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From the author of the acclaimed and best-selling The Gates of the Alamo, a novel of extraordinary power about what it’s like, and what it means, to journey into space as one of today’s astronauts.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. 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 nineteenth-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, 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.From the Hardcover edition.read more
Husband and wife astronauts with two kids. As her marriage hits a rough spot, her son struggles with health problems and she finds herself drawn to her trainer, Lucy goes on her first shuttle mission. I was less intrigued with the characters and family drama than with the finely drawn descriptions of Clear Lake City, Texas (where most moms and dads are connected with the space industry), the astronaut training regimen, and the experience of space flight. This offered some satisfying answers for one who has oftened wondered what the life of an astronaut is really like. Interesting to contemplate how individuals respond to the challenges of training for space, and then living and working there.read more
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This surprisingly weak follow-up to The Gates of the Alamo attempts to document the day-to-day tedium and terrors of astronauts, but slides quickly into a tepid romance. Thirty-something Lucy Kincheloe is waiting for a mission while leading a mundane domestic existence with husband Brian, an astronaut with two missions under his belt, and their two children. When Lucy is assigned a routine resupply of the international space station, the interest of training team leader Walt Womack, a bland, grieving widower, draws Lucy to him, leading to a secret affair, over which there is a lot of hand-wringing but little action. About three-quarters of the way into the novel, a minor accident maroons Lucy on the space station for months, and Lucy's family and Walt are left on Earth to cope. At home and in space, Harrigan dwells on brand names, bodily functions and tech talk; as potential crises are rapidly overcome or forgotten, phrases like "integrated sim" deaden. The book is set two years before the 2003 Columbia disaster, but Christa McAuliffe haunts the book in its title (and tacitly throughout). Nothing that happens comes close to that tragedy, which may be the intention. But making space boring is a dubious achievement. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved