Orbit by John J. Nance from Chinaberry for my husband for Christmas. Of course, the best thing about buying a loved one a good book is that you get to read it, too!
Orbit is a gripping suspense novel, the kind that is easily devoured in a couple of days. The plot is unique and intriguing, pulling you in immediately. Kip Dawson is a typical American husband and father who wins a contest with a prize that will fulfill his lifetime dream: to travel in a spacecraft. It's 2009, and private space travel has become a reality. Kip's prize includes two weeks of ground school, followed by a flight in a small spacecraft that will orbit Earth several times. Of course, some problems crop up, and Kip eventually finds himself alone in the tiny ship, miles above the Earth. It's a classic Gilligan's Island "3-hour tour" set-up.
After that, though, Orbit takes off on its own path. While Kip is trying to figure out how to get back on the ground safely, he discovers an onboard laptop computer and begins typing a personal journal. He knows there's a good chance he won't survive, and typing his thoughts and the story of his life provides an outlet for him and perhaps, he thinks, a record of what happened for some future generation. Since the ship no longer has radio contact with the ground, Kip is unaware that everything he types is being instantly downloaded through an internet connection and read by millions of people all over the world.
Kip's physical situation provides plenty of suspense to the story, while his journal and its effects on his family and the rest of the world give the book an emotional depth that's often missing from suspense novels. It's fascinating to listen in on the thoughts of a man who believes he'll be dead in a few days.
This is the first book of John Nance's that I've read (he's published seventeen prior novels). Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the fast-paced, thoughtful Orbit.