I am a Melbourne based writer, primarily of speculative fiction. I find the writing process fascinating; the links below include examples of my work, fiction and non fiction, but also another story. How has a chapter evolved? How have places and the fictions of others informed and inspired my own. How do I research, develop ideas and turn them into narrative? Each page offers a different insight into the work and the story behind the work.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Dark Side of the Moon

I have been reading Moondust: In Search of the Men who Fell to Earth, by Andrew Smith, a book about the Apollo moon landings and the astronauts who flew either to the moon, or walked upon it. I haven't finished it yet, but I feel the book has a well deserved reputation.

There is quite a bit of material for reflection and comment in the book, but one thing struck me. Each moon landing involved three astronauts. Two went down in the lunar module and one had to remain to oversee the the Apollo spacecraft and docking upon the return of the moon walkers.

The astronauts who actually walked upon the moon have been able to make a much better income from their celebrity status in the decades since the moon landings. The pilots who remained have largely struggled to do so.

The ironic thing is that one who remained behind were the more experienced of the three, who the program director felt were best trusted for a responsible and potentially difficult role.

This seems to me a rather familiar sort of issue with the focus of the public eye - it is perhaps on the idea of what these men did, more than what they actually achieved or experienced. One thing Smith points out, which is a fascinating; the men left behind on each moonwalk mission got to experience something unique in its own way - during the orbit of the Apollo spacecraft around the dark side of the moon they became the most solitary human beings in history. They were a quarter of a million miles from the earth, utterly cut off from communication and in the shadow of the moon with deep space and infinity beyond.

It may not have been as spectacular as the experience of walking upon the surface of another body in the solar system, but perhaps it was (and some of those who experienced it, describe its qualities in the book)... while we can more easily identify with the moon walkers and have seen footage of them striding high and kicking up moon dust, the experience of those men on the dark side of the moon was utterly private and unknown to the eyes of the world. Sometimes such things have a greater dimension than the obvious thrills.

I don't suppose we really live in a civlisation where it is typical to celebrate something unique known only within the consciousness of one man so far from us all experiencing one of the ultimate explorations into the unknown.

1 comment:

  1. Good point.
    Certain inner awe/ terror suggests itself to me as one imagines being so absolutely alone, abandoned, floating over the dark side of the Moon in an uncompromising, uneuphemisticised Infinity...gulp!
    Or alternatively the singular privilege of entering the silence of that sacred space could be like entering a zen temple..the zen temple.