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July 02, 2021

George Ernsberger
Posted 7/2/21

Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings by Earl Swift (Custom House).

Wonderfully enjoyable, exhilarating read (and lots of photos). Everybody old …

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July 02, 2021

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Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings by Earl Swift (Custom House).

Wonderfully enjoyable, exhilarating read (and lots of photos). Everybody old enough to remember that era remembers the life-highlight first landing on the moon, and the harrowing Apollo 13 mission: “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” and certainly the terrible tragedy of Apollo 17. But most of us have forgotten the dramatic, really triumphant, and scientifically rich explorations of the moon’s surface in the lunar rovers, those funny little buggies they rode around in, over an area the size of Manhattan Island (miles of wheel tracks, up there, along with the footprints). This book is technical in stretches (not demandingly so, but detailed) especially in the stories of the design and preparation of the vehicles (first imagined in the 1950s by Wernher von Braun—did I once know that?) but soon becomes adventure-story thrilling.

Double Threat by F. Paul Wilson (Tom Doherty/Forge).

A terrific new thriller by a veteran borderline-s-f writer known to the column mostly for his Repairman Jack series. A likable young woman swindler in desert California finds that she’s sharing her mind with a horrifying (at first) but witty and powerful… um-m…creature? Being? No matter, she and it are very good company, and Wilson is having and providing a great time, again.

Dead by Dawn by Paul Doiron (Minotaur).

The twelfth in this great crime fiction series ( the Maine game warden) and, though it mightn’t be the first time I’ve said this, could be the best ever. It’s high energy, structured more intricately than Doiron’s usual. We open on Bowditch in his Jeep crashing through the icy surface of a river—his tires slashed by spikes planted in the road, so somebody wants him there—and proceed apace, alternating past events with his in-the-moment struggle for survival.

The Sweetest Days by John Hough, Jr. (Gallery).

And on another hand…a novel in which nothing much happens except a long, loving marriage, realistically portrayed, with frights and hurts, but warmth and intimacy, too. The setting is New England (mostly), the style is beautiful but not showy—powerfully evocative without seeming insistent.

Resistance by Val McDermid, Kathryn Briggs (Grove Atlantic/Black Cat).

Strong stuff, this, and more than just timely—a graphic novel (Briggs is the illustrator) in and about a worldwide pandemic, adapted by the great McDermid from her own radio play of a couple of years ago (yes, pre-Covid). It is, then, in no sense “comics”, and not crime fiction, as we expect from McDermid. It’s a sort of compact epic, following the progress of that deadly infection from its first outbreak at a music festival, where we meet a journalist we’ll follow (and whose husband and kids we come to know well, too), as the pandemic grows and spreads.

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