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French, Francis 1970-

French, Francis 1970-

PERSONAL:

Born 1970, in England.

ADDRESSES:

Office—San Diego Air and Space Museum, 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101.

CAREER:

Writer. Former education programs coordinator, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego, CA; Sally Ride Science, San Diego, former director of events; San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego, current director of education.

WRITINGS:

(With Colin Burgess) Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.

(With Colin Burgess) In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

The director of education for the San Diego Air and Space Museum, Francis French is also the author, with Colin Burgess, of two books chronicling the early days of space exploration and the space race. With Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965, the writers look at the inception of the space program. Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor observed, "Longer on biography than on technology, this account of the first space farers will appeal to spaceflight buffs." In this book the authors focus on the Mercury program in the United States, which involved the first brief manned space flights. Astronauts and cosmonauts profiled include Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard. Writing in the Journal of College Science Teaching, Rita Hoots felt that Into That Silent Sea "recaptures the excitement and awe of our pioneering launches into space," and Jeff Faust, reviewing the same title in the Space Review, termed it a "well-written account about the Americans and Russians who were the first to fly into space."

With In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969, the authors look at the Gemini missions, the lesser known of programs like Mercury and Apollo. In the Gemini program, astronauts were trained to endure space flight for longer and longer periods of time, to navigate and steer a spaceship traveling 20,000 miles an hour, and importantly, to return safely home. The book also covers the Apollo program as well as the Soviet Union's corresponding attempts to reach the moon. In the Shadow of the Moon received generally positive critical reviews. A Publishers Weekly contributor found it "a readable introduction to the first years of America's leap into space," while Faust, writing in the Space Review, noted, "There's a wealth of information and insights about the people and missions in each chapter, at least for those who haven't immersed themselves in space history."

Speaking with a contributor for Today in Space History, French explained his own personal satisfaction in coauthoring these two books: "It was surprising to me, when we started digging, just how many old stories had been repeated and passed from book to book in the past, unchecked, each book assuming the other had it right. Going back to the original sources, people and documentation, we often found that the true facts were somewhat different. We hope we've set a few stories straight, or at least turned a few prior assumptions back into questions for others to ponder."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965, p. 12.

Journal of American Culture, December, 2007, Matthew H. Hersch, review of Into That Silent Sea, p. 455.

Journal of College Science Teaching, September 1, 2007, Rita Hoots, review of Into That Silent Sea, p. 65.

Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2007, review of In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969, p. 157.

ONLINE

SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (January 15, 2008), Steven H. Silver, review of In the Shadow of the Moon.

Space Review,http://thespacereview.com/ (June 25, 2007), Jeff Faust, review of Into That Silent Sea; (September 24, 2007), Jeff Faust, review of In the Shadow of the Moon.

Today in Space History,http://todayinspacehistory.wordpress.com/ (December 10, 2007), interview with Francis French and Colin Burgess.

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