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In 'Challenger Park,' Mom Is an Astronaut

Stephen Harrigan explores space travel -- and adultery -- in the novel Challenger Park. The Texas-based writer drew inspiration from a visit to a kids' soccer game in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake City, home to NASA's Johnson Space Center. One of the moms at the game was an astronaut.

"The image of that astronaut mom at the soccer game kept taunting my imagination," he writes in an essay about the book. "What would it be like, as a mother, to travel to space? To put that sort of distance between yourself and your children?"

His protaganist, Lucy Kincheloe, is a mother and married to a fellow astronaut, but focused on earning her own space mission. That dream is complicated by a relationship with her training-team leader.

Harrigan's other fiction includes The Gates of the Alamo. He's written non-fiction on nature and diving. So far, critics like Challenger Park. The New York Times Book Review called it "a fine, absorbing achievement."

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