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The true story, originally published as Rocket Boys, that inspired the Universal Pictures film. It was 1957, the year Sputnik raced across the Appalachian sky, and the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia, was slowly dying. Faced with an uncertain future, Homer Hickam nurtured a dream: to send rockets into outer space. The introspective son of the mine’s superintendent and a mother determined to get him out of Coalwood forever, Homer fell in with a group of misfits who learned not only how to turn scraps of metal into sophisticated rockets but how to sustain their hope in a town that swallowed its men alive.
It is fall 1959. Homer “Sonny” Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, and the town of Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads. The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where Homer Sr. struggles to save the mine, and his wife, Elsie, is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl, finds his own mood darkened by an unexplainable sadness. Then, with the holidays approaching, trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider bring unexpected changes in both the Hickam family and the town of Coalwood … as this luminous memoir moves toward its poignant conclusion.
Now Homer Hickam continues his extraordinary story with Sky of Stone, dazzling us with exquisite storytelling as he takes us back to that remarkable small town we first came to know and love in October Sky. In the summer of ‘61, Homer “Sonny” Hickam, a year of college behind him, was dreaming of sandy beaches and rocket ships. But before Sonny could reach the seaside fixer-upper where his mother was spending the summer, a telephone call sends him back to the place he thought he had escaped, the gritty coal-mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia. There, Sonny’s father, the mine’s superintendent, has been accused of negligence in a man’s death—and the townspeople are in conflict over the future of the town.
In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fishermen, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the Thurlows. However, Josh Thurlow, the Keeper’s son, has forsworn his heritage to become the commander of the Maudie Jane, a small Coast Guard patrol boat operating off Killakeet. Josh is still tortured by guilt, seventeen years after losing his baby brother at sea. Then his life is complicated by the arrival of the beautiful Dosie Crossan, who has journeyed to lonely Killakeet to escape the outside world and perhaps find a purpose in life. While Josh’s heart is stirred by the often-vexing Dosie, he continues his search for his brother, even after a wolfpack of German U-boats arrives to soak the island’s beaches with blood and oil.
It’s 1943 and the Americans and Japanese are fighting a deadly war in the hot, jungle-covered volcanic islands of the South Pacific. The outcome is in doubt and a terrible blow has fallen on American morale. Lieutenant David Armistead, a Marine Corps hero and cousin of the President of the United States, is missing and some say he’s gone over to the enemy. Coast Guard Captain Josh Thurlow and his ragtag crew are given the assignment to find Armistead, though not necessarily to bring him back alive. Recruited in the hunt is a tormented and frail PT-boat skipper nicknamed “Shafty” who is also known by another name: John F. Kennedy. When Josh is stranded in the jungles of New Georgia with a mysterious, sensual woman who has a tendency to chop off men’s heads, it’s up to Kennedy to come to the rescue and complete the mission. But to procure a gunboat, he first has to play high-stakes poker with a young naval supply officer called Nick who happens to be the best gambler in the South Pacific. Nick has another name, too: Richard M. Nixon.
Coast Guard Captain Josh Thurlow is on hand at the invasion of Tarawa, as the U.S. Navy begins the grand strategy of throwing her marines at island after bloody island across the Pacific. But nothing goes as planned as young Americans go up against fanatical defenders, who revel in snipers, big guns, and human wave attacks from which there is no escape save death. As blood colors the waters around Tarawa, Josh flounders ashore through a floating graveyard of dead men and joins the survivors, determined to somehow wrest victory from disaster. Critically wounded, ,Josh expects to die. Instead, he is spun off on one of his greatest adventures when Sister Mary Kathleen, a young Irish nun, nurses him back to health, then shanghais Josh, sidekick Bosun Ready O’Neal, and three American marines to a group of beautiful tropical islands invaded by a brutal Japanese warlord. Josh and his little band must decide whether to help the Sister fight the battle she demands, return to Tarawa and the “real” war, or settle down in the romantic splendor of the South Seas.
