Voyage

Voyage

4.0 23
by Stephen Baxter
     
 

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The space mission of a lifetime

An epic saga of America's might-have-been, Voyage is a powerful, sweeping novel of how, if President Kennedy had lived, we could have sent a manned mission to Mars in the 1980s. Imaginatively created from the true lives and real events, Voyage returns to the geniuses of NASA and the excitement of the Saturn

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Overview

The space mission of a lifetime

An epic saga of America's might-have-been, Voyage is a powerful, sweeping novel of how, if President Kennedy had lived, we could have sent a manned mission to Mars in the 1980s. Imaginatively created from the true lives and real events, Voyage returns to the geniuses of NASA and the excitement of the Saturn rocket, and includes historical figures from Neil Armstrong to Ronald Reagan who are interwoven with unforgettable characters whose dreams mirror the promise of a young space program that held the world in thrall. There is: Dana, the Nazi camp survivor who achieves the dream of his hated masters; Gershon, the Vietnam fighter jock determined to be the first African-American to land on another planet; and Natalie York, the brilliant geologist/astronaut who risks a career and love for the chance to run her fingers through the soil of another world.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Tom Clancy meets Tom Wolfe as newcomer Baxter crams a shifting cast of dozens into this obsessively researched revision of the American space program, the payoff for which is a manned landing on Mars.

Back in the late '60s, with Kennedy dead and Nixon in the White House, the country's appetite for interplanetary exploration waned. The next step after the Apollo missions was a voyage to Mars, but NASA was pulled back. Baxter imagines what might have happened if Kennedy had lived and cajoled the nation into visiting the Red Planet. He anchors his relentlessly propulsive narrative on three characters: Gregory Dana, a scientist and concentration camp survivor who detests the German rocket scientists' affection for Big Science, preferring a more elegant (and less costly) route to Mars; Ralph Gershon, an African-American astronaut on the Mars missions; and Natalie York, a geologist who escapes two importunate lovers—one a nuclear rocket scientist, the other an astronaut—to make her awkward way Marsward. The story deftly incorporates the history of the actual Apollo missions, making the mission to Mars seem a natural outgrowth of the moon landings. Indeed, the mission ultimately ends up looking a lot like the Moon program: York, Gershon, and the third astronaut, mission commander Phil Stone, are stuffed into a rickety can for the long journey, then blasted into space. The author does a nice job of focusing on his three astronauts' individual experiences of the trip. Perhaps more dazzling than the voyage, though, is the imagined high tech that gets Americans to Mars. Baxter adroitly passes off science fiction as (detailed) science fact. Technophiles will find this endlessly appealing; sci-fi devotees will appreciate the sly Star Trek and 2001 references. For a little tragic juice, there's even a fair emulation of the Apollo 13 accident, though with decidedly different results.

A wonderful, patriotic tale of lost possibility. Calling Ron Howard.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062093684
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/24/2011
Series:
NASA Trilogy , #1
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
784
Sales rank:
141,964
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Mission ElapsedTime [Day/Hr:Min:Sec]

Minus 000/00:00:08

In their orange pressure suits, York, Gershon, and Stone were jammed together so close they were rubbing elbows. They were shielded from daylight; small fluorescent floods lit up the Command Module's cramped cabin.

There was a powerful thump. York, startled, glanced at her crewmates.

"Fuel pumps," Stone said.

York heard a dull rumbling—like faraway thunder—a shudder that transmitted itself through the padded couch to her body.

Hundreds of feet below York, liquid oxygen and hydrogen were rushing together, mingling in the big first-stage engines' combustion chambers.

She could feel her heartbeat rising, clattering within her chest. Take it easy, damn it.

A small metal model of a cosmonaut, squat and Asiatic, dangled from a chain fixed above her head. This was Boris, the gift from Vlad Viktorenko. The toy swung back and forth, its grotesque features leering at her out of a sketch of a helmet. Good luck, Bah-reess.

The noise began, cacophonous, a steady roar. It was like being inside the mouth of some huge, bellowing giant.

