2006 Xeric Winner!
In the early 60s, the space race was moving towards its climax. Prior to manned spaceflight, both Americans and Soviets were launching animals up in rockets in order to test the biological viability of manned spaceflight... often with tragic results.
Extensively researched, First in Space is based on the true story of Ham, a chimpanzee that NASA trained for the first sub-orbital spaceflight. This rousing adventure provides a snapshot in time of mankind's early steps at conquering the final frontier.
Ain't It Cool News:
"It's a monkey IN SPACE!!! Who the hell in their right minds can resist a book about shooting those tree-swinging banana-gobblers into the great unknown? Someone who doesn't know how to enjoy something good for what it is, that's who."
"Ham's story is funny, sad, suspenseful, and thought-provoking."
"I'll never be first in line for entertainments about animals in peril. It's just not what I look for when I open a comic or novel or turn on a television. But First in Space avoids the cheap manipulations endemic to that category, simply telling a fascinating story and with sincerity and intelligence."
Vining's art is clean and pleasing to the eye. His storytelling is solid. The emotional arc of the book actually eschews a simple and warm conclusion and instead delivers a cold, sad ending. This is well-researched, brave work, and easily recommendable. I look forward to seeing what Vining does next."
"At first, I thought this was fiction, through and through, but a quick scan of Vining's bibliography and web resources reveals there's a lot of truth to this story. Vining's research is apparently meticulous, but despite the strength of his hard facts, he doesn't sacrifice the emotion that really fuels the story."
"If you're looking for the perfect comic for a young reader, this may very well be it. It's an interesting story told clearly with some good jokes and a nice hook into American history. Yet, there's something for the grown-ups here too; it's a great all-ages book, at the end of the day. First in Space accomplishes its own first—a story that creates sympathy and interest in animals, without descending into fantasy nonsense."
"First in Space should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of the space program. I'm still thinking about these animals long after finishing the books."
"First in Space is informative and entertaining."