Orion, out now
After his father’s tragic death, Ben Carrington becomes involved with billionaire Jason Truby’s plan to create a rescue organisation…
If that sounds very like something Gerry Anderson would think up, that’s because it is – Gemini Force 1 is based on the last project on which the great Supermarionation producer was working before his descent into Alzheimer’s and untimely death in 2012. Initially financed by Kickstarter, it’s now a three-book series published by Orion that expands on the notes and ideas Anderson thought up.
Whereas most of Anderson’s shows were military in nature (whether it’s the space/undersea patrols of the early shows, or the defence forces of Captain Scarlet or UFO), Thunderbirds wasn’t: International Rescue was the brainchild of millionaire astronaut Jeff Tracy, and Anderson went back to this idea of private enterprise stepping in where governments were failing for this final project. In the first novel, Joshua Files creator M.G. Harris has to introduce the team and the concepts in a believable way, and to do this, we spend the book looking through the eyes of teenager Ben Carrington.
That’s a mixed blessing. The privately educated Ben (who’s the son of a Countess in her own right as well) isn’t necessarily the most sympathetic of central characters – he’s almost too well presented as a self-centred teenager, whose primary concern initially seems to be Truby’s flirting with his mother!
However, once the characters are introduced and we get to see inside Gemini Force 1, Truby’s rescue team, things pick up considerably. GF1 may have the cool craft like International Rescue (with elements of their design picked from currently available futuristic tech taken to the next level), but they operate in a very different way. Although some improvisation is needed (and Ben often becomes key at this point), far more is planned up front than we ever saw the Tracy brothers attempting. This gives the series an edge, and makes the plot developments more credible, something that’s taken to another level when it’s clear that the inherent dangers aren’t going to be simply glossed over.
Harris keeps the tension high throughout the action sequences, providing enough information for you to envisage what’s happening in your mind’s eye without slowing things down too much with extraneous detail, and by the end chances are you too will be invested in the future exploits of GF1…
Verdict: A strong start for a series that continues Gerry Anderson’s legacy most appropriately. 8/10