Phil Stone shouted, "All five at nominal. Stand by for the stretch."

The five liquid rocket engines of the Saturn VB booster's first stage, the MS-IC, had ignited a full eight seconds ahead of the enhanced Saturn's four Solid Rocket Boosters. And next came the "Stretch, " as the stack reached up under the pressure of that immense thrust. She could feel the ship pushing upward, hear the groan of strained metal as the joints of the segmented solid boosters flexed.

It was all supposed tohappen this way. But still...Jesus. What a design.

Stone said, "Three, two. SRB ignition."

They were committed. The solid boosters were big firecrackers; once the SRBs were ignited, nothing could stop them until they burned out.

"Clock is running—"

Zero.

There was a jolt: mild, easy. The explosive pins holding down the boosters had snapped.

Nothing as heavy as a Saturn VB was going to leap into the air.

The cabin started to shake, the couch restraints and fittings rattling.

"Climbout," Stone said evenly. "Here we go."

Ralph Gershon whooped. "Roger! Going full bore!"

Liftoff. Good God. I'm off the ground.

She felt excitement surge in her, the grainy reality of the motion pressed in on her. "Poyekhali!" she shouted. Let's go!—the spontaneous cry of an excited Yuri Gagarin.

The lurching continued.

York was thrown against her harness, to the right, and then to the left, so that she jammed up against Gershon.

The Saturn VB was inching its way upward past the launch tower, almost skittishly, its automated controls swiveling its five first-stage engines to correct for wind shear. Right, left, forward, back, in a series of spasmodic jerks hard enough to bruise her.

No simulation had even hinted at the violence. It was like riding out of an explosion.

"Access arm," Stone called. "Clear of the tower."

John Young, Houston capcom for the launch, came on line.

"Ares, Houston. Copy. You are clear of the tower."

York felt a lurch forward. The whole stack had pitched over; she was sitting up in her couch, the huge rattling thrust of the first stage pushing at her back.

"Houston, we have a good roll program,," Stone said.

"Roger the roll."

The Saturn was arcing over the Florida coast, toward the Atlantic.

Down there on the beaches, she knew, children had written huge good luck messages into the Florida sand. GODSPEED ARES. York looked up and to her right, toward the tiny square window there. But there was nothing to see. They were cocooned; the boost protective cover, a solid cone, lay over the Command Module, blocking out the daylight.

The Command Module's interior was the size of a small car. It was small, dingy, mechanical, metallic. Very 1960s, York thought. The walls, painted gray and yellow,, were studded with gauges, dials, control switches, and circuit breakers. There were 'scraps of notes, from the crew to themselves, and emergency checklists, and hundreds of tiny round-cornered squares of blue Velcro stuck to the walls.

The three crew couches were just metal frames with canvas supports. York lay on her back, in the Command Module's right-hand seat. Stone, as commander, was in the left-hand seat; Ralph Gershon was in -the center couch. The main hatch was behind Gershon's head, with big chunky levers on its inside, like a submarine's hatch.

"Ares, Houston. You're right smack-dab on the trajectory."

"Roger, John," Stone said. "This baby is really going.""Roger that."

"Go, you mother," Gershon shouted. "Shit hot!" York could hear his voice shaking with the oscillation.

"Ten thousand and point five Mach," Young said.

Point five Mach. Less than thirty seconds into the mission, and I'm already hitting half the speed of sound.

John Young didn't sound scared, or nervous. just another day at the office for him.

John had ridden around the Moon in Apollo 10, back in 1969; and if the later Apollos hadn't been canned, he probably would have commanded a mission to the lunar surface.

In fact, if he hadn't been so critical of NASA following Apollo-N, Young might have been sitting in the cabin himself.

The vibration worsened. Her head rattled in her helmet, like a seed in a gourd. The whole cabin was shaking, and she couldn't focus on the oscillating banks of instruments in front of her.

"Point nine Mach," Stone said. "Forty seconds. Mach one. Going through nineteen thousand."

"Ares, you are go at forty."

