Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One Review

From the creator of Thunderbirds, international rescues enter a new age.

Despite the fact he became a household name way back in the 1960s, Gerry Anderson continued to create exciting worlds right up until his death in 2012. Not all were successful, but those such as Space: 1999 and Terrahawks meant that people who grew up with his imagination were never short of new stories to enjoy. Thanks to the televised repeats of his classic series in the early nineties, not to mention perhaps the most ambitious Blue Peter model ever made, a whole new generation was able to grow up enamoured of the adventures that sprang from perhaps the most creative mind Television has ever seen. Unfortunately diagnosed with dementia and unable to complete them himself, Anderson left behind a number of new ideas that are now being brought to life thanks to his youngest son Jamie. It is through his continued effort, alongside a generous crowdfunding campaign that began 18 months ago, that the first of these is ready to hit the shelves. Published this week is Black Horizon, the initial story in a trilogy of Gemini Force One novels, a young adult book series penned by the creator of The Joshua Files, M.G. Harris. With the Gemini Force being a technologically advanced rescue organisation, the similarities and influences of Anderson's previous work are unmissable. The fact that Thunderbirds itself was the initial inspiration will come as no surprise, especially considering that GF's founder Jason Truby is Jeff Tracy in all but name, and even that is still very similar. Familiar it may be, but rest assured that despite not being Anderson's most original concept, he has taken it into uncharted territory. This truly is Gerry Anderson for the 21st Century. The eyes through which we experience this stark new landscape belong to the courageous Benedict Carrington, a 16 year old who leads a less than ordinary life right from the start. Introduced at the opening of his recently deceased father's skyscraper in Abu Dhabi, it's not long until he and his mother, heiress of an Austrian Count, are risking their lives to rescue a pair of display pilots. Yet despite this, rarely is Ben ever a character who readers will struggle to identify with. Particularly when viewing those at the Gemini Force with a great sense of admiration, and it is through this plethora of well rounded supporting characters which help make this brave new world seem credible. But it is the events that befall the organisation, and Ben personally, which stand out from what older generations grew up with. Long gone are the days of rescues resulting from overambitious engineering, and even the Hood's schemes pale in comparison to drug smugglers and hints of international terrorism. Those expecting happy endings all round will likewise be disappointed. For all its heavy themes and appeal to Anderson fans of any age however, Black Horizon is undoubtedly a young adult novel at heart. Regardless of what Gemini Force may throw at Ben, his own struggles with school, fitting in, and getting noticed by girls are never far away. But whatever their age, whether readers are new to fantastical craft on daring missions or lured there by a sense of nostalgia, it is the unravelling story that will have everyone hooked. Based on Anderson's notes and outlines, M.G. Harris has crafted a story that may take a while to develop but which never lets up once the ball starts rolling. The action is never hard to follow, and is described with a page turning tension that keeps you enthralled until the revelations hit home with gut punching accuracy. Very much an origin story for Ben as much as Gemini Force itself, all are put through their paces throughout Black Horizon, and shaped into heroes that will ensure readers return for further adventures in later books. The fact that Gemini Force One is unable to escape from the shadow of its predecessor may be a shame to some, but despite a rebooted CGI series also released at the end of the week, it is the true successor to Thunderbirds' crown. In Gemini Force One, Gerry Anderson has created something that is more than deserving of finding an audience on its own merits, and with Black Horizon, M.G, Harris has ensured that it is also more than capable. Black Horizon is released on 2nd April.

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