of early works by Robert Heinlein and Arthur Clarke, he faces head-on the technical challenges such pioneers would face: gravity, radiation and extreme isolation. In this realistic scenario, space travel takes many months. He introduces the innovative idea of space travellers using passing asteroids as stepping stones to get to the Belt, the vast area of thousands of asteroids where the main series is set. The books are not severely technical, though. They also address the social and medical problem the settlers would face: how would they keep the peace, regulate their population, and manage the education of their children across such a vast space? The scenario in the books is based on a detailed simulation of the waves of human settlement, using the real movements of asteroids and planets as a framework and with detailed designs for all the ships and stations that appear in the stories.

Asteroid Police Series

This series, so far up to two books, follows the adventures of Lisa Johansen, a young policewoman, starting on the isolated station at Terpsichore where she grew up.

How to Buy

All of Richard's books are available on Amazon, in eBook or paperback form. Amazon Kindle USA< Amazon Kindle UK

The Dark Colony

A crisis arises when the body of an unknown boy is discovered at the space station, and the leaders of the colony are implicated in the crime. Lisa is assigned by the police force on Mars to recruit a team of friends, solve the mystery, and keep the peace on the station. The investigation leads to a secret colony where women and children are being kept as slaves, so Lisa and her team are assigned to deal with that threat. Before they can do anything, they need to devise and build a ship from the equipment available at the station.

Freedom at Feronia

In The Dark Colony , Lisa and her team captured a ship and rescued children, who need to be returned to Mars. They were kidnapped from there years ago, and their parents are waiting for them. Along the way, the team are assigned to deal with a rogue colony, where the station on the asteroid Feronia has been taken over by fundamentalist Christians. These fanatics have cut their half of the colony off from the rest of the System, creating a servant class whose rights are not respected. The Asteroid Police want the colony brought back together, but with limited resources Lisa will need to rely more on intelligence than on force.

Steps to Space Series

This series of novellas is set in the nearer future, at the time when private individuals and small groups take space travel over from governments and big corporations. They are going to space with the intention of living there permanently, using the resources they find in space rather than shipping everything up from Earth. This series is aimed squarely at young people with an interest in science and engineering, hoping to get more interest in building things for space.

Spacetug Copenhagen

In the first book, a small group of hands-on engineers in Denmark build a spacetug, a two-man boat capable of doing useful work in Earth orbit. Marius Kristiansen is the young engineer who built the boat and shipped it to orbit on an unmanned rocket. Using an orbiting tourist hotel as a jumping-off point, he and his naval-captain colleague set up a repair and reclamation business, taking in abandoned satellites, returning them to use or mining them for spare parts to build more boats.

Caverns at Procellarum

The second Steps to Space book takes us to the point where our private space colony makes the "giant leap" to the surface of the Moon, rescuing an abandoned Chinese colony and setting up the first mining stations. A visit to the Apollo 12 site is thrown in, just for sentiment.

Mutiny Near Earth

An experienced spacer now, Corinne carries on this account, describing the first major asteroid-mining expedition, with mostly Indian officers and crew. Can her rough-and-ready style work with the authoritarian approach of her bosses? And what is that Federation drone doing?