RogerBW's Blog

The Moon, Oliver Morton 06 February 2020

2019 non-fiction. Morton considers the history of human interaction with the Moon.

This is another Book of the Week condensation; what we get is a relatively short summary of most of history, and rather more about the Apollo programme and what came after it (or didn't). And I found that Morton got quite polemical: having built up some sympathy by introducing the term "Apollo orphans", people who saw the moon landings and hoped for more human activity in space, he lays out a detailed argument that all their opinions are absolutely without worth and even if they happen to agree with him they're doing it for the wrong reasons.

I may be a little sensitive on that topic.

But that argument is the bulk of what made it into the condensation. Missing is most of the material on science-fictional and other cultural consideration of the moon, which I'd have found more interesting. And since this book is from Economist Publishing, there's a section on how terrible the Outer Space Treaties are for not allowing national or commercial exploitation, because there are clearly people out there who read The Man Who Sold the Moon and take as a lesson from it the idea that their corporate logo would fit in a circle.

It's a very light, anecdotal work: if you want serious science that's elsewhere. The writing is quite bitty, jumping from topic to topic, and for me never quite becoming engaging. Really this is two separate books, the history of thinking about the moon and the economics and geopolitics of Apollo and later missions, and either might have worked better on its own.

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