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Orbit: A Novel Hardcover – March 7, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For Kip Dawson, an unhappily married man with a son who blames him for his first wife's death, winning a trip into orbit is a dream come true. But when a meteorite slices through the ship, killing the pilot and severing all lines of communication, the dream quickly becomes a nightmare. Nance is well-known for his aviation thrillers, and with Orbit he successfully ventures into the near future with this tale of privately funded space flight gone awry. Nance is no newcomer to narration and it shows. He reads with an assured, confident voice and moves the story along with the pacing of an expert raconteur. His vocal modulations to distinguish between characters are subtle but effective. Most of his accents sound true. The use of a walkie-talkie like voice filter to indicate when characters are speaking over the phone or radio is a nice touch that makes conversations more vivid. Kudos to Nance for crafting such a taut thriller and for infusing his performance with such heart and vigor, proving that he is the only person who should narrate his books.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Nance's eighteenth novel, the scene is once again set in the wild blue yonder. It's 2009, and the protagonist, Kip Dawson, has won a seat on an American Space Adventure spacecraft, Intrepid, which will orbit the earth. There are problems: a rock smashes into the craft, killing the pilot and the radios, leaving Dawson to fly it back to Earth. He writes his epitaph on the craft's laptop computer, not knowing that thousands of people have received it on the Internet, triggering a vast struggle to rescue him. As always with Nance, there is plenty of aircraft jargon to please his techno-crazed fans. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1ST edition (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250528
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ellen VINE VOICE on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to pay for my books - so when I buy all the authors I follow, I have big expectations that I will be entertained, excited, informed, entranced, all of the above and more.
Orbit: A Novel satisfies on so many levels - A story about Kip Dawson, who has won a trip on a commercial space craft and what happens to him. Things go awry, and he is the only living person on the damaged craft. Thinking his life will end in a matter of days, he turns to the onboard laptop to sort out his feelings about his life, his career, his family - his words keeping him company, so to speak. Unbeknownst to him, the laptop is beaming down his thoughts in realtime - and the earth seems to stop to see his plight and feel his life experiences, and his initial fear that he will die and orbit for decades above the earth.
This book captured my heart. I started it late one night and finished the next morning - amazing. Orbit transcends to what have we done in our life, who we have loved, and the relationships not taken, and what could we do if we had a second chance, and wipe the slate clean.
Nance better crack his knuckles, and think of a doozie for his next piece, because he has set the bar sky high with this one.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a masterpiece! Somehow John Nance manages to get better with every work and this is a crowning achievement: a unique, unprecedented, clever plot, with heart-stopping action and a level of humanity and painful truth about the agnst of an ordinary man in an extraordinary circumstance that only a deep humanist could articulate.

Kip Dawson is any one of us, male or female. His thoughts, unwittingly transmitted to the world, are the very thoughts so many men would like to deny or will never face. As one of the character says, it's not the way he's lived, but the way he's dying that's so moving.

Most hrillers aren't able to get to a depth of more than an inch or so of true characterization, let alone able to plumb the depths of the human psyche as in ORBIT. Kip is an entirely new character for a thriller. And with Kip, John Nance has utterly redefined what a thriller can be. You will love this book. You will cry with this book! You will REMEMBER this book.

The Kirkus review of ORBIT is complimentary in many ways, especially in calling this book a "guilty pleasure". The line about "manly men doing manly things" is laughable because ORBIT is an incredibly sensative story, beautifully portrayed, light years from some tale dripping in testosterone. Kirkus usually does justice to a review; however, this reader should re-read and re-consider.

Read ORBIT. Recommend it to your friends and family. Celebrate the accession of a truly talented writer to an even higher plane (no pun intended). And email Oprah to get John Nance back on her show to talk about Kip Dawson and ORBIT... the type of breakthrough book she should be championing!
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By A Customer on March 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 2009 private after winning a contest Kip Dawson wins a free seat on an American Space Adventures Spacecraft. He is ecstatic but his wife left him and took the kids with her to her powerful father's mansion in Texas. Five passengers were slated to be on board the flight but due to varying reasons, only Kip and the pilot make the voyage.

Kip is enchanted by the view of Earth from space but a micrometeorite hits the ship killing the pilot before the shell works to close off the hole. Kip expects to die up there because there is no communications from Earth to the ship. The various world space agencies know someone is alive because someone is manually moving the ship but Kip can't get the rocket thrusters to work. To pass the time he writes a diary of his life on the hard drive of his computer not knowing that every word he writes is read by the people on Earth. This work makes a profound impact on the people of Earth as billions listen to the thoughts of an everyman who has them rethinking their priorities abut what is important in life even as he rays this is not his epitaph.

Kip's ordeal changes him and makes him realize he has to make some changes in his life if he survives his ordeal. He becomes a man hailed as a hero by billions of people on Earth who expect him to die with grace and courage. Kip Dawson becomes an unforgettable character, one that won't be forgotten anytime soon. John J. Nance always writes an exciting thriller and ORBIT is no exception but this time he humanizes the character and lays his soul bare through his writings on the computer. Kip is special because he doesn't expect to survive yet refuses to give in to despair.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Kip Dawson is a middle-American Everyman whose lifelong dream of space travel is answered when he wins a contest and is awarded a seat on a commercial low-orbital space flight.

However, it all goes south when a micro-meteor strikes the craft, killing the pilot and severing communications with ground control. Aware of his impending death, Kip starts a chronicle of his life and thoughts on an on-board laptop computer as a legacy for his descendants, unaware that it is linked in send-only mode to the internet. The world becomes aware of his log, and as it follows his every thought, other forces are at work, some trying to rescue him and others trying to obstruct the rescue attempts as they follow their own political agendas.

The story idea and plot are really inventive, but the real key in making a novel truly engaging is to have believable, sympathetic characters with which one can identify - someone the reader is rooting for.

This is where Nance truly succeeds with "Orbit". Kip is the true underdog we all want to see win out over the incredible odds arrayed against him. He's a believable man with faults as well as strengths. The other characters in the book are also very well-drawn.

This book is exciting where it should be, very moving in other sections, the action sequences are tense - in other words, a real winner. As the old cliché goes: "I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat... two thumbs up!"
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