Tor.com turns one year old today, and in the finest hobbit tradition we are giving away presents to you!
Beginning imminently and over the next twenty-four hours, we will have a special prize (or prize package) every hour on the hour. These prizes will range from the silly to the sublime. But don’t take my word for it: stay tuned (or as we like to say, watch the skies) and pay attention to the giveaway posts, which will tell you how to enter to be eligible for these prizes.
When Tor.com launched exactly one year ago, we didn’t choose the day arbitrarily. July 20th is a special day in science fiction: it’s the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first setting foot on the moon, while Michael Collins orbited above. Today marks the 40th anniversary of that momentous event, and as such we wanted to take a moment to reflect on history. (I am sorry that Walter Cronkite cannot share this day.) The official NASA website has a spectacular retrospective up right now, and wechoosethemoon.org has a really neat interactive archive if you want to explore and learn more about the Apollo 11 mission.
It’s easy now, with hindsight, to be cynical about the whole affair. We’re all familiar with the criticism: The Apollo program was an enormous money sink. It was a distraction from Vietnam. It began for all the wrong reasons. Astronauts died to get us there. There wasn’t much on the moon, and we didn’t learn nearly enough from our excursion to justify the price (either monetarily or in human lives). It was a waste.
All these things are true. And none of them matter.
My entire life I have known that men landed on the moon. This was not a moment I held my breath for, or dreamed of, or imagined only in books or films or art. It happened long before I was born and has never been anything but a fact. It’s so distant that to me, it’s science fiction. Yet more than any single event in scientific history, a moment that I was not even alive for is still the most inspiring goddamn thing I’ve ever known. Every time I look at those images I am moved by the breadth of human ingenuity. All my cynicism is replaced by a belief that with passion, hard work, and perseverance, we can overcome any barrier—even the ones we didn’t know we had set for ourselves. We can achieve any measure of greatness. We can become our fiction and make our dreams something tangible, attainable.
We can touch the sky.
Nothing in my own lifetime has ever filled me with that kind of hope or inspiration—nothing but science fiction.
With that in mind, I’ve asked authors, artists, critics, and fans in the science fiction community to send me their stories of what they were doing when the LEM landed on the lunar surface, and to tell me how it informed their relationship with science fiction. What you’ll be seeing throughout today on Tor.com are personal glimpses of a moment in history.
So where were you that day, and how did it inform your relationship with science fiction?
Housekeeping note: All the images you will see today are public domain images from NASA.