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The Webfooted Astronomer - November 2001

 

From the Presidentís Pen . . . The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly

By Mary Ingersoll

AS the nights get cooler, and the clouds create a fluffy canopy that not only covers us like a downy featherbed, but prevents us from seeing anything above 40 feet, it looks like a great time to go book shopping. My favorite stores are not Nordstrom or Bon Marche, but Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Iíve also had a few adventures going through second-hand bookstores like Half-Price Books. The last two gems I found there were: 365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo, (a mini-Jack Horkheimer ďwhatís in the sky tonight?Ē style, large format with lots of drawings) and Blueprint for Space, Science Fiction to Science Fact a collection of essays from Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Collins to Sally Ride and Wernher von Braun.

I also picked up a copy of Back to the Moon by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. (author of Rocket Boys a.k.a. October Sky). Hickam is a retired NASA engineer having worked at the launching facility at Cape Canaveral. The book starts out strong with lots of plot twists as the space shuttle is hijacked, refitted in orbit and then heads to the Moon with a tense love-hate relationship developing between male hijacker and female mission specialist. The second half of the book starts suffering with a convoluted international conspiracy (headed by environmentalist/humanist/oil barons) and the memories of a dead woman loved by two men. Then thereís the fanatical/killer/feminist commander of the shuttle who wants revenge on the hijacker. She was just too way over the line. Instead of coming across like a female Terminator, she was more like an irritating pest. My recommendation: leave it on the shelf unless you are really bored and the TVís in the shop.

If you have a good book you have read lately, send me the title and author and a short review. Iíll print up a short list of the best of the best in a future newsletter. Also, if you have read a real stinker send the data on it too, Iíll compile a list of ďWarning: do not read these.Ē Send to: Mary Ingersoll, PO Box 871, Seahurst WA 98062 or e-mail to missioncontrol13@juno.com.

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