Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, & Speed, by Scott Parazynski (author, narrator), Suzy Flory (author)

Brilliance Audio, August 2017

This is an excellent first-person account of a doctor, astronaut, and inventor who had a really impressive career in the space program.

Oh, yeah, and he climbs mountains a lot.

I wish I could care more about that. I really do. It's not a fair criticism of the book to say that he talks too much about that. Objectively, I don't think he does. It's not his fault that for me, climbing the world's major peaks for the heck of it pushes a lot of buttons--particularly after he marries and has two kids.

And he knows his wife isn't thrilled about it.

And he's taking out home equity loans on their house to pay for it.

Honestly, for a lot of readers, I suspect the mountain climbing stuff is a bonus. He's knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and writes about it as well as he does about his NASA career. It isn't even irrelevant to his NASA career. At one point, it gets him an Earth-bound assignment that is directly relevant to future exploration of Mars. So my advice is, ignore my grumpiness on this point. You'll probably like those bits.

Far more enjoyable and more to the point, though, is his account of his medical education, his astronaut training, He helped build the International Space Station, missed out on a tour of duty on Mir only because he was just a few inches too tall for the Soyuz, made emergency repairs in space, on an unplanned space walk, on a damaged solar panel for the ISS. He was on John Glenn's shuttle mission, as part of research on space travel and aging. On his last shuttle flight, he was the most experienced astronaut on board.

He's got a lot to say about space, the space program, exploration--and the conflicts between maintaining a healthy marriage and having a successful career as an astronaut.

Overall, it's well-written, interesting, and lively. Scott Parazynski is also a good choice for reading his own book, which isn't always the case with someone with no background as a voice performer.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.