Challenger Park

Stephen Harrigan, Author . Knopf $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-375-41205-9

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.)

Reviewed on: 01/23/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-2518-6
Open Ebook - 302 pages - 978-0-307-26474-9
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