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Gravity    by Tess Gerritsen order for
by Tess Gerritsen
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Gerritsen starts this tale in the depths of the occean, the Galapagos Rift, where a scientist maneouvers a new type of submersible through an alien environment nineteen thousand feet under the sea. There, bizarre creatures have evolved in magma-heated waters emanating from a hydrothermal vent rich in hydrogen sulfide. The author leaves the reader with this interesting tidbit as the story moves up into space.

Dr. Emma Watson is part of a NASA team scheduled for a space station research mission. Then tragedy strikes one of the astronauts they were intended to replace and Emma is sent up early with a regular delivery of supplies on the shuttle Atlantis. Emma's soon to be ex-husband Jack McCallum is back on Earth. Jack is also a doctor, rejected as an astronaut when he was diagnosed with kidney stones. This failure to participate in something that he has passionately wished for, has poisoned their marriage.

Soon after Emma reaches the station, crew members start to fall ill with a disease that makes Ebola seem benign. It appears to have originated from a SeaScience experiment (part of the station's research payload). This connects us back to the story's beginning. On Earth, Jack races against time to uncover information about the experiment, while the Defense Department has something to hide and a prototype orbiter is prepared for a risky test launch. Of course, Emma's danger re-ignites Jack's love and concern for her.

The author's own medical background allows her to give technical depth and credibility to the medical aspects, and she's also done a good job on the NASA research. It's a great story, with lots of action and puzzles, hard to put down once started. Of course, the usual last minute rescue is a bit hard to swallow, but it worked for Independence Day ... and the bookcover of Gravity indicates that its film rights have already been sold.

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