Sunday, July 12, 2015

This Space Available Strikes Back: Summer 2015 Space Book Roundup

Did you miss me? 2014 photo at Kennedy Space Center, me with the Interstellar spacesuit.

SO I LIED. I said I wasn't going to update this space any longer, but old habits die hard, I guess, and I'm sick of being shy lately. At any rate, there are a great many wonderful spaceflight books that have debuted in 2015. Disclaimer: The ones I'm not giving capsule summaries/reviews of here I probably haven't read or ordered yet, but here is a selection that I've had the opportunity to sample this summer.

At long last, here is This Space Available's Summer 2015 Spaceflight Book Roundup. 

  • Space Careers by Leonard David and Scott Sacknoff, with a foreword by Buzz Aldrin (Gemini 12 and Apollo 11): Many people ask me what it takes to have a career in the space industry, and what education is needed to be part of it. This book covers pretty much everything, from finding the right universities/colleges, space economy, and different career avenues to take from non-technical positions to becoming an astronaut. This book is recommended for those looking to get their foot in the door and workers perhaps looking for a change of scene alike. Mr. David is a longtime space journalist, and Mr. Sacknoff has worked in the space industry variously as an engineer and consultant for decades. He is also the publisher of the wonderful space history journal, Quest: The History of Spaceflight, which is highly recommended reading for all space enthusiasts and budding spaceflight history geeks. Of course, we all know what Buzz Aldrin has been up to for quite some time; he spends more time on Facebook than I do, and that's saying A LOT (but I digress...).

  • Growing Up With Spaceflight, Project Apollo, Part One by Wes Oleszewski: Mr. Oleszewski's book discusses Apollos 1 through 13, and is an often funny view at the world's first human exploration of another world through a young person's eyes. As someone who sadly was not alive during Apollo, this volume gives me a view of what it must have been like to see huge rockets carry men to the Moon during what was truly the Golden Age of Spaceflight. Mr. Oleszewski recently released Volume Two on Kindle; while I have not read it yet, I look forward to experiencing, once again, "The Thunder and The Glory." 

  • Go For Orbit: One of America's First Women Astronauts Finds Her Space by Rhea Seddon: Dr. Rhea Seddon wore the sometimes difficult crown of being a pioneer in two fields: Medicine and spaceflight. Dr. Seddon was one of the first six women astronauts selected in 1978's astronaut group ("The Thirty-Five New Guys"), and also had the unique experience of falling in love with a colleague (Robert "Hoot" Gibson, her husband). This excellent autobiography covers Dr. Seddon's life from her nascent beginnings as a surgeon, to her experiences in spaceflight and as a wife and mother of three in a male-dominated industry. Good-humored and buoyant, Dr. Seddon brings the Space Shuttle era to life, and reminds the reader why it's truly brave not just to launch on the back a spaceship, but to do something "first" when everyone is watching. 

  • Blue Gemini: A Thriller by Mike Jenne: 2015 has seen the ascent of the genre of alternative spaceflight histories, and this is one of the finest in the canon. Mr. Jenne's book hearkens back to the 1960s, when plans for secret military space stations were in full effect, and The Cold War was still very much "hot." If you are a Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) and Gemini program obsessive, then you will be interested in checking out this novel. Mr. Jenne himself has an impressive CV: A licensed pilot, he is a former Special Forces officer. A sequel to this novel, Blue Darker Than Black, is scheduled to arrive in early 2016.

  • Zero Phase: Apollo 13 on the Moon and Public Loneliness: Yuri Gagarin's Circumlunar Flight, both by Gerald Brennan: Do not be fooled by these slim volumes, and no spoilers here, but you need to get these two books; they are among the finest alternative spaceflight histories I've ever read. The titles pretty much cover the books' main focus, but the mix of technical know-how and emotional build-up is impressive. These books are also available on Kindle, and I believe (I HOPE) Mr. Brennan is working on more alternate spaceflight histories. He will most certainly have an audience here. 


Note: These capsule reviews reflect my opinions only.

Do you have any newer spaceflight books you'd like to recommend? Please feel free to do so in the comments, and happy summer reading!