Click here to return to the main site.
Like Gene Roddenberry, Gerry Anderson created a body of work which is beloved of multiple generations and enduring in its appeal. Also like Roddenberry, Anderson continued to work on ideas right to the end of his life. One of these was Gemini Force, which has found a home in novel form.
Gerry Anderson’s Gemini Force: Book 1 - Ghost Mine (2015. 256 Pages) is a story written and adapted, from Anderson’s original notes, by author M. G. Harris.
Carrying on someone else’s work is fraught with dangers. Understandably Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson were never going to match the power of Frank Herbert’s original Dune, but were able to produce a number of entertaining novels. Harris is in the enviable position of not having to follow another novelist as Anderson’s work concentrated on film and television, including the wonderful Thunderbirds.
Gemini Force shares much with Thunderbirds, in that; it is a secretive rescue organisation, funded by an industrialist who never seems to run out of money. Even their secret base and the vehicles used will resonate with fans. So, why not just write a Thunderbirds novel?
Thunderbirds was a show of its time with particular morals and sensibilities, which may make a return on the screen, where the thrilling rescues can paper over thin plots, a thing which would be instantly obvious in novel form. Gemini Force allows many of the elements of Thunderbirds to be incorporated into a more modern plot; even Gerry gets a bit of a cheesy reference.
The story introduces us to Ben; in the latter half of his teenage years he is ideally positioned to appeal to both children as an aspirational character and to adults who can place themselves into an age where everything seemed possible. When we first meet Ben he is with, but not an official part of, Gemini Force. It is he, as the point of view character, who leads the reader both through the characters and the story.
From the book's cover you would think that the story will mainly be given over to the mine rescue, but this does not even kick in until over half way. Harris spends many useful pages exploring Ben’s world, his friends and colleagues and his driving force to officially join the team. He is a fairly well-rounded character who develops through a number of confrontations. The first against the elements felt real, although the second was farfetched. In truth, if Harris had restricted him to action appropriate to his age then this would have made for a very dull story. So, we suspend belief in a similar way accepted and expected in the young adult genre.
Although the ghost of Thunderbirds haunts part of the plot, Harris has taken the story in a very different direction, so don’t expect long descriptions of fabulous machines and the daring-do of their pilots, rather you get a rescue rooted in reality with a social conscience.
For a story in this genre, I was surprised how enjoyable it was too read, it not going to win any awards, but it’s well written, the pace is good and Ben gets to have a character arc which makes a real change in his life. I’m guessing that if the books sell well then more will be forthcoming, especially as this tale left a few story threads unresolved.