Space. Nazis. In The Future! I didn’t think there was much new ground that The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction, Jeremy Robinson, had left to cover. I was wrong. He hadn’t covered space Nazis in the future yet, and that has now been corrected in truly awesome fashion. This one has everything you would expect from a tale of late 80s Special Forces soldiers being thrust 1,000 years into a future where the Nazis eventually came back, destroyed Earth… and are trying to take over the entire galaxy. Some Firefly, a good dose of WALL-E, and a few key callbacks to other previous Robinson books (easily explained in context, but then you’re going to want to go read those books too 🙂 ). And a pair of significant cameos at the end that could signal that Robinson is FINALLY about to give us another Avengers Level Event soon! All told, one of Robinson’s more fun books to date, which is saying quite a bit, and very much recommended.
Fascinating. This book is from a guy that started in NASA in the era right after Apollo and seemingly left right as SpaceX and the other private space agencies were finding their first successes. It is highly technical, yet also very approachable – Dye actively tries to explain as much of his “NASA-speak” (his term) as possible while not getting bogged down in too many details. This covers the entirety of his 40 ish years in NASA, from his first days as a co-op student through his last years planning the recovery missions should a Shuttle be stranded in space in the years after the Columbia disaster. Great insight and sometimes hilarious stories, though it ultimately suffers from the same bad taste of an ending that soured Kranz’s Failure Is Not An Option. In its final chapter, it more often comes across as a bitter old man not understanding the new dynamics of the agency he helped mold, rather than as someone truly hopeful for the future of space exploration and what the promise of the new and immediately future eras. Still, a truly worthy read from one of the people who doesn’t have the name recognition of a Kranz or a Chris Kraft, but who was arguably just as important in getting NASA to where it is today. Very much recommended.
This week, we’re looking at a lone-survivor-in-space book from a debut author that could give still-new author Andy Weir’s The Martian a run for its money. This week, we’re looking at Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols.
This story is basically a combination of a psychological thriller ala say Dete Meserve’s The Space Between with a lone-survivor-of-space-disaster science fiction ala the aforementioned The Martian by Andy Weir, with a sense of a dash of Interstellar thrown in – all without going into really any techno-speak beyond the bare minimum necessary for such a story. Thus, it is very approachable for anyone from any background, and indeed it works very well as a very real introduction to how NASA tends to operate in real life, for better and for worse.
That’s right. This particular reader has somewhat followed NASA for most of his life, including reading several memoirs and biographies of different personnel over the last year in particular, and this story really gets what working at Johnson Space Center as an Astronaut is really like, almost as though Nichols has read the same memoirs and biographies I have. Thus, there is just enough realism to this admittedly science fiction tale to add that extra degree of gravitas to the entire story, and in the end that makes a big difference.
If you enjoyed The Martian or Interstellar, you really should give this book a try. It really is a solid effort in those lines. Even if you didn’t particularly enjoy those efforts, give this one a shot – particularly if it was their more technical elements you didn’t enjoy as much. Simply a truly stunning book that you really need to drop everything else and read.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Kluger does an excellent job with writing the narrative of this distinctively NON-fiction story with the skill of a solid thriller author. While Apollo 11 would eventually overpower 8, and one of 8’s crewmen would become far more famous for Apollo 13, neither of those missions happens without someone being the first to actually get to lunar orbit and make sure their spacecraft can survive the trip. And Kluger does an excellent job of revealing all of the people invovled and putting them in the proper context while showing both the very real perils and how the various people handled those perils. If you’re interested in man leaving the planet at all, this is a must read book.
Infinite is easily Robinson’s most mind-bending work yet. With his masterful as always story telling, he introduces concepts that lead you to question everything about… well, everything. Admittedly written during times when he was going through some pretty intense drama in his real life, Robinson turns his own questions into one of his all around best works yet. While other Robinson works have had better focus on action and adventure, and there is still plenty of that here (including an opening scene of our protagonist being repeatedly killed), this book uses the action to set the space (literally) for the questions to be explored. And this, to my mind, is what contributes to it being all the stronger for it. There is still the great deal of escapism that we have come to expect from Robinson, yet there is also the much deeper questioning, should we decide to go there in our own heads.
And the ending… well, that might be the single most mind bending part of the entire story.