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Back to the Moon: A Novelby Homer H. Hickam
Synopses & Reviews
This I have known always: love is no more
Than the wide blossom which the wind assails,
Than the great tide that treads the shifting shore,
Strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales.
Pity me that the heart is slow to learn
What the swift mind beholds at every turn.
--Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Pity Me Not"
LAUNCH MINUS 5 MONTHS, 13 DAYS, 14 HOURS, AND COUNTING . . . Prometheus MEC Clean Room, Hangar 1-D, Cedar Key, Florida
"NASA is and always has been a subversive organization. Anything else you hear is a public relations lie," Jack Medaris said.
Dr. Isaac Perlman looked at the ceiling of the big hangar and wagged his head from side to side, an indication of his doubt at his companion's comment. "Subversive? Why, Jack, there's never been a more conservative bureaucracy on this planet. It takes polls to see what it should do next. It lets politicians decide technical matters. You forget I went there first for my moon dirt. NASA just laughed at me. That's why I hired you "
Medaris and Perlman, dressed in clean-room regalia--white one-piece coveralls, puffy plastic hats, and latex gloves--were watching a dozen other similarly clothed men and women ministering to what looked to be a giant robot, two gangly arms akimbo, mounted on a go-cart. The doleful strains of Barber's Adagio for Strings accompanied the technicians as they moved slowly and reverently around the machine's oddly shaped pyramid of spheres, rods, and cables. Antennae protruded from each level of the machine. Its "arms" were actually two extendable and jointed booms. At the end of one of the booms was a digger, a rakelike device. The other arm had a grasping claw.
"I'll grant you NASA as a bureaucracy is timid," Jack said. "But what I'm talking about is its charter. NASA is supposed to develop the means to allow American citizens to leave the planet. Leave, Doc What could be more seditious than that? If NASA ever does what it's supposed to do, Americans are going to be flying all over the solar system. Where there's Americans, there's trouble. It's in our nature to cause trouble, challenge authority, kick up our heels, and be ornery. You think it's going to be any different in space? Just you wait. It'll be a sight to behold "
Perlman kept shaking his head. "No, no, no, Jack." He laughed. "Nothing of the kind will ever be done. You're talking about Americans the way they used to be. We're too fat and happy now. No American is going to get in a rocket ship and take off into the wild blue yonder. Why, they'd miss Monday Night Football "
Jack grinned. He enjoyed debating with Perlman. None of it was serious, just lighthearted philosophizing to offset the boredom of watching his engineers prepare for the final flight-readiness test of the robotic moon miner--Prometheus, as it was called. Jack owned the company that had built it, the Medaris Engineering Company, MEC for short. After the accident that had killed his wife, and the investigation that had resulted in his banishment from NASA, MEC had become the most important thing in Jack Medaris's life. An invention of his called the sling pump, used in almost every liquid rocket tankage system in the world, had made Jack wealthy and MEC
In 2002, Jack Medaris--a brilliant, troubled scientist funded by a mysterious consortium--hijacks the Columbia space shuttle before its last routine mission and heads for the moon. By the author of Rocket Boys. Tour.
A cosmic romp in which Jack Medaris, a former astronaut who is a widower, saves the female crew of a NASA spaceship from an attack by chauvinist astronauts. The ladies take him to the moon, he finds romance and brings back a rare helium element which will help his business.
About the Author
Homer H. Hickam, Jr., was born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia. The author of Torpedo Junction, a Military History Book of the Month Club selection, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Smithsonian Air and Space and American History Illustrated, he is a NASA payload training manager for the International Space Program and lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
From the Paperback edition.
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