cover image The Astronaut’s Son

The Astronaut’s Son

Tom Seigel. Woodhall, $25.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-9975437-8-0

Seigel’s solid debut provides an intriguing and plausible variant on moon landing conspiracy theories. In 2004, Jonathan Stein announces that his private company, Apollo Aeronautics, aims to launch a manned mission to the moon led by Jonathan himself. Decades earlier, Jonathan’s Israeli astronaut father, Avi, was part of the flight crew for NASA’s last moon expedition, but he died from a heart attack before launch. Shortly after Jonathan’s announcement, his wife finds an online posting by someone identified only as Cassandra, who alleges that Avi was actually the victim of a murder plot. The conspiracy was initiated by Nazi scientists working on the U.S. space program who could not stomach a Jew being on one of the rockets they had developed. Though Jonathan initially believes that Cassandra is trying to turn Avi into a “pseudo-martyr for a band of crackpots,” his digging leads him in a different direction. Equally strong on plotting and characterization, Seigel does better than many other thriller writers in making his lead’s pain and uncertainty about the past palpable. (Sept.)