An intimate and profound portrait of the Moon. Ranging across science, art and mythology, writer Oliver Morton explores the different spaces that Earth’s closest neighbour occupies in our lives and lays out the history and future of our relationship with the Moon.
Morton does a great job of recovering the excitement – and, for their time, astonishing technical accomplishments – of the various Apollo missions. He is plainly of that post-1970s generation defined as “orphans of Apollo”: those whose hopes of an extra-terrestrial future were dashed by the faltering nature of the various space programmes.
I have read almost everything written about the lunar missions, yet I have never encountered a book that captures so perfectly and so lyrically the ridiculous power that the moon holds over human sensibility. This is a beautiful book about Luna — a “Moon of many stories, Moon as might be and Moon as always was, Moon longed for and Moon happened upon”. It exposes the magnificent desolation of the lunar quest, yet still captures the beguiling hold that the moon has over all of us. Well, most of us. Not me.
Morton is a high-octane British science journalist, and every chapter is littered with material that strikes, amazes or haunts... Only one chapter is explicitly about the Apollo missions, but it is superb. And original: instead of telling the same old story about Neil Armstrong, the Eagle landing, and so on, Morton spot-focuses... It should be clear that this is an unusually thoughtful and well-written science book. It is almost lyrical... [T]his is a book filled not just with a lifetime’s knowledge of its subject but with a lifetime’s suppressed excitement. Only four of the people who have walked on the moon are still alive, Morton reminds us. They will be “heavily outnumbered”, he predicts, by those who will soon follow.