Signing on for Gemini Force One? It’s unlikely that Ben Carrington ever imagined it would be a walk in the park, nor would he have wanted it to be such. A champion sportsman at his exclusive high school, it was his extracurricular skills which would have served him well in the mountain rescue his mother was in the process of forming that brought them to the attention of former astronaut turned entrepreneur Jason Truby.
So it is that Ben leaps at the chance to put his experience to good use when an Alpine training expedition is proposed, a chance to practice, to share his knowledge and perhaps learn new survival skills. A chance that comes sooner rather than later when he and Jasmine Dietz find themselves alone in the mountains with no sign of the rest of their party…
From the snowy mountains of Europe to the jungles of an island in the Caribbean Sea to the dry plains of Africa and deep below the ground in the hostile environment of a collapsing gold mine where every action is treated with suspicion, there seems to be no rest for Ben and his friends in the second volume of adventures penned by M G Harris based on the outlines drawn up by the much missed legendary television producer Gerry Anderson.
As in the recently published launch volume Black Horizon, with a focus on fast action and heroics the target audience is young adult, and while a more cynical older reader might find it superficial and trite the intended readership and those others who choose to maintain that outlook will be burning up the short chapters, eager to get to the next display of bravado.
As his frequent brushes with near disaster testify, that quality is something Ben has altogether too much of which he must learn to temper if he is to be accepted as a full member of the team; it is perhaps not without irony that the sometimes bull-headed young man ends up with the call sign Taurus.
Like the first book, this falls into three sections, but while before there seemed to be a natural flow leading up to the final crisis and rescue operation here the feel is more fragmented with an irksome repeated tendency for Ben to learn a new skill or operational protocol just before it becomes useful later in the book.
While the others members of Gemini Force One may take a back seat during the action, during the (brief) downtime more is offered of their lives and histories, particularly the previously enigmatic Jason Truby, a man determined at all costs to do the right thing and never allow himself or any of those who wear his uniform resort to instruments of violence. Fortunately, thanks to the machines designed by Trubycom’s chief scientist, the reverentially referred to Professor Gerald Anderson, they have alternative means at their disposal.
Rather than focusing on Gemini Force One as an entity this is very much Ben’s book; although he is the point of view character for the reader, with Harris’ stated intention that he should grow through the three books and learn from the more experienced characters around him, here he is operating almost in isolation, and it is to be hoped that the third novel, due next spring, will finally see Gemini Force One take flight as the single unit they are on the cusp of becoming.
Gerry Anderson’s Gemini Force: Ghost Mine is available now from Orion