Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mike Mars Flies the X-15

Mike Mars Flies the X-15, Donald A. Wollheim, Paperback Library, 1961

Part of a series, this adventure novel is about the very early days of the American space program.

Everyone is familiar with Project Mercury, the beginning of America's journey into space. But no one is familiar with Project Quicksilver, a secret program to plant the American flag on the Moon. Mike Mars, one of the astronauts in the program, has been dreaming about going into space since he was a boy. Rod Harger, another of the astronauts, has a very different motivation. All he cares about is the fame and glory (and money) that will come from being the first man in space. His rich father hires a thug names Cahoon, and sends him to Edwards Air Force Base in California to do what he can to ensure that Rod is the first in space.

The X-15 is the state of the art in spaceplanes, and any attempt at sabotage is a bad idea, because before every flight, every square inch of the X-15 is checked, and re-checked. After each of the astronauts gets a chance at flying the X-15, which takes off attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber, Mike is chosen to pilot the first flight to the edge of the atmosphere.

Meantime, a storehouse on the edge of the base is broken into, and a Sidewinder (heat-seeking) anti-aircraft missile and launcher is stolen. Johnny Bluehawk, another of the astronauts and a full-blooded Native American, investigates. He gets knocked out and thrown in the back of a truck. Next thing he knows, he is in Nevada, near Las Vegas. The course the X-15 will take back to Edwards is known in advance, so the missile is set up near one of the radar stations over which the X-15 will have to travel. The intention is to blow Mike, and the X-15, out of the air. During a major brawl between Johnny and Cahoon, the missile is launched. Does Johnny make it back to Edwards in one piece?

Considering when this novel was published, when manned spaceflight was considered insane, this is pretty good. It's a very quick read, and will bring the reader back to those hallowed days of yesteryear.  

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