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3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  773 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
In this "heart-pounding" ("Seattle Post-Intelligencer") aviation thriller, "New York Times" bestselling author John J. Nance ventures forward to 2009, taking readers on a riveting journey of life or death.His once-in-a-lifetime chance...

Disillusioned with his life, when Kip Dawson wins a passenger seat on one of American Space Adventure's commercial spaceflights, it's a dr
Paperback, 408 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Pocket Star Books (first published February 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 22, 2008 Sdwolfpup rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book was difficult for me. I found the basic idea fascinating, and the scenes with real action and tension all worked well for me. But the majority of the book I had real problems with. The use of present tense was fine for the previously mentioned action/tension scenes, but made the quiet and emotional scenes fall flat. I found Kip to be mostly obnoxious instead of as likable as the author clearly found him. All of the female characters in the book (all three of them) were one-dimensional ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Keith rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-crap-bin

It is not often that I am embarrassed for a New York Times bestselling author, but this is one of those cases. An average concept (space tourist all alone in orbit) was squandered by Mr. Nance. A thriller this was not. The premise used to get to the concept was thin, the implementation weak, the characters shallow and the main character's impact on the world overexaggerated to the point of farce. Raised eyebrows and skipped pages were the norm for this read. The longer
Nov 27, 2009 Becky rated it really liked it
this was my first introduction to this aviator thriller author. it was a compelling read, like watching a virtual pseudo-death. it's the story of this guy who wins a space shuttle trip orbiting the earth, and during the first orbit, the spacecraft is hit by debris, killing the pilot and disabling the communication system with earth. so this poor guy is orbiting the earth, knowing he is certain to die when the air runs out, and he begins writing his thoughts on the computer, just rambling and put ...more
May 01, 2015 Stewart rated it did not like it
Shelves: no-longer-own
I feel bad about disliking this book, since I met author John J. Nance at an ALA event a few years ago, and he autographed my copy. Still, even a signature and a platitude couldn't save this joyless, preachy, needlessly technical mess.

I'm glad I read The Martian before this one, since they are both ridiculous stories of men abandoned in space and can thus be reasonably compared to one another. While Andy Weir's book (my review here) was also overcomplicated at times, at least he had some fun wit
Dec 17, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: completed
Pandora's Clock Pandora's Clock by John J. Nance

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nance does not disappoint.

Here's the background:

Kip Dawson wins a contest for a trip into outer space. It is supposed to be a "three hour tour" but after an accident leaves the pilot dead, Kip is stranded without a radio and no connection to earth. The head of NASA is giddy with delight that the private company running the space tour is in trouble. Kip is left incommunicado. However, he wants to leave a record and he finds a laptop inside
Jared Bird
Jan 01, 2016 Jared Bird rated it it was ok
"The Martian"-lite.
Honestly, just reread The Martian. This book does a handful of things well, like covering the effect it would have on a person where the whole world gets to read your most intimate thoughts. Honestly, this book is better when you realize that that is the plot of the book- what if the whole world got to read your diary? Everything else is superfluous fluff (And I mean fluff, like the backstory of Kip's wife, the corporate espionage, and worst of all, the supposed tension create
Apr 11, 2011 Thom rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Overall I enjoyed about as much as I didn't about this book.

First take the premise. Who wouldn't love to be alone in space? Highly introspective stuff here, and most astronauts express some of the same ideas. Next, the laptop link. This was kind of cheesy and not well explained, although necessary for the story. So, assume positive and move on. The politics of NASA and others? Very believable cast of characters there. The female characters? Only three or five with names, all mostly static. I rea
Apr 14, 2010 Donald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Well narrated and a great story for narration. The idea of winning a lottery for a chance to ride a private company shuttle into low Earth orbit is not that far fetched. But what if the other three seats had to back out for one reason or another and it would be just you and the pilot? Would you go?

What if something happened to the pilot while you were up there? Could you figure things out and bring the craft back? These are things that happen to the main character, Kip, who discovers a laptop co
Jul 23, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing
In short, a very very fascinating exploration of the idea of how emotional honesty and transparency (and an attendant voyeuristic-fascination by others) as such coincide in the life of one man chronicling his final 5 days of air aboard a low-altitude earth orbit space craft, and the life reflection such a situation brings about in him.

