Mark Sample is having fun with his flight delays at Dulles. This tweet reminded me of the first chapter of  the much-lauded Benjamin Percy’s upcoming novel, Red Moon. It’s a horror novel about werewolves lycans, but to hear Percy talk about it — he was a presenter at the same Grand Central Publishing event at which I appeared — it’s also a political and psychological allegory. I read the first chapter on the flight back from New York (I had been given an advance copy because Percy and I share the same publisher). It’s about a werewolf on a plane, and it’s unnerving, because you know exactly what Percy is getting at with that metaphor. It was really scary and intense and I decided, You know what? I don’t think I want to read this on a flight that didn’t take off until the passengers had been given a strange second going-over by TSA.

The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel’s history of the early space program, as seen from the point of view of the wives of the Mercury astronauts. Think Mad Men meets The Right Stuff. It’s such a great idea for a book I can’t believe no one thought of it before. When I took the galley copy out of my bag at home, my space-geek son Matthew snatched it up, burrowed down into my leather armchair, and began reading. Matthew knows more about the early space program than anybody I know. He came up the hall this morning talking about how great Koppel’s book is.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It tells a side of the story that people don’t know. It’s really interesting how these men were out doing heroic things, and their wives were left to fend for themselves. The press treated them like perfect American women, but they all had really interesting struggles of their own. Did you know that Alan Shepard cheated on his wife, but she refused to see it?”

“That was the era,” Julie said.

“An alternative title could be The Divine Secrets of the Space Sisterhood,” Matthew said.

So that’s the early review from this corner of the international space-geek conspiracy.

Red Moon is out in May, and Astronaut Wives Club is out in June. I won’t say anything more about them until publication, because the rule is that you don’t really want publicity until the book is in stores or ready to ship from online booksellers. Still, having heard Percy and Koppel talk about their books, I’m excited, and I think you will be too.

All of which is to say that Ben Percy has a voice as deep as the most fathomless cavern of the earth. Seriously, listen to the guy. It makes James Earl Jones sound like Truman Capote or a squealing Bee Gee. It’s so striking that one of the magazine editors at the event asked him to record the voice mail greeting for her smart phone.

Ben Percy, non-Capote