Chris Hadfield - Shastrix Books

Chris Hadfield

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The Apollo Murders

The Apollo Murders

Chris Hadfield

3rd September 2022

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while and been nervous to start it. I’m not usually a huge thriller reader any more, but the appeal of an actual astronaut author overruled that in this case.

This is the story of a militarised Apollo 18 mission, an eighth moon mission from Nasa. And it’s quite well done. There’s a good mix of fictional main characters with real people who worked on the space programme at the time, and the characters are well rounded and built out, and full of interesting things to learn.

The plot is outlandish but in no way unbelievable. There’s quite a lot to set up the action, but it’s not unlike many other novels in the genre.

I did feel much more engaged through the middle part of the novel. The structure reminds me of Star Trek IV (“the one with the whales”), in which the middle of the film was written by a different screenwriter from the ends. In is case the parts of the story which occur in space were gripping much more than those parts on earth, and I wonder if this is because of that connection to the real space experience of the author. It’s reminiscent of the Apollo 13 movie in some respects, particular that realism feeling around the interactions between astronauts and their mission control.

The one stylistic choice that I found took me out of the narrative is that at moments of high tension, it switches out of the fast paced action to spend paragraphs on really technical detail before concluding the action. I think this is meant to heighten the suspense, but for me it just feels like glorifying something unnecessary instead of keeping the focus on the story.

Overall though, really impressed, and would totally read another novel by Hadfield.

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An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

Chris Hadfield

27th January 2014

Chris Hadfield's biography - despite the title, that's how the book reads - tells the story of the astronaut's life from childhood up to returning to Earth after his stint commanding the International Space Station. It's a fascinating look into a profession that most of us can only dream about, and Hadfield manages to tell his story in an incredibly humble way.

As per the title, Hadfield frames his narrative around explaining various life lessons that he's based his own character on, and shows how these have benefited his personal life and career. He's quite candid about various aspects of both, and doesn't shirk away from telling in detail how the intricacies of space-station life work.

The most interesting things though are some of the anecdotes Hadfield tells about himself, particularly where things seem to be going wrong. He shows a real talent for building the narrative tension despite the reader knowing how things turn out.

The book shows Commander Hadfield as a real person rather than the internet celebrity that he's become, and it's a really interesting insight into his life and the workings of the world's space agencies. An awesome book that I'm really glad I read.

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