He has no idea that the words he is typing are being transmitted back to Earth and that someone found the data streaming on the Internet and that soon after that, the entire world was reading and hanging on every word he typed.
He talks about learning that the ship cannot keep him alive more than five days and know that he leaves his words as his legacy to those that find his dead body some fifty or so years from now. With that knowledge, he doesn’t fear writing specific details and names of those that have affected his life, including Diana Summer, a beautiful woman that works at ASA and caught Kip’s eye.
On the fifth day, he writes about deciding to try and fix the craft and get it working once again. He talks about the damage which must be outside, and then he talks about the spacewalk he will be taking a beautiful place to die.
The story is based on 2009, published in 2006, so it must be judged using current day methods. All of the technologies, except one, is either already in existence or in the works. The one that isn’t publicly known is the self-sealing ability of the spacecraft in the novel. Without that technology, the story wouldn’t work. But knowing that there are self-sealing tires on automobiles already, gives the possibility that self-sealing spacecraft is a real possibility.
So, this is a solid Science Fiction novel, right? Don’t be so sure. The novel has a significant human interest tone with a romantic twist tossed in to give it an edge. We’ve all read or heard excerpts from private diaries at some point in our lives so we can all understand what it’s like to know someone’s personal thoughts that they’ve written or saved when they’re sure no one will read them. That’s the basis for the main theme of this story.
We get to ‘watch’ a man go through his last five days of life, sharing vicariously his thoughts and fears as he types them into a laptop that is still communicating with Earth because it’s on a separate communication link than the rest of the craft. This sucks us into the story, asking us to figure out and think about what his life means to us and why we are so interested in it.
‘Orbit’ was very difficult to put down and it was not a disappointment at all.
The only thing I wanted to know at the end is whether or not Diana and Kip went beyond the ‘casual kiss’. I actually went looking to see if John Nance wrote a sequel to this novel, but was disappointed when I didn’t find one.
“Hey, John! Hint, hint….”
Read the third part guide to Orbit Novel