Medallion, Oct 2008, $15.95
Over a century ago, the aliens sent a message to earth from the Scorpios Constellation offering advanced space travel if the humans prove worthy. The earthlings build Leapfrog, appropriately named for the quantum leap in science and technology, to meet the aliens. However, the Federation Secret Dervice takes over the mission killing the General in charge. With no thoughts of sharing with others, Earth proves lacking to the aliens and fails the test.
Ten thousand plus years later, the crew of the Leapfrog begins to revive from cryogenic sleep. Kim Finch takes charge and sends to the sun those officers who destroyed the mission. As they near earth they receive no signal. They soon learn of a man made virus and a nuclear assault. The humanoids on the planet are cannibalistic Neanderthal, but are not top of the food chain; that is crocs with brain power superior to the crew of Leapfrog. With the ship deteriorating, the humans need a safe place to land, but none seem available as the crocs seem to be in every fresh water locale and they have skills beyond the capability of the new two-legged intruders.
LEAPFROG is a fascinating futuristic science fiction thriller that grips readers from the moment humans fail to meet the simple standard set by the technologically superior aliens of sharing the benefits bestowed to earthlings. The action is fast-paced and never slows down as the humans return to earth to confront two new lethal species and the realization that mankind no longer is at the top of the food chain. The prime cast is solid as they make difficult decisions to stay alive. Although a side trip to the moon brings an exciting deadly third species that sequence feels unnecessary as it adds little to the prime objective: survival on an earth when the top dog is a physically and mentally superior species.