I recommend this book to every person, if only for the challenge to persons to be more emotionally honest, and intentional about vision casting for their own lives
Nov 27, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing
This was a pretty good book. It is about a man who goes into orbit around the earth-a private citizen and how he deals with his death and so he begins to write down on the computer in his tiny capsule things he wished he had said and done on Earth. He is unaware that his story is being broadcast all over the world. Everyone is reading his words, everyone is rooting for him to come home. This was an edge of my seat kind of book-and I can see it being a heck of a movie. Nance is a good writer. I e ...more
John Monaghan
Jan 02, 2017 John Monaghan rated it liked it
Good read, enjoyed the story; a welcome breakfromthe holiday tedium.

I did think that at times, the story faltered and quickly recovered using cliche solutions to problems.
Jeannie Mancini
Jul 17, 2011 Jeannie Mancini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kip Dawson’s longtime dream is to fly into space. When he wins a seat aboard the American Space Adventures’ shuttle Intrepid, little does he know that this incredible once in a lifetime journey will also change the course of his life in a manner no human being could ever foresee or imagine.

After months of training as a substitute astronaut, Kip’s launch date has arrived, and although his wife and son are angry with him for being so selfish due to the high risk this flight carries, he decides th
So, I Read This Book Today
Jan 01, 2013 So, I Read This Book Today rated it it was amazing
How would things be different, if we knew how things would end? If we knew that the end of our life would require a recounting of our days, to be read by the population of the world, would we live a thoughtful life? If we knew the time, method, and manner of our deaths, would we think before we act? Give mercy instead of contempt? Patience and thoughtfulness instead of intolerance and selfishness? Would we stop on the street to offer a hand to a lonely man? Would so much of our lives be wrapped ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Orbit, by John J. Nance, a-minus, narrated by the author, produced by Brilliance Audio, available through

This is a book with a plot guaranteed to hit the reader in the primordial fear center. Kip won a contest thereby allowing him to get a free ride with a private company offering trips into the edge of space with four orbits and a return to earth. This company had taken several such trips during the year with no problems. People were supposed to buy, for a large amount of money, th
Roger Bailey
This was purported to me to be science fiction. Science fiction, according to my understanding, is a form of literature in which the question of what if is asked and something fantastic is inserted after the what if. It then gives a possible answer to the question. The fantastic is an object, character or event that we do not know to be possible, but is likely to be an extrapolation of what we do know to be scientifically possible. To put it another way, I once read somewhere that if you write a ...more
Mar 24, 2008 Becky rated it it was ok
Who knew a book about space travel could be so dull? This book is about a man who wins a trip aboard a private space vessel to travel just above the earth's atmosphere. Things go wrong and communication becomes void, or so the main character, Kip, thinks. He decides to type on a PC and record his memories and last thoughts so that his children will know who he was and what happened to him. I disagree with the published reviews that state this is a gripping suspense novel. My interest level was v ...more
May 18, 2014 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Review of the Audiobook

Published by Brilliance Audio in 2006
Read by the author, John J. Nance
Duration: approximately 6 hours.

This near future science fiction book is actually a near past book now. Written in 2006 but set in 2009 (why would Nance set the date so close to the date he published it? I just ignored the date and went on).

The premise of the book is that private, simplified space shuttles are regularly flying back and forth to the international space station, to put satellites into o
Leonard Romney
Dec 17, 2013 Leonard Romney rated it really liked it
I have just indulged myself in a 14 hour reading marathon which included 5 1/2 hours of sleep. A couple of days ago I visited the local library which was having a sale of books no longer wanted for their collection. I purchased two - $.25 each. Yesterday afternoon, I picked up one of the books, Orbit written by John J Nance. I finished this 272 paged thriller a few moments ago, having not only slept for 5 . hours but eaten a little supper and also attended a cello concert featuring 2 grandkids a ...more
Oct 01, 2010 Terrysmithemail rated it liked it
I am reluctantly giving this 3 stars instead of 2, just because the premise is so cool. A prize winning space tourist finds himself the only remaining living passenger on a shuttle orbiting the planet, with all communications severed. He knows he will die. He finds a laptop and decides to write his life story, including his deepest and most personal thoughts, for discovery after he dies. Unbeknownst to him, the laptop has a separate link to a website on earth. Soon, this everyman's writings are ...more
Kate Irwin-smiler
This book was lent to me with the caveat that two of my friends had each read it in single sittings. I wasn't quite that enthralled; I think it took me two days. A commercial space tourism company holds a contest, with the winner receiving a free trip to low Earth orbit (which tourists pay half a million dollars for...). But something goes horribly wrong on his trip, and Kip Dawson ends up alone in the vehicle, and with no hope of rescue. He starts a journal, intended to be a brain dump to be re ...more
Dec 01, 2007 Cathy rated it it was amazing
This story makes you think about what would you do if you only had 5 days left to live as you orbit the earth. From a distance via a small window, you see the stark beauty of the earth, while inside a small spacecraft you reexamine your life...the joys, sorrows, and what you would do differently if you had a second chance. This is what happens to Kip Dawson. He won a once in a lifetime trip to orbit around the earth, however, everything goes wrong. His only communication tool is a laptop comput ...more
Mar 21, 2008 Eric rated it liked it
Kip is having the usual mid-life issues when he wins a trip on a commercial orbital craft.

