Top Ten Books About Space Travel


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.

1. Carrying the Fire by Mike Collins:

I am fascinated by Collins, by the sheer isolation of his solitary orbits around the skies while his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were to the top during the Apollo 11 mission. This is his autobiography -- and it is fair, humble, unafraid to delve deeper into the specifics. My favourite quote in the novel:"I have not been able to do such things because of any wonderful gift I have; rather, it has been the roll of the dicethe same dice which cause the increase of cancer cells, or a aircraft ejection seat to work or not."

2. If the Sun Dies by Oriana Fallaci:

A hundred years later Jules Verne published In the Earth to the Moon, Fallaci released this report of the US space effort, after weeks of research and with extensive access to all the renowned sites of the Apollo missions and also to heaps of astronauts, scientists and doctors. It is written with uncompromising honesty and an engaging style which combines factual reporting along with her own emotional and intellectual struggle. Torn between adopting technology-driven progress and remaining loyal to humanistic tradition, Fallaci creates a vivid image of the space community, along with the astronauts in particular, that shatters every stereotype.

3. How Apollo Flew to the Moon by W David Woods:

This is an unapologetically geeky book: the complete story of how the Apollo missions were accomplished and of the engineering feats that made them possible. Rigorous and exhaustive, but written in an accessible and engaging style well-suited for the non-technical reader.

4. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge by Asif A Siddiqi:

That is a scholarly work, grounded in many years of research of Russian-language archival sources offered from the post-Soviet era. It's a fascinating account of their epic achievements and battles of the USSR's space program, from its roots to the 1970s, and enjoyable reading for anyone interested in history in addition to space.

5. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach:

If there is a Q&A session, I understand this question will probably be asked: how do you pee space? This entertaining, sometimes humorous book is due to the author's quest to comprehend this and a number of different challenges of working as a human being in space. While she makes no effort to conceal a preference for the less palatable, occasionally disgusting, anecdotes going back to the early days of human spaceflight, and the job predates the mature states of the International Space Station I am personally familiar with, this can be a fun and informative publication.

6. The Martian by Andy Weir:

The story is well known because of the film adaptation, where Matt Damon, stranded on Mars, famously admits:"I will have to science that the shit from this." With the exception of the primary storm setting the events in movement, along with the almost supernatural part of fortune required for everything to work out just right, what is plausible.

7. The Invincible by Stanisław Lem:

Opening with a masterful series from hard science-fiction's classic plot - a vibrant depiction of an interstellar spaceship's landing on an alien world to inquire into the mystery of another crew's passing - this novel weaves together unforgettable futuristic struggles with an interesting quest for understanding which shakes conventional, anthropocentric assumptions about intelligence and development.

8. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon:

The consciousness of the disembodied narrator, to his astonishment, is proposed away from Earth to some mind-blowing journey through time and space which, by itself, will make this book unforgettable. That is not about traditional space travel, not even a conventional novel and there isn't any traditional plot. Rather, it is social-philosophical speculation about a cosmic scale accompanied by boundless, fearless imagination and mythopoeic ambition.

9. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino:

In the first of his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, devoted to the virtue of lightness, Calvino wrote:"Lightness for me is directly related to precision and definition, not to the hazy and haphazard." Paul Valéry stated:'One has to be light such as the bird, maybe not enjoy the volcano. ''' That's the Heart of this Cosmicomics. These stories are a dizzying trip of the imagination, humorous, light-hearted, magical and yet certainly inspired by scientific notions and coherent with their fundamental premises.

10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:

“‘Forty-two, said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm" after pondering for million of years to answer the"ultimate question to life, the universe and everything". As a crew-member of Expedition 42 about the International Space Station, I decided this was in my own fundamental luggage. It provided two significant reminders for space travellers. First, don't panic! Second, let's not take ourselves too seriously.

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