Challenger Park

Challenger Park Cover

From the author of the acclaimed and best-selling The Gates of the Alamo, a novel of extraordinary power about what it’s like, and what it means, to journey into space as one of today’s astronauts.

At the novel’s center: Lucy Kincheloe, an astronaut married to an astronaut, the loving mother of two young children, with a fierce ambition to excel in the space program. Her husband, Brian, a rigorous man whose dreams of glory have been blighted by two star-crossed missions. Walt Womack, the steady, unflappable leader of the training team that prepares Lucy for her first shuttle flight.

Lucy has devoted years of intense and focused effort to win her place on a mission, but as her lifelong dream of flying in space comes true, her familiar world appears to be falling apart around her. Her marriage is deteriorating. Her son’s asthma is growing more serious. Her relationship with Walt Womack is becoming dangerously intimate. And when at last she is in space, 240 miles above the earth, and an accident renders the world she left behind appallingly distant—perhaps unreachable—her spirit is tested in gripping and unexpected ways.

In The Gates of the Alamo, Stephen Harrigan’s narrative authority brought a vanished nineteenth-century Texas to vibrant life. In Challenger Park, he does the same with the world of space flight, bringing us up close to the lives—the risks, the friendships, the rituals, the training—of the astronauts and the people who work with them. Harrigan has written an exciting—indeed a thrilling—novel about the contrary pulls of home and adventure, reality and dreams, and the unimaginable experience, the joys and terrors and revelations, of space flight itself.



“Challenger Park is epic in scope but human in scale, a tale of grand adventure packed with individual emotions. This is incomparable twenty-first-century fiction from one of Texas's great authors.”—Mike Shea, Texas Monthly

“A fine, absorbing achievement. . . The payoff [Harrigan] achieves is subtle and intense; a marvel, really. . . This is a stately novel whose emotional precision is matched by the exactitude of its prose.”—Thomas Mallon, The New York Times Book Review

“Harrigan's descriptions of space training and flight sound as though he could pilot the shuttle himself, but what's more impressive ultimately is his knowledge of the conflicted feelings of a woman struggling to figure out what matters to her most.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World

“This is an intimate and soulful novel in which Harrigan balances love, family, and desire in a weightless vision as tragic and honest as America's love affair with space.”—Library Journal

“A terrific book even by Stephen Harrigan standards: the fruit of careful research, vivid in detail, written with indefatigable elegance, exuding an authoritative sense of place, sympathetic with its imperfect characters.”—Patrick Beach, Austin American Statesman

“Dazzling. . . a compelling and moving narrative that makes for one of the most extraordinary novels of the year. . . Harrigan questions the roles of ambition, duty, fealty and self-sacrifice in our lives. But always at the heart of this novel is the mystery of love and the relationship that exists between husband and wife, parent and child, God and humanity, man and his dreams, and, quite literally, the Earth and the heavens. . . This books—as scintillating and brilliant as the ocean of stars in a clear night sky. . . certainly puts him in the top tier of American novelists.”—Edward Nawotka, San Francisco Chronicle