You might have noticed that when I read nonfiction, I read some pretty crazy topics all over the place. This time! We’re delving into space. REAL SPACE. Not Your Sci-fi Space Lite™. And this is precisely the reason why you have to read real space memoirs, especially if you’re a sci-fi fan. Space just got real, and it’s meaner than you’ve ever thought.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about – this is the review of Scott Kelly’s memoir, and he is the cool dude who spent a year in space. The only such man. After having cancer. This guy? Whole new definition of awesome. So let’s get to the reasons why you should read his book!
Reason #1. You Thought Lack Of Gravity Was Cool
Well… NOPE. Turns out? Doing everything without gravity is much harder. The lack of gravity will even break your body in time. It will reduce you to basically a squid. Did you know that? Let me give you a list of things that are
absolute bullshit not completely true about being in space, and yet are constantly used in fictional space:
- Hot sci-fi chicks gracefully moving around on spaceships? *buzzer sound*
- Long hair looking good in space? *buzzer sound*
- Scratch that. Hair in general looking good? Even staying clean and being washed? *buzzer sound*
- Toned muscular bodies in space? *buzzer sound*
- Actually, rethink everything you’ve ever read about people eating on no-gravity spaceships. And about fresh food on spaceships.
- A quick suit up before going out of the ship? Man, forget it! N+1 hours!
- I will not begin ANY SUCH conversation about sexual activity in space because you do not want to think about fluid dynamics OR the lack of weight you’re experiencing. Neither do I.
Personally, I loved finding out about this. We don’t give the real space dudes enough credit! Because sci-fi makes it seem soooo easy. That’s the last thing it is.
Reason #2. We Need To Debunk The Myth That Only Perfect People Can Be Astronauts… Or Do Other Demanding Jobs
Actually, I thought that only 20:20 vision ripped young boys and girls go to space. Probably, so did you.
(Okay, so, buzzer GIFs are a little harder to find, apparently.)
Turns out, nope – young folks don’t go to space. ALMOST AT ALL. That is another lie by the media, fed to us to think that only youngsters can do anything in life, and if you’re not doing it, you’re living your life all wrong. Wanna know what gets people to space? Hard work. Years of it. Most people go to space sub-40. By that time, they probably don’t have 20:20 vision anymore. They don’t have perfect health either. Forget the myth that your life ended when you weren’t a 20-something. People went to space after having cancer! People went to space with glasses. Wanna know what? If you’re short, you’re a preference for going to space! Ha. I found all of that incredibly empowering.
Reason #3. You Need To Restore Belief In Humanity
Okay, so… The political arena these days is not something I want to even remotely hear about. Most days, I either think the world will self-implode, or just keep embarrassing itself.
Which is why I found it unbelievably uplifting to know that while we squabble about whose president is less qualified for their job or… more qualified for totalitarian world domination, the Russians and Americans quietly work as a team on the International Space Station. Turns out, the Americans can’t even go to space without the Russians. They have been going to space on a Russian ship for aaaaages now that the Shuttle has been decomissioned. Fancy that, huh? So much for diplomacy… This is the true team spirit of advancing humanity. #science, baby! I think Scott Kelly puts it better than me, so check out this quote:
“When people ask whether the space station is worth the expense, this is something I always point out. What is it worth to see two former bitter enemies transform their weapons into transport for peaceful exploration and the pursuit of scientific knowledge? What is it worth to see former enemy nations turn their warriors into crewmates and lifelong friends? This is impossible to put a dollar figure on, but to me it’s one of the things that makes this project worth the expense, even worth risking our lives.”
Reason #4. The Book Empowers People From Humble Origins
Scott Kelly tells of a childhood with a heavily drinking father – an experience I’m also familiar with – and it’s truly great to hear that high achievers can be people just like me, people who might have often felt that achievements are for “the better kind”, the kind of people who come from proper homes (you’d be surprised how many children of alcoholics silently feel this way!) Side by side, he tells two stories – one of actually being in space, and one of preparing himself to go there – the road of a kid who nearly flunked highschool and had undiagnosed ADHD to becoming an astronaut.
Reason #5. The Book Tries To Make You See How Much You Should Respect The Planet
(image courtesy: NASA)
An astronaut can’t fail to understand the fragility of the Earth. No astronaut has ever come back to Earth and said, to hell with global warming, it doesn’t exist! (I mean, I sure hope none of them did…)
Scott Kelly tries to show us how beautiful, how loving and comfortable our home world is. It’s directly visible, juxtaposed to the coldness, vastness and inhabitability of space. It baffles you how powerless we really are out there – for all our almighty hubris. Which is why we need to nurture and protect what we have here.
So do you want to read it yet? If you do, you can grab it here (buying it through this link will also contribute to my blog!) I thank Scott Kelly and Knopf Publishing Group for giving me an early copy of this book in exchange to my honest opinion.
Have you ever read about any real astronauts? Maybe it’s time you did? Share your thoughts on these myths debunked!