Non-fiction companion book to the Josh Thurlow series - In 1942 German U-boats turned the shipping lanes off Cape Hatteras into a sea of death. Cruising up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard, they sank 259 ships, littering the waters with cargo and bodies. As astonished civilians witnessed explosions from American beaches, fighting men dubbed the area “Torpedo Junction.” And while the U.S. Navy failed to react, a handful of Coast Guard sailors scrambled to the front lines. Outgunned and out-maneuvered, they heroically battled the deadliest fleet of submarines ever launched. Never was Germany closer to winning the war.
It’s the 22nd Century. A tough, pioneering people mine the moon for Helium-3 to produce energy for a desperate, war-torn Earth. Sixteen-year-old Crater Trueblood loves his job as a Helium-3 miner. But when he saves a fellow miner, his life changes forever. Impressed by his heroism, the owner of the mine orders Crater to undertake a dangerous mission. Crater doubts himself, but has no choice. He must go. With the help of Maria, the mine owner’s frustrating but gorgeous granddaughter, and his gillie—a sentient and sometimes insubordinate clump of slime mold cells—Crater must fight both human and subhuman enemies. He’ll battle his way across a thousand miles of deadly lunar terrain and face genetically altered super warriors in his quest to recover an astonishing object that will alter the lives of everyone on the moon.
Crescent is a gene-tweaked mercenary programmed to fight to the death. When she’s captured by Crater Trueblood, a miner turned soldier, she can’t understand his kindness. Maria Medaris, once Crater’s girlfriend, has become a ruthless competitor in business and in life. When a murderous band of assassins attack, Crescent, Crater, and Maria escape to a lunar ghost town called Endless Dust. To survive they must do more than navigate the desolate moonscape and battle a persistent band of killers. They must decide what–and who–is truly worth fighting for.
My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer, co-authored with Anousheh Ansari
In her heartwarming and empowering memoir, space pioneer Anousheh Ansari tells the story of her childhood in Iran and her family’s exodus to America after the Islamic Revolution. After settling down in Texas, Anousheh built a computer technology firm from the ground up, which eventually realized a net worth of $750 million and ultimately allowed her to achieve her childhood dream of spaceflight. In her groundbreaking role as the first-ever female commercial spaceflight participant, her story became politicized and fraught with the prejudices and obstacles she had to overcome as an Iranian woman, culminating in a debate over whether she would be allowed to display both the American and Iranian flags on the sleeve of her spacesuit.
The cowboys who work on the ranchlands of Montana expect more than their fair share of trouble. One of them is Mike Wire, a former homicide detective. Mike is about to learn murder and mayhem can happen under Motnana’s big skies, too. Beneath the earth lie enough dinosaur fossils to fill several museum collections—and make a fortune for whoever claims them first. Soon he will have to combine everything he learned as a cop with everything he knows as a cowboy to protect the people and the land he could never live without.
Song Hawkins is a beautiful, tough, but lonely New York City businesswoman who thinks she’s met the man of her dreams in Cable Jordan, the superintendent of a West Virginia coal mine. But soon after they impulsively marry, Song realizes they’re in big trouble. She can’t imagine life outside of New York, and Cable has no intention of leaving his beloved town of Highcoal. Song’s visit to the little mining community only makes things worse. It looks like the marriage is over. But in a shocking turn of events, Song realizes it’s up to her to put on the red helmet of the new coal miner and descend into the deep darkness. There she faces her greatest challenge with choices and courage that will forever impact the life of Cable and the entire town.
Jack Medaris is a man haunted by his past and driven by a dream: He’s risking everything to “borrow” the Columbia—and pilot it to the moon. He didn’t plan on an unexpected passenger, beautiful celebrity daredevil and scientist Penny High Eagle. To Penny, this hijacking will test every bit of her mettle as an adventurer—and as a woman. To Jack, the mission is a personal quest—to return to the moon and bring back what America left behind, something so explosive, it could change the future of the world. Now, as the U.S. government scrambles to the chase, and as deadly forces are deployed from earth to stop them, a man and a woman find their fates inextricably entwined. And in the savage emptiness of deep space, their only hope is to join forces to reach the lunar surface. Then comes the hard part. Getting home alive.