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book cover of Charon\'s Ark

Charon's Ark

A novel by

A planeload of high-school students, their teacher, and the airliner's crew are hijacked in midair by an alien spacecraft. The aliens take them to their crazily-malfunctioning starship Ark, which we know as the planet Pluto and its moon Charon.
Sixty-five million years ago, the Ark came to Earth to collect plants and animals. It was ship-wrecked and stranded in our solar system. Now its alien crew intends to force the teenagers to learn to operate the Ark, so it can continue on its multi-billion year mission of sowing life among the stars.
The humans are flabbergasted of course, but life-change is not unwelcome to two of them. One is copilot Froward, whose drinking, womanizing, and general fecklessness are about to cost him his career.
The other is misfit student Charlie Freeman, a 'casualty on the battlefield of puberty.' He's with the group only by the whim of his teacher, Mrs. Robinelli.
Aboard the plane are two other women who are about to be important in Froward's life: Gershner, the stewardess, who is Froward's lover, and sharp-thinking sixteen-year-old Chela Suarez.
Charlie is intrigued and puzzled by the aliens' ineptitude. He is contacted by a sinister new entity: the Proctor. The Proctor offers Charlie knowledge, power, and prom queen Eva Wilcox, in return for helping the aliens obtain the students' cooperation. Charlie, intending to subvert everything and return to Earth a hero, grabs the opportunity.
Can the hijacked students and adults overcome the dinosaur-infested wilderness of Charon, evade the murderous blundering aliens, and exploit the vast inexplicable Ark technology? Can they do it in time to save Earth from destruction by the monomaniacal Proctor?
Charon's Ark was first published in 1987 by Del Rey Books. It is the first volume of the Charon's Ark Trilogy. Its two sequels, Charon's Children and Charon Is Coming, will soon appear on Kindle.
The author's illustrations for the novels may be seen at If you go to the site, beware of spoilers!


Used availability for Rick Gauger's Charon's Ark

Paperback Editions

July 1987 : USA Mass Market Paperback

Title: Charon's Ark
Author(s): Richard Gauger
ISBN: 0-345-31773-4 / 978-0-345-31773-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Del Rey
Availability: Amazon