I finished reading Norman Mailer’s Of A Fire On The Moon a couple of weeks ago. This is certainly not the most well known of his books to start with, but I like space and was curious.
My first impression was amazement that he turned the biggest moment in the 20th century into a book largely about himself. The reference to him in The Simpsons now makes more sense (“Norman Mailer’s latest claptrap about his waning libido.”)
He did have some interesting ideas about something other than himself. Most stories about Apollo don’t really go beyond The Onion’s reporting, but Mailer has some legitimate concerns about what comes next and what unintended consequences may come from this.
For example, the Green Revolution has feed millions, but has come at a cost of severe health and environmental risks. Chemicals used in rocket fuel have begun showing up in humans, but that’s not quite what he means.
Some of his specific concerns (such as what may happen with computers) seem quaint, but the general idea seems right. We can’t do something like this without changing ourselves and not everything will be positive. Even after 40 years, it still seems too early to tell.
One other note: the title of this post comes from a great anecdote about trying to find something to eat at a press event at one of the NASA centers. Just in case you were wondering…
Up next, Never Let Me Go.