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Starry Sky

Gerald's Star


Before Gravity there was Gerald’s Star: a story about a long-dead astronaut circling the earth in a decaying orbit, his cosmonaut crew mate, and his son…all destined to be reunited in the weathered rocks of Moab, Utah.

The relationship between men and between fathers and sons is a study of understatement, often revealed more by selective silence than by words, and emotions are masked, controlled, and conveyed with a simple gesture: a shrug, a glance, a nod, a raised glass of alcohol.

Backstory: Inspiration for this story came to me in the fall of 2002. Before I could put it to paper, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during its reentry on February 1, 2003. Thus, real life circumstances prevented me from completing a fictional work with some similarities to a real tragedy.

Five years later, after Soldier Dead had been published, I decided that enough time had passed after the Columbia disaster and I completed the first version of Gerald’s Star in the fall of 2009. I chose to take the ebook route and learn about self-publishing and marketing.

At the time of completing this novella, I made a mental note that it was the best I could do at that time. I distinctly remember telling myself to come back to it when and if I ever felt I had made a leap forward in writing skill.

Now, after two years on a major fiction novel (blessings and good wishes accepted!), I revisited Gerald’s Star. A rewrite over the course of a few weeks resulted in cutting the word count from 25,000 to just over 19,000. Gone were wasted words, extended descriptions, and sidetracks. I kept only that which I felt moved the story along but still retained material that lent richness to the tale. I will be curious to see how it is received.

A long-dead astronaut circling the earth in a decaying orbit, his cosmonaut crewmate, and his son are all destined to be reunited in the weathered rocks of Moab, Utah. A Chekhovian novella in which the reader peels away the characters’ layers like an onion until only the tender core remains.

Amazon Reader Reviews

The Desert of Space, & the Desert of Utah

A space tragedy triggers a spiraling chain of events with long term impact on 3 lives. Vivid storytelling with 3 personal stories intertwining. There is easily room for a prequel here and the circumstances may be much more sinister if we knew more about the misdirects from NASA. I felt teleported into Moab.

Doug Brugler

What is Gerald’s Star? From a decaying orbit in outer space. An age-old story of fathers and sons. From different worlds. Right here on earth.If you have a bent for the unusual – and a tender heart – you’re going to love this story.They should make a movie out of this one.


No matter what genre you prefer, read this novella. Sledge has a vast imagination and a big heart. This story is riveting, meaningful, and haunting. Superbly done.

L. Harper

A wondrously imaginative yet realistic scenario unfolds itself into a tale of growth and connection in this smartly paced novella. The author’s intertwining storytelling and his grasp of the science of space combine beautifully in this work, which is well-suited for adults and adolescents alike. Like Earth’s gravitational forces, the plot really pulls you in  I finished it in one-sitting!


Two men, one young – the other not; one healthy and the other ill, journey across the United States east to west, apart and together, going west with the night. They reach Moab, Utah, where their paths and fates intersect. Their lives will never be the same again.In Michael Sledge’s novel, GERALD’S STAR, Gerry and Anatoley Karpov have come to Moab to witness the return of a father and friend to earth – an astronaut killed and cast adrift 20 years previously while on a space mission. He is only now returning to earth.Fiction has a characteristic of carrying away the reader that can only be approximated in non-fiction.

It is odd that we need novels of what might have been to capture our imagination and heart while non-fiction can capture our mind and thoughts. With GERALD’S STAR, Sledge has commendably taken the results of both fields, fiction and non-fiction, and created a novel that captures both mind and body. Part of Sledge’s success is his prose and style. Part of it, his subject matter. Who can resist a coming home story? Or a story about a son finally meeting his long-lost father? Or a friend re-paying a debt to a friend? GERALD’S STAR has all of this plus a touch of travelog and space science and physics. And some events in this novel sound as though they were lived by the author.

All together, GERALD’S STAR is a good read. You won’t be disappointed by anything Sledge has for you up to and including the satisfying and inspiring low-key ending. This novel by Michael Sledge, GERALD’S STAR, is highly recommended.

Peter Stekel

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