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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another marvellous story ..., 21 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (Apollo Quartet Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
The Eye With Which the Universe Beholds Itself is the second piece in Ian Sales' Apollo Quartet. It follows Adrift On The Sea Of Rains, an alternate history in which a continued Cold War between the USA and the USSR went hot, and resulted in a US station on the Moon, a station that was left to its own devices as the Earth was destroyed, and in which a Nazi wonder weapon offers a glimmer of hope, eventually revealing an Earth unravaged by nuclear war, with a space station clearly visible in Earth orbit, and a remote chance of rescue.

The Eye ... is a different story of the Apollo program and another alternate history. In this one a different cold war has progressed and led to the Apollo technology being used to put a man on Mars and return him home again, with an ultimately terrible secret. It's a secret that gives interstellar travel to the USA, but at an unknown and potentially unknowable cost, and at a very personal cost to the man involved. It is not the exact same universe as Adrift ..., but thematically it's the same. The Apollo technology is central to the story in both pieces of the quartet so far and it shines in the role, but human nature is also a fundamental ingredient - conflict and individual heartache counterpoints the cold equations of the physics involved. Ultimately, it's the humanity of the stories that drives their emotional impact - Sales' spare and sparse voice as a storyteller works perfectly here. The understated nature of the prose belies the intense feelings of the protagonists.

There is something about both of these stories that speaks to me at a fundamental and almost visceral level. I think it's because I'm the right age: I grew up through the `60s, I was at high school when the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon. I sat in my school home room and listened to the broadcast and commentary from the radio as Armstrong stepped down onto the Moon. I was there - I felt it. I was hanging on every broadcast when Apollo 13 went sour. And much later, I got to (very very briefly) meet Buzz Aldrin at a conference in San Francisco.

The Apollo Quartet so far has offered me a way to recall those wonderful feelings that I experienced as a teenager watching the original Apollo programme from a new and fresh prospective.

Highly recommended - I'm very much looking forward to the next instalments.
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