Another novel from Nance (Fire Flight, 2003, etc.) about manly men doing manly things in their marvelous flying machines.
This time it’s the saga of a spaceflight gone bad in a book that will inspire gasps and groans in roughly equal measure. A middle-aged pharmaceutical salesman with four kids and a second wife he’s none too crazy about, Kip Dawson was never meant to fly a spaceship. He’s just up in orbit as the winner of a contest put on by private aeronautics enterprise American Space Adventures. When his pilot gets killed by a speck of space debris, though, Kip finds himself floating above the earth all alone. Meanwhile, back below the clouds, the political infighting starts as the president and other players decide just what sort of rescue mission to mount. These bureaucratic battles are some of the book’s most engaging scenes. Considerably less compelling are the autobiographical musings Kip unwittingly transmits to the rest of the planet—leading to a storyline that reads like an Oprah episode lost in space. Nance does, however, manage to keep things moving—barely giving the reader a chance to follow the hackneyed plot. And Kip’s landing attempt near the end makes for a sequence that’s worthy of applause.
Not quite the right stuff, but passable as a guilty pleasure.