My wife bought me the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon for Christmas. I’ve wanted to see it since it was first broadcast on HBO. From the Earth to the Moon is a dramatization of the story of the Apollo missions to the moon. I’ve been fascinated by the Apollo program, by these extraordinary men who traveled into space, by the space race, by the culture of NASA — all of it — since I was a child.
The gift was great timing on my wife’s part, because right now I’m smack in the middle of editing my second draft of Offworld, which as you should know by now, features a group of astronauts as its core cast of characters. Even though the main story is set on Earth, the earliest part of the book is framed by NASA and manned spaceflight.
I just finished watching the miniseries’ first episode, “Can We Do This?”, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was darn near moved to tears by it. I expect I’m in the minority on that; I can see why the miniseries wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s steeped in technobabble and plays at times almost like an educational documentary, explaining in detail how the Apollo astronauts did what they did.
But it’s also a deeply moving, at times magical portrait of a group of men on something akin to a holy mission. There’s something about watching these guys striving to achieve this monumentally huge thing… under tremendous pressure from political forces… risking their lives in fragile spacecraft that could so easily go wrong in so many ways… yet willing to do it anyway while filled with awe and childlike glee. And succeeding! I can’t explain what that feeling or quality is, but every astronaut in the early days of the space program knew exactly what it was like. And that sensation has got me completely dazzled, roped in by the wonder of this group of people doing what, at that time, should have been impossible.
I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series, but for now, you’ll have to excuse me while I get back to work. I’m feeling inspired…