Thursday, 25 August 2016
The Magicians Who Sold The Moon
In Heinlein's story, the Moon landing happens off-stage because the narrative is about how one determined man inspires, finances and organizes the expedition. A supply of high grade rocket fuel is crucial whereas Anderson's implausible premise requires a piece of Moon rock because rocks from the Moon have a magical affinity with it. Native Americans donate a medicine bundle that provides life support. The reader begins to question whether there could be an alternative timeline where such measures were effective.
This reminds me of two other fictional means of interplanetary travel apart from rockets. (Are we told what propels Weston's spherical spaceship in CS Lewis' Out Of The Silent Planet? I can look it up.) HG Wells' Cavor makes Cavorite which is opaque to gravity. Thus, when the Cavorite shutters are closed on the side of the sphere facing Earth and open on the side facing the Moon, the sphere falls towards the Moon. In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Solar System, each planet emits a distinctive ray and a ship approaches a planet by attuning itself to that ray - or something.