Over the past week, I've had the distinct intellectual pleasure of reading Light This Candle: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard, a captivating tome from Crown Publishing, courtesy of author Neal Thompson.
Let me just say, that while I love reading anything about astronauts and all things space, this in particular was a fun, fluidly conversational read – though still densely packed with remarkable stories and skillfully researched information about a very complex, often evocative, and always mysterious man who captivated the world in May of 1961!
Those of us who were unfashionably late to the space race (*cough* Not born yet *cough*cough) eagerly absorb tales from the "names" who excite us – Jim Lovell, John Glenn, Gene Cernan, etc. and many were interviewed personally for this book. Still others were quoted from their own famed auto-biographies, to paint a fuller picture of the man who made some of them money, made more of them jealous, and made all of them work harder!
From early school pranks to golfing on the moon, he was certainly never boring – never even still for five minutes at a time, for that matter. Reminiscences of the remaining Mercury Seven and other Moonwalkers, as well as the foreword by Chris Kraft, paint the era in which Shepard thrived and reached the pinnacle of achievement for a cocky test pilot. Call it the Right Stuff, call it the Best of the Best, the clichés are many and varied. But once you delve into the many facets of the man inside the silver suit, he is anything but clichéd.
May 2011 Alan Shepard 50th Anniversary Stamp
Did everyone get a chance to go play on the Space Cadets app yesterday? I'm sure you've noticed that alongside the serious scientists and astronauts, there are some light-hearted science fiction stars as well… from Captain Kirk to Captain Mal... to Yoda. And kudos to anyone who plays with the quote generator long enough to find the lone Looney Tune. ;)
Alan also appears many times, with both funny and ponderous quotes, and you'll have a chance at winning a free SIGNED copy of Neal Thompson's "Light This Candle" if you go find him!
Go to the Space Cadets page and click the LIKE button… and you're entered in the contest! Generate a quote and post it to your wall, that's worth another entry. Everyone who helped test the new app is automatically entered, and all the wonderfully supportive readers who joined when I announced this yesterday.
I went to my admin alerts page today, and saw 50 new fans, right out of the gate… way to go, space geeks! I always hear people complain there is no "intelligent" material on Facebook, so here's your chance to join a page dedicated to the brainy, the pioneering, the true and literal rocket scientists.
Also, anyone who joins my Pillownaut Twitter feed in May is automatically entered (or entered again). On Friday, May 20th, I'll choose randomly from the alerts, and send the winner a brand new, free copy of Light This Candle: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard, personally autographed by researched and author Neal Thompson … because it's worth it!