In retrospect, it’s not surprising that Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) is the first science fiction film. After all, the sky is the original cinematic experience: the lights go up and come down; the moon and constellations change; the colors shift, fade, and intensify; and the weather provides drama and tension. Staring at the sky in night or day is an emotional, humanizing experience. It emphasizes how small you are in the face of the universe. Thus it only makes sense that one of the first subjects for narrative cinema would be the desire to explore what’s up there.
(Digression: I, like most babies of the 80s and 90s, came to know Melies’ work because of the Smashing Pumpkin’s video for “Tonight, Tonight,” which remains most excellent.)
What I want to think about today, though, isn’t films such as A Trip to the Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Contact, or Armageddon, which concern themselves with space in an entirely imaginative or fictional way, but instead with those that attempt to tell the “true” story of human space exploration.
For the sake of conciseness, I’m going to limit myself to The Right Stuff (1983), Apollo 13 (1995), The Dish (2000)*, The Astronaut Wives Club (2015)**, Hidden Figures (2016), First Man (2018)*, and Apollo 11 (2019)**, arguing that while these films are about humans leaving earth, neither the films nor the history they represent successfully abandon earth’s baggage, specifically gender and race.
Continue reading “Space on Screen”
This is neither Friday nor is the film in question precisely a romance, but today’s subject is Damien Chazelle’s First Man (2018). I’ve wanted to watch it for months, and I finally had a few free hours to snag it from Redbox.
In the gap between its release and when I managed to see it, First Man received a critical reaction I’d characterize as positive but reserved and “only” four Academy Award nominations. So I went into it a bit apprehensive. If you enjoy what Genevieve Turner and I are doing with Fly Me to the Moon, however, I can almost guarantee you’ll adore First Man. While I have a few complaints, it’s visually stunning and a different take on the astronaut movie subgenre.
Continue reading “A Fine Romance Friday: First Man”
So if you’ve been thinking, “I’d like to hear Emma’s disembodied voice,” you’re in luck: I recently chatted with the lovely ladies at the Wicked Wallflowers Club about Earth Bound, Free Fall, how I spent years not writing my dissertation, politics, and phallic lobster Jell-O. Basically all the normal stuff.
You can listen to it here. But FYI, some of the language probably isn’t safe for work.
If you’re a Fly Me to the Moon fan and you’ve been waiting for the right moment to introduce your friends to the series, July 31 is the day. That’s when Genevieve and I will release a box set with Star Dust, Earth Bound, and A Midnight Clear plus bonus content aimed at book clubs. And the best part? It’s just 99 cents to preorder. This is the first time Earth Bound has ever been discounted. The price for the set will go up to $4.99 after release week–so click fast!
You can get the Fly Me to the Moon box set at Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play. The full blurb is after the break.
And I also wanted to mention that if you’re a reviewer, you can request a Free Fall ARC via this form. I’ll start sending them out today.
Continue reading “Box Set Preorder & Free Fall ARCs”
Genevieve and I are thrilled to announce the firm release date for Free Fall: July 31, 2018. It’s up for preorder at Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Kobo (Google Play coming soon!), plus you can add it your Goodreads shelves and check out the book’s Pinterest board. In addition to the e-book, it will be in print on approximately release day.
Free Fall is the funniest book in the Fly Me to the Moon series, but it’s also angsty and deeply emotional. It’s focused on the marriage of convenience between two very unlike people: a laconic astronaut and a vivacious sorority girl who find themselves with a baby on the way and the first American space walk mission to survive. There’s drama with the space suit design, bridge parties with astronaut wives, a hard-fought squash game, and furniture. Lots of furniture.
Genevieve and I started writing it almost two years ago and then, well, the world fell apart. It took us a long time to get back to a manuscript that felt, tonally, alien. But please keep in mind that we named Vivy Muller in October 2016.
I love this book, and I’m so excited for it to be out in the world. We also have a surprise–it’ll drop around the same time as Free Fall’s release–which I’m psyched about. Stay tuned!
On social media and over email, I’ve fielded several questions about what someone should read to learn more about the space race. While writing the Fly Me to the Moon series, I’ve inhaled dozes and dozens of space histories. So for prosperity’s sake, here’s what I recommend.
A few caveats: my list is focused on the period between Sputnik and Apollo 11 (or 1957 to 1969) and on US/Soviet crewed space flight. If you’re interested in rocketry, for example, that would be a whole other list and it would start a lot sooner.
Also, I’m not a scientist or engineer. So while I’m interested in the history of technology, I prefer books pitched to a general audience.
I do have a PhD in American studies, so my bias is for new history that is intersectional, considers the economic and social factors that create institutions, and includes marginalized voices.
Continue reading “Recommendation Club: Space Race History”
(This is a follow up about Star Crossed; you can read our first statement here.)
In the summer of 2014 when we started plotting the Fly Me to the Moon series, we penciled in a female/female romance about a would-be astronaut and a woman at the American Space Department. Much of the fiction and non-fiction about the space race is very masculine, very white, and very straight, and we didn’t want our fictional universe to replicate those exclusionary narratives. As we drafted the series and this specific story, we came to love to our heroines, Bev and Geri.
The day after releasing Star Crossed, we pulled the book because reviewers pointed out we’d deracinated Bev, who is African American, and given more weight to harassment and discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation than that based on race.
That wasn’t our intent, but intent isn’t enough. We spent eight months talking about and trying to revise Star Crossed, and while we made some progress, we have decided this isn’t our story to tell. We can fix the craft issues, but we can’t shake the feeling that for us to tell this story is narrative appropriation. We therefore have no plans to rerelease the book.
Continue reading “Second Statement re: Star Crossed”