Abruptly the ride smoothed out; it was like passing onto a smoother road surface. Even the engine noise was gone; they were moving so fast they were leaving their own sound behind.

"Ares, you're looking good."

"Rog," Stone said. "Okay, we're throttling down."

The engines cut back to ease the stack through max-Q the point when air density and the booster's velocity combined to exert maximum stress on the airframe.

"You are go at throttle up."

"Roger. Go at throttle up."

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Meet the Author

Stephen Baxter is an acclaimed, multiple-award-winning author whose many books include the Xeelee sequence, the Time Odyssey trilogy (written with Arthur C. Clarke), and The Time Ships, a sequel to H. G. Wells's classic The Time Machine. He lives in England.

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Voyage (NASA Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
jth90c More than 1 year ago
While the story moves right along, it's apparent that the role of copy editor has been pushed to the curb. Over and over again in this nook version, simple scanning errors go uncorrected, and it ruins an otherwise fun read. Is the industry really so depressed that they can't afford to pay someone to edit any longer?
FWINPA More than 1 year ago
The book meanders from point to point. I didn't care for the charcters and there were a lots of formatting errors. 1 for I and a period for a comma. I expected better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read, with good science to back it up. I've read many Baxter novels and loved every one. The Nook version, alas, has many, many typos. For example, dozens of places where "Jones" is ")ones". I am new to Nook, and don't know how books are turned into digital content, but if I were the author, I would be embarassed. I wish there were a way to rate content and presentation separately.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Wow at 600 pages this book is way too long and much too detailed. But, it is an interesting story and a good book. The level of typos is awful. It must be all souless machines scanning and uploading books, no educated human would make so many mistakes.
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Clell65619 More than 1 year ago
Baxter looks at the aftermath of the moon landing in 1969 and tweaks history just a little bit, what if rather than choosing the Shuttle program, Richard Nixon had instead pointed NASA toward Mars? Much is gained in this new reality, and sadly much of what we have come to know as NASA's triumphs are lost. No Viking, no Voyager, no Mars Rovers, but two men and one woman on Mary by 1986. Just like we thought there would be when Armstrong was bouncing around on the moon. A triumph of a story. Read it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Voyage is based on the premise that we sent an expedition to Mars in the 1980s, much as NASA proposed we should during the Apollo program. Baxter's version is well told, filled with full blooded charecters, and with more than a little inside info on what really goes on at NASA. As glorious as an expedition to Mars proves to be, it comes at a price. Three more Apollo missions to the Moon are cancelled, there is no shuttle, and and a lot of unmanned missions do not happen. Still, one wonders what a splendid thing people standing on the deserts of Mars in 1986 would have been.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What would have happend had Kennedy survived his assassination attempt, and what if instead of continuous trips to the moon, NASA aimed for Mars? 'Voyage' attempts to answer this as realistically as possible. Could we have made it? More importantly, could NASA do it using technology from the 70's?? According to Stephen Baxter it could have and SHOULD have happened, and since they chose NOT to pursue it, it may never happen now. Switching from the actual voyage to all of the preparation to get there and all of the setbacks NASA encounters 'Voyage' is a superb example of alternate history and how molding historical fact into an accurately depicted fictional setting can achieve an amazing result. Truly one of the better examples of what 'could have been'. If you enjoyed this book, RUN don't walk to grab a hold of David S. Michaels 'Red Moon' quite possibly the GREATEST example of alternate history available today. TRUST me, its even better than 'Voyage'...a LOT better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stephen Baxter has written a fantastic story of the history of NASA that never happened... but could have. This gripping story leads the reader through a might-have-been scenario of a manned voyage to Mars. Baxter has included enough of the actual history of the manned space program and NASA itself to grab the reader and bring him into a world where the choices for the future of space exploration played out differently than our history books. A must for anyone who enjoys science fiction steeped in science fact and not overdone.
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
Poor execution. Lots of hard (technical) science. Little dialog or character development. I couldn't get past 1st 60 pages. Much better read on space progrsm is "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe. Nonfiction more entertaining than fiction! Sad comment on the fiction, isn't it?