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Phases Of Gravity (2004)

Phases of Gravity (2004)
3.55 of 5 Votes: 2
0759254419 (ISBN13: 9780759254411)
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Phases Of Gravity (2004)
Phases Of Gravity (2004)

About book: Phases of Gravity is a treatment of the human journey, paralleled and perused by a middle-aged fictional astronaut and his personal wanderings. It is a story of the aftermath of success, and the gaping hole of fear left by failure. Three levels of experience are interwoven in this book: that of Richard Baedecker, America's space program, and mankind in general. Author Dan Simmons asserts that his characters and therefore his readers as well, are part of "...a culture choosing between a frightening future of exploration and discovery, or a retreat into the safe and familiar harbors of internecine wars, stagnation, and decline."Decades since his walk on the moon, Baedecker is haunted by the memory of that moment. The illusory experience left him confused and striving for purpose, and now he is hounded daily by gravity and the sight of the moon herself- reminders that his internal footing remains unsteady and unsure. Surrounded by broken relationships and striving for direction, he searches for a meaning to it all. The Challenger accident provides a backdrop and a national focal point for this same feeling of shaken courage and determination (and indeed was the author's real-time impetus for completing the novel.) Like the nation, Baedecker is at a crossroads, though he can't see clearly what his options should even be. Revisiting elements and figures from his past as he travels across America, he encounters the mundane, the invasive, the exalting and the profane and must make something cohesive of these puzzle pieces if he is to find any peace with himself or his world. All serve to stir and catalyze his ideas, for better or worse.His journey reminded me of several important truths. There are so many small things in life that can help restore joy and peace if we will stay mindful of them. Focusing on the journey while keeping one's eyes open for the destination, maintaining flexibility and good humor with others, genuinely engaging in meaningful conversation, celebrating the beauty of the natural world, persevering in the face of feeling uprooted and denied your truest desires, are all facets that make the journey worthwhile. If we can truly examine the experiences and people that cross our path, and remain committed to deepening this life, we might just be surprised that sometimes, even in some small way, the impossible wish might be granted.Although I don't share all of the specific conclusions the author draws, they are laid out poignantly, wrought with genuine effort on the part of the characters, and are deftly employed to tether the characters together in some semblance of hope and endurance. Simmons insists this is not a science fiction tale although those who enjoy his particular style will appreciate echoes of his other works. Ultimately, anyone who finds value in thoughtfully taking the pulse of the individual, the nation, and the world at this crossroads in time will glean traces of merit from Phases of Gravity.

This book is pretty well plot-less and depressing. For the type A personalities that one would expect to be astronauts, the main characters sort of floats through a life where the people around him almost seem to be shadow puppets of what one would expect of that role. The main character seemed to be bored with his kids, says he loved his wife even though he seems unmoved by her dying, and when his friend dies he shows up because it seems like that's sort of expected. He has more feelings about how his camping equipment compares to his early twenty something fling then he has about her.This is like a novel about some one trying to find meaning in a life they really have been engaged enough to really experience. The flashbacks remind me of Adam Sandler in Click when he's on fast forward, and these are the events (and feelings) in the characters life that had the most impact. It does inspire me to better my life, and be more engaged, because of the characters example of how badly it can turn out.
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"This is not the book you are looking for" if you're expecting an astronaut's reminiscences about space travel or science fiction. The book is about the aftermath: an ex-astronaut trying to cope with what's left after the missions have ended and trying to understand the death (suicide?) of a fellow astronaut. The book wasn't what I expected and I didn't particularly enjoy the reading of it, probably because I was still hoping for something else. That said, elements of the book have stayed with me 18 months afterwards. If I'd read with an open mind, I suspect I would have liked the book a lot better... hence the 2,5 rounded up to 3 stars.I do still have the book and may well re-read (and re-review) at a later date.
Minki Pool
I was a little surprised that this book turned out to be about an astronaut with a midlife crisis without featuring any actual astronauting. Perhaps I have not done my research properly, or perhaps I just trusted Dan Simmons too much, but if someone had enlightened me that this book features no science fiction other than the spiritual journey of a middle-aged man, I would probably not have bothered. As it is, the book is well written (as one expects from Simmons) and sufficiently layered. The climax of Dave Muldorf's story, that is also the final piece of the puzzle that propels the protagonist forward into action and a better life, is heartbraking and well worth the boredom of the rest of the book.
Ondřej Puczok
Podivuhodná směs sci-fi a reality, kde vlastně žádné sci-fi nanejdete. Kniha se mi v jedné fázi (kapitola Glen Oak) ani dočítat nechtěla, neboť přesně tato kapitola zdůrazňuje vše, co je na této knize špatně. Zvolené jméno "Baedecker", které je v knize v každé třetí větě opakováno je otravné (ano můj zvláštní důvod), doplněno je to strašlivou všedností, jako by se chtěl autor vymluvit ze všeho, co za svůj život nestihl a co mu uplynulo mezi prsty, či naopak, co už (se) nemůže (z)opakovat. Banální část, banální text. Přesto má v sobě kniha zajímavé témata, která ani nejdou popsat. Konec kapitoly Uncompahgre je zvláštní ale potěší, čtvrtá kapitola je stylem vyprávění zmatená, ale přesto asi nejzajímavější a ta finální je už jen doplnění. Chtěl jsem přestat číst v 1/3, přesto jsem dočetl a nelituju. Přesto ale dávám 2 hvězdy. Zvláštní, velmi zvláštní...
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