At the novel's center: Lucy Kincheloe, an astronaut married to an astronaut, the loving mother of two young children, with a fierce ambition to excel in the space program. Her husband, Brian, a rigorous man whose dreams of glory have been blighted by two star-crossed missions. And Walt Womack, the steady, unflappable leader of the training team that prepares Lucy for her first shuttle flight.
Lucy has devoted years of intense and focused effort to win her place on a mission, but as her lifelong dream of flying in space comes true, her familiar world appears to be falling apart around her. Her marriage is deteriorating. Her son's asthma is growing more serious. Her relationship with Walt Womack is becoming dangerously intimate. And when at last she is in space, 240 miles above the earth, and an accident renders the world she left behind appallingly distant, perhaps unreachable, her spirit is tested in gripping and unexpected ways.
In The Gates of the Alamo, Stephen Harrigan's narrative authority brought a vanished 19th-century Texas to vibrant life. In Challenger Park, he does the same with the world of space flight, bringing us up close to the lives, the risks, the friendships, the rituals, and the training of the astronauts and the people who work with them. Harrigan has written an exciting, indeed a thrilling, novel about the contrary pulls of home and adventure, reality and dreams, and the unimaginable experience, the joys and terrors and revelations, of space flight itself.
©2006 Stephen Harrigan; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"A fine, absorbing achievement, probably the best science-factual novel about the space-faring worlds of Houston and Cape Canaveral in the nearly half-century since the first astronauts were chosen." (New York Times Book Review)
I love a good-fi story, this isn't it.
I also love a good action story. Again, this isn't it.
I am not a big fan of sappy romance stories with shallow side relationships (that of Walt and his 'best' friend).
For me, this bordered on being offensive, it stradles the line between condoning adultery and condemning it. All of the characters seem like shallow stereotypes and the dialogue is dreadful.
My wife loves to watch "Lifetime" movies and I hate to admit I've sat through one or two with her. The best thing I can say about this book is that it would make a wonderful "Lifetime" movie. Or about as wonderful as a "Lifetime" movie ever is. So... if you enjoy "Lifetime" movies, you will, more than likely, enjoy this book.
Another plus is the narrator, he did a wonderful job.
The book is well worth listening too, especially for women who are trying to be super moms with indifferent self-absorbed husbands, and people who are interested in the space program. The details are amazing and seem dead on.
The book was inches from being great. I struggled to figure out why. Her children seemed a bit too needy- wouldn't they have been raised to be proud that Mom was an astronaut rather than everyone being apologetic? Wouldn't Lucy have been more focused and thrilled with being in space- and in earning a huge place in the pantheon?
In the end, I think the author conveyed the operations, but not the wonder, of space.
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