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The Passage [Mass Market Paperback]

David Poyer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 15 1997 Dan Lenson Novels (Book 4)
The Navy's most sophisticated destroyer, the USS Barrett carries a top-secret computer that can pilot an unmanned ship and send it into battle. As the weapons officer charged with its first mission Lieutenant Dan Lenson has a chance to make naval history.

But when the system develops a sinister virus and a sailor takes his own life amid ugly allegations, Lenson finds himself caught in a web of betrayal. Now, on the treacherous Windward Passage between the U.S. and Cuba, he'll undergo the ultimate test of honor and faith-- one that could cost him his career, his ship, and even his life.

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From Publishers Weekly

Poyer's powerful fourth adventure featuring U.S. Naval officer Dan Lenson (The Circle, etc.) opens aboard a doomed submarine off Siberia, then focuses on Lenson's new assignment on the newly commissioned USS Barrett, which is bound for Guantanamo Bay for a shakedown and training mission. The Barrett is a troubled ship, not least because of the suspected homosexuality of Commander Thomas Leighty, and her troubles worsen with the loss overboard of a gay crewman whose diary implicates the captain. Meanwhile, Lenson isn't in such good shape himself. With his marriage broken and his career tottering on the brink of disaster (these events are chronicled in previous books), he is emotionally shattered and prone to excessive drinking. When the Barrett is sidetracked on a rescue mission to aid a flotilla of Cuban refugee vessels caught in violent seas, Lenson's path crosses briefly with that of pregnant refugee Graciela Gutierrez. In the book's most dramatic and moving passages, as Gutierrez gives birth during a horrendous storm, Lenson begins to regain his moral compass. The complex main plot, which also involves espionage, isn't resolved until a mutinous confrontation just off the Cuban shore; and even then, most readers of this stirring tale will be sorry to see it end.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This fourth of Poyer's excellent Dan Lenson novels deals, not unexpectedly, with the naval officer hero's experience aboard a Spruance-class destroyer in the Caribbean. Lenson comes to this ship, a brand-new one with a highly automated weapons system, in the wake of the breakup of his marriage. As if this were not heavy enough baggage to port, he quickly encounters a sailor's suicide, a gay commanding officer, sabotage of the computer systems, being cast adrift in a homemade boat with a refugee Cuban woman giving birth, a rescue by a Russian destroyer, a whole shipload of Cuban refugees, a riot in Miami, and--climactically--mutiny, murder, and confrontation with the same Russian destroyer. Poyer balances hardware description and an extremely well drawn cast of characters with enormous skill. He handles the subplot concerning the voyage of the Cuban refugees particularly well. He makes one hope this is not the last Dan Lenson novel, all the more because the first four together constitute one of the outstanding bodies of nautical fiction in English during the last half-century. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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3.0 out of 5 stars Passage June 26 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book eventually rewards a patient reader, but it's quite an ordeal to get there.
Poyer is using the device here of an unpleasant character who learns and grows through his experiences in the story. Dan Lenson, the hero, is shallow and unable to engage meaningfully with others. One of the themes of the book is the process by which he learns to connect with his fellow human beings. But it takes a long time, and he's a jerk for much of the story.
In a year I make to be about 1981, the USS Barrett is an experimental warship with a computer program that can fight the ship essentially in autopilot. Lenson is an officer on the ship. Not only are there severe technical problems with the computer system, but there are various rumblings of discontent within the crew. This plot thread is interspersed with the story of Graciela, a pregnant Cuban woman who tries to escape the island in a refugee boat. The plot develops slowly, and though the climactic portions are exciting, they take a long time to show up. Because of the year, some of the plot seems dated, as when the computer whiz figures out what a computer virus is: realistic for the time, but not very exciting from the perspective of 2002 (the book having been published in 1995).
Poyer was exploring the issue of homophobia here, and so the reader has to sit through lengthy revelations of ugly bigotry on the part of various characters. While the dirty stories and nasty attitudes are no doubt realistic, they weren't fun to read. Likewise, though the main antagonist, Harper, is believable in his ugly sexism and crudity, I didn't enjoy reading about him. Eventually, Poyer comes across with a genuinely heroic homosexual character, but as with other aspects of the book, the reader has to suffer for a long time first.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth instalment in the saga of Navy officer Dan Lenson, started with *The Circle*, but it seems to be set before the actions of *The Gulf*, and right after *The Med*. Lenson is now a lieutenant abord destroyer USS *Barrett*, working as weapons officer. The newly built destroyer has a new computer system that enables her to operate in a crowded battlefield as a robot war machine, but since the beginning of trainings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the computer system starts to present problems and the reader feels that there might be a sabotage act going on. Poyer first-hand understanding of Navy things and proceedings, and perhaps also his experience as a science fiction writer, give a lot of credibility to the computer-virus plot and computer warfare situations. Meanwhile there is a homossexual situation going on on *Barrett*, and that is triggered by the suicide of a crewman and the discovery of his diary, in which he claims to have had sexual intercourse with the ship's skipper, commander Leighty. The "gay plot" resounds with Lenson's present moment of doubts and trouble with new sexual and sentimental relationships, after his divorce with Sue. The gay elements are dealt with an amazing skill and smoothness, even though Poyer keeps telling you Navy gay-jokes to characterize gay-bashing in the force, and all the gay characters are endowned with great dignity. Another narrative line pursues the fate and deeds of a Cuban refugee, Graciela , and her friend from a Cuban village. They all plunge into the sea, heading for the U.S., but Graciela is now pregnant from the first baby-boy of her newly released husband. But now he is dead and she is carrying the baby into a crowded raft that is heading to a storm. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another grpping Naval story from David Poyer Nov. 25 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In The Circle, Poyer deals with corruption on a naval vessel, as his protagonist, then-ensign Lenson, confronts the difference between what he learned at the Naval Academy and the real Navy. The Med explores careerism. In The Passage, Poyer treats, inter alia, homosexuality in the military, and his treatment of this subject is as nuanced as his always-realistic characters, and also satisfying. As always, Poyer's descriptions are vivid and involving. I have always enjoy Poyer's books, but sometimes his endings haven't risen to the level of the body of his works--a small quibble for such good writing. Yet The Passage has a very tense, gripping resolution. I highly recommend this book.
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