- Series: Blue Gemini (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 556 pages
- Publisher: Yucca Publishing (January 12, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1631580663
- ISBN-13: 978-1631580666
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blue Darker Than Black: A Thriller (Blue Gemini) Hardcover – January 12, 2016
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Tom Clancy and Dan Brown have got nothing on Mike Jenne!”Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
Author Mike Jenne puts you in orbit on a secret mission to keep the Cold War from turning hot. Jenne knows the spaceflight business cold, and this 'deep black' space war scenario will rocket you to the edge of your ejection seatand keep you there.” Tom Jones, veteran NASA astronaut and author of Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir.
Quite a tale! A real page-turner...Nice to see the underdog save the day!” Douglas B. Shane, SpaceShipOne Mission Director
About the Author
Mike Jenne is a licensed pilot, lifelong aerospace aficionado, and amateur space historian. As a child, he felt the ground shudder as the Saturn V moon rockets were tested at the nearby Marshall Space Flight Center. Trained as an Army Ranger and Military Free Fall (HALO) Parachutist, he has served across the globe, including deployments to Africa, Central America, Haiti, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Mike and his wife, Adele, make their home in Trussville, Alabama.
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I engaged with Blue Gemini gradually and reluctantly because books of fiction based on space fact usually disappoint me when they deviate quickly and unapologetically from known space history (an affront to my life-long study of the subject), but I felt obligated to check it out after Jenne announced it on a FaceBook space fan page (not his Blue Gemini page—that came later). The free Kindle sample was not terrible, so I bought the full version. Then, mysteriously, days went by as I was immersed in Scott Ourecky’s world. Jenne gets partial credit for my weight loss this year because of my daily reading intervals on the elliptical machine. I even made notes in the margins and compared the books’ timeline with reality on a spreadsheet.
Gripping as it was, Blue Gemini was a set of parallel stories, well-developed but distracting from my favorite part, the core story about the secret manned spaceflight program. I considered recommending that Mike just strip out the Aerospace Support Project chapters, ditch the rest and make a smaller but equally enjoyable book. Then it dawned on me that this was just the first of three and (stunning insight!) the separate story lines might converge in the second book.
Converge they did! Blue Darker Than Black brings Ourecky into contact with other characters fully developed in Blue Gemini, while introducing and building more separate story lines. But I get it now—they will all come together in the third book, Pale Blue, right?
For now, we can only gape slack jawed as Ourecky and Drew Carson become the world’s (well, at least the Free World’s) most experienced space travelers in complete secrecy, unable to share their successes, their fears and, yes, their world-weariness with anyone outside of their top-secret circle, not even Ourecky’s new wife. I wonder if I could have kept the two halves of my existence so thoroughly separated. Feeling Ourecky’s pain, I wished he had not been so dedicated.
Jenne warned us early and often that these are really stories of personal challenge, especially for people who cannot bring their loved ones into their confidence. Nestor Glades, the Special Forces archetype who assists in a rescue of Ourecky and Carson, is a prime example. His wife knows not to ask what he does during his all-too-frequent deployments to Vietnam and chides him not to miss her, because she knows keeping his focus on his mission is the best way for him to survive and come home again. Ourecky is not so lucky, because his wife Bea has already known that kind of loss and made Ourecky vow never to do that to her. Luckily for the narrative, she was satisfied with a promise that he could technically keep, but still the strain becomes unbearable.
And what of Ourecky himself? In Blue Darker Than Black, we see him mature, in only a few years, from the techno-geek whiz kid, astronaut-worshipping pilot-reject to the self-assured full-fledged astronaut who could take it or leave it. But it still is not clear what motivates him. Love of country, certainly: he is from homespun salt-of-the-earth stock and never challenges the 1960's “my country right or wrong” universe that takes him in, but never seems to embrace it either. Dedication to duty, honor and self-respect, no doubt. His most positive emotional display comes, not toward his wife and baby son, but when he puts his life on the line once again for Carson, flying a mission that didn’t need his mathematical genius at all.
I think Ourecky’s ultimate dedication is to the mathematics. Mathematics salved his injured ego when he was repeatedly rejected from pilot training (for no stated reason). Mathematics was his ticket into the Aerospace Support Project, and his acceptance as a full team member in an important and clandestine undertaking. Mathematics was his contribution to success on repeated missions when others failed. He imagines space flights as equations on chalkboards brought to life—what geek could resist that? He may see his wife and son as mathematical equations with answers that, while not those he wanted, were inevitable, and chillingly, acceptable. Perhaps this is the most he can hope for under the circumstances, but it is unsettling and a harbinger of further turmoil and sadness in the third book.
Mike Jenne has built a whole cityscape of enthralling individual stories upon a solid foundation of military, astronautical and geopolitical reality. Our world seems always just on the other side of the page as his events unfold in parallel, with our history acting as a framework for fiction so seamlessly and robustly that we cannot resist indulging ourselves in a little bit of “how can we be sure this didn’t really happen?”
Equally gratifying is Jenne’s unrelenting attention to detail. I recognize his command of space history and technology—for each of his factoids, I could pull the same clipping out of my files—but he compiled them while living the more daunting existence of the Special Forces and also somehow plotting out over 1,500 pages of a trilogy and who knows what other creative works. It should comfort me to think that his imagination is not so much better than mine, that he is just recalling and incorporating his life experiences, but I would probably feel less inadequate by comparison if it really were all just his imagination.
If the third volume, Pale Blue, continues the pattern of improving on its predecessors, then its release in May 2017 will mark the beginning of another summer of wishing Mike Jenne’s stories were true and wondering if they aren’t.
We get to know Nestor Glades, veteran special operator, better in this book. He and Matt Henson are called upon when something goes wrong in space. As part of the story, the novel explores life in Haiti, and a careful rescue mission.
The Blue Gemini program has been a great success, and it has been kept a secret, but Soviet authorities know something is up. Their space program is developing its own capabilities. Mike Jenne develops sympathetic, formidable, and also scary characters as counterparts to the American team. And toward the end, we find that the secrecy of Blue Gemini may be compromised.
You can find more information about Mike Jenne and his Blue Gemini series on the web.
This book has everything, great background on the characters, woderful pace and an engaging story. I think the best part of this book, the ironic part of this book is the fact that it COULD have happened the way the author portrays it, it's possible, and that point should get readers to think.