Kind of like Spaceship-One, that won the Ansari X-Price for being the first civilian craft to go into space.

All is well until they reach a solid orbit, and a tiny piece of space junk flies through the ship at tremendous speed, barely leaving a finger-sized hole that the self-sealing hull had no problem containing.

However, it killed the pilot instantly, and cut communications & telemetry with the ground
Jul 10, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it
Well written near future story (within 10 years maybe). It appealed to my SF leanings and cmae close to meeting all my expectations. He took what might have been a run of the mill idea and elevated wiht the story of a divorced father who wins the ride of a lifetime and in quick order he becomes the sole survivor. Since the protagonist has no full education in the sciences or in 'the textbook' provided he has to find a way of, in effect, rescuing himself. Little does he know or realize that the t ...more
Morris Graham
Aug 13, 2015 Morris Graham rated it it was amazing
This is my first book this year. I picked up the audiobook version. But, I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt, as the print book is probably correct. Now we get to the book itself. This is a book about an "average Joe" who finds himself facing his mortality. He gets a chance to spend five days contemplating his life while facing what he thinks is certain death. I found this book compelling, from a perspective that I felt I was in the cockpit of the shuttle with Kip Dawson, feeling as th ...more
Jan 27, 2008 Beverley added it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a book with a novel plot with some profound passages about life and death.
Recommended to Beverley by: Anyone who likes fiction.
This book had one of those plots that, given an interesting premise, almost unravels by itself without any needed input from the author. Even the plot twists, once they happen, seem inevitable. I really liked this book.

(not a spoiler, this is close to the blurb on the jacket) ->

The basic idea is that a guy wins a ride in an commercial rocker that orbits the Earth. He's alone with the pilot, who promptly dies due to something hitting the rocket and breaking all the important systems. No one ca
Jun 11, 2013 Sealove rated it it was amazing
It's amazing… This was the first book We read by John J. Nance and I must say because of this story, we started to read all the rest.

Orbit brings you outside of what you normally think of as reality… But the author does such a good job of describing the details that you actually feel like you could be where the main character is, floating above the earth and wondering about life and death.

The emotional connection that he makes with all the people on planet earth is really something. It was remar
Apr 17, 2014 Josie rated it liked it
This book had potential to really thrill me. But it made some heavy mistakes. I much enjoyed the parts with kip and his flight and his writing. But the book did not contain enough of that. It threw you here and there every chapter introducing us to new names, new characters that I did not care about. It tried to force me to feel a connection with these extra characters whom I could barely keep straight. It didn't show us enough of the ones I did care about. I felt like I was reading Clive's "Arc ...more
Sherrill Watson
Jul 29, 2016 Sherrill Watson rated it it was ok
Thin, thin, thin.

Could ALL the nations of the world have THAT much trouble getting a rescue spacecraft off the ground? Is NASA and their personnel in THAT much trouble? Could Kip be the only one who gets transported into Earth orbit by our pilot? Why? Could one asteroid penetrate the space shuttle and made a direct hit on the pilot without causing much other damage? Could Kip not "remember" he was an engineer, and the pertinent checklist, until the last minute? And could everyone in the world(!
Mar 21, 2009 Jane rated it liked it
Entertaining...unrealistic but entertaining. Kip wins a lottery to go into orbit via a privately owned company. Kip is not happy with life..has a marriage that isn't doing so well, a son that is angry with him and job with a secret burden he hides. His dream to go into space becomes an opportunity for self-realization and really living when the pilot of the craft is killed and he remains alone and in charge of his death or survival. Kip's private thoughts unfiltered and produced on the ship's co ...more
Nov 16, 2008 Natalie rated it liked it
This was a nice quick read. It touched on important themes like loving your family, living a full life, etc. as a man writes candidly about his life thinking he has only a few days to live. And being the space nerd that I am, I liked the idea of private space flight.

But, being the quick read it was, it just touched on a few things that if it had gone deeper would have made it really great, instead of just good. For instance I would have liked to see the discussion about the NASA space explorati
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John J. Nance is an American pilot, aviation safety expert, and author. He served in the USAF during the Vietnam War and also as a Lt. Colonel in Operation Desert Storm.
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