Among those funny little things I noticed after having lived in space for a while is that, contrary to regular experience on Earth, it required a little effort to keep my arms pushed against my own body. Had I remembered better my youth reading, I wouldn't have been surprised. Jules Verne envisioned that this back in 1865. At one point, the protagonists of his Out of the Earth to the Moon realise "their own bodies were absolutely with no weight. Their armsfull extended, no more hunted their sides"
That wasn't the first time literature supposed that a trip to the moon: in Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1516), the knight Astolfo flies to the moon in pursuit of Orlando's lost wits. Cyrano de Bergerac's satirical novel The Other World: Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moondates back to the 17th century, also in 1857 Italian astronomer Ernest Capocci wrote a novel about the first journey to the moon, which he imagined undertaken in 2057 by a female named Urania. Nevertheless Verne was the very first to narrate the endeavour with some degree of engineering authenticity, eventually coming to be recognized as one of the fathers of science fiction.
Decades after, space travel became a reality. So along with fiction, which continues to question the limits of the creativity and confront us with deep questionswe now have books which tell the story of real spaceflight. My novel is among those. It is the narrative of my journey as a apprentice astronaut, by the lengthy, nerve-wrecking selection procedure through five decades of training. Years invested in classrooms and simulators, swimming pools and centrifuges, survival and emergency drills, luggage to hand, residing across continents. Until, one day, a rocket has been waiting to take me to the International Space Station, humanity's outpost in space. For 200 days, I would inhabit a body that is searing, I'd watch the sun rise and set 16 times every day, I'd enjoy the amazing opinion of the Earth moving beneath me. And I'd slowly find out to be an extraterrestrial being.
In fiction and in fact, these books seem truest to that exceptional experience.