Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One, Black Horizon by M G Harris
|Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One, Black Horizon by M G Harris|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Not a perfect sending-off for Gerry Anderson, but this book and the series it launches provide for some interesting adventures and comparisons of new and old.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2015|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Life is changing very fast for Ben Carrington. He is at the opening of a huge skyscraper hotel his late father founded in Abu Dhabi when disaster strikes – the chap is hardly cold in his grave when Ben's mum and the lad have to prove how adept they are at her old job, of mountain rescue. She feels like setting up a new rescue agency with her nous and the family fortunes, but someone who can just amble into the opening/memorial ceremony is Jason Truby, a monumentally rich Internet magnate, who actually has a modern-day Thunderbirds entity already, the top secret Gemini Force. Truby starts to get close to the family of two, but the school-aged Ben isn't going to be allowed to learn just what dramatic escapades the agency has to cover – is he?
Once you get over some major hurdles in this book – the ability of Truby to walk into any and every private function, and the fact the chap is so perfectly full of intelligence and foresight yet never sees how dangerous Ben's presence and being allowed to see everything might just be – you have a reasonably decent adventure. It's very interesting to see just how M G Harris has had to reflect the Gerry Anderson ethos at the modern remove. Here there is a definite modern alternative to the Thunderbirds – most deliberately – and it's blatantly aware that its current take on Tracy Island cannot afford the typically exuberant and over-long launch procedures. Instead people converse with linked tablet computers and create action plans before gearing up, and are in touch not with flashing portrait paintings on the wall but via helmet cams and high tech. Our hero has even seen the Iron Man movie to make comparisons.
But the Anderson tropes are still there – particularly some weird fascination with class. I was always more Parker than Lady Penelope, in more ways than one, and here there's a distance between the hero and his audience, for it's been decided that Ben could only be good enough at what he needs to know and do if he was a posh product (if slightly rebellious and not fully academic) of an international grammar school. Other reviews have pointed out that he seems stuck up and privileged – I wouldn't be so unfair, but it's an issue I felt worth raising, as clearly did others.
The main negative issue for me is that at key points I still had to reread and yet failed to work out exactly what was going on, and for once Ms Harris's visual acuity and clarity fail her. I never got a full grasp of the opening drama, and the initial arrival at and inspection of Gemini Force 1 likewise left me without a full clue as to what I was looking at.
Still, to the book's credit are several things, beyond the initial premise, that we can witness the last major project of Gerry before his death, and its indications that he held moral adventure and high drama for the sake of good as prime right to the end. Leading on the positive side for me was the way this book – the first in a planned trilogy – so slowly and excellently turned from the exposition and scene-setting it has to get through to bring us to the adventure-of-the-week contents. Make no mistake, even when a lot of this short read is bringing everyone we need to know to the fore, and raising a number of unanswered questions and beginning future relationships, it still packs a certain welly as regards drama. If I could have seen that in my mind's eye a lot more successfully I might really have loved this book, and if Ben wasn't the son of a Countess – and if people realised it was a bit cheesy for him to be hanging around in the first place – there would be more impetus for me to lap up books two and three.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Re-releases such as Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy show what the original series' dramas were like. For the slightly more mature reader, we could recommend the rebooted re-vamp of the, er, prequel series, that is Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One, Black Horizon by M G Harris at Amazon.com.
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