Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review - Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino

I've always been a huge fan of space and dream of going out and seeing it for myself someday (hopefully in a Star Trek-type ship and not the current shuttles or rockets we're sending up).

Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe is an autobiography written and read by Mike Massimino. It's available in all formats: eBooks, Audiobooks, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.


Spaceman is an autobiography telling the story of Mike Massimino, how he became an astronaut, and details his two spacewalks to the Hubble Telescope.

The Good

Subject Matter. This book tells one boy's story of watching the moon landing and wanting to be an astronaut and then growing up to live that dream. It covers the steps he had to take to make that happen and the challenges he had to overcome. It's an interesting story that never seems to get told but is well worth telling.

Details. The most interesting parts of this book are when the author describes the experiences in detail from his first-person perspective, telling you things you never knew about or have heard before. For example, he describes getting into the space shuttle and launching into space. On TV that takes a couple of minutes and you're in space. In real life there is a lot of waiting and a lot of procedures and a chance of cancellation right up to lift off that the public is never aware of. And the trip itself is several hours.

The Bad

Weak Storytelling / Narration. It's clear the author is not a professional writer, storyteller, or speaker. 
In so many areas it reads more like a technical manual than a great adventure. A good storyteller can weave the technical details in while still keeping his audience on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately, no such writer was involved in the production of this writing.

Too Much Telling. The author has a bad habit of going off on rants about how important something is or how difficult or how amazing, etc. but doesn't always describe the incidents or challenges in sufficient detail for the reader to really see or experience the wonder, amazement, or difficulty. When he does it's wonderful and we really feel what he is feeling. But too often we have to simply take his word for it.

Pacing. This novel has a very even pace throughout. It never gets really exciting, even during times that should be really exciting, because of the way the story it told. 

What I Would Like to Have Seen

Normally I'm not one to say "show, not tell", but in this case it's the most apt. Mike spends way too much time telling us how wonderful and important and challenging and amazing things are when he should be giving more detail and helping us experience his experiences for ourselves so we can see for ourselves how wonderful and important and challenging and amazing all of his experiences are.


Spaceman tells an interesting story most people probably aren't familiar with--the journey to become an astronaut and what life is like once you've made it. Unfortunately, the way it's told doesn't do justice to the story. All too often is sounds like a bureaucrat delivering a report or a technician writing a manual than a great adventurer telling about his latest journey. I give it 3 out of 5 eReaders.



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