Important Note: This review was written years ago, as the reference to the last shuttle launch should make clear. It is not my birthday!
This is my birthday present to myself - to review one of my favourite
books by my all-time favourite author. It is made more poignant by the
last shuttle launch yesterday, which made me cry like a baby.
is not new - shuttle launches, Apollo launches, everything I can think
of that has to do with space overwhelms me with wonder, and Spider
Robinson is a huge part of the reason why. He makes space so exciting,
so enticing, so essential, the vision and passion for manned spaceflight
so urgent. (And to send artists up - one of the great tragedies of the
cancellation of the Civilian in Space program after the Challenger
disaster, was that his wife, Jeanne, never got to up with the second
mission, never got to try dance in space for any longer than the time in
the Vomit Comet she got very late in her life.)
Stardance. And Starseed and Starmind, and I'll get to those later, I
promise. Stealing directly from an essay by Spider, Spider is one of my
mentors, in the sense of being one of the people who taught me how to
think. Who taught me about the first law of Callahan's, which I will
hold on to my whole life. Who taught me about wonder and
the intense power of hope. And these books, which hold the message, we need to get out there in larger numbers. How could we have left the moon alone so long? Why aren't we making art in space?
is about hope. And fighting. About being human, and what that means. To
quote from the book:
"This is what it is to be human: To see the
essential existential futility of all action, all striving - and to act,
to strive. This is what it is to be human: to reach forever beyond your
grasp. This is what it is to be human: to live forever or die trying.
This is what it is to be human: to perpetually ask the unanswerable
questions, in the hope that the asking of them will somehow hasten the
day when they will be answered. This is what it is to be human: to
strive in the face of the certainty of failure. This is what it is to be
human: to persist."
And like the shuttle launches, this book
wrecks me every time. But in a happy, joyous way. Please read it. It
would be a wonderful birthday present for me if you did.