Moon Landing Day

On July 20th, 1969…by Harry Harrison

How well I remember that day. In the living room gaping at the fuzzy image on the TV screen. My jaw as agape as that of my wife’s and our two children. SF come to life. Men actually walking on the moon.

Come to life—but not as predicted. Every SF rocket ship seems to have been launched from an inventor’s back yard. I am particularly taken by Flash Gordon’s initial trip. Forced aboard the homemade rocket by the evil Dr. Zarkov hero, heroine—and mad scientist—hurtle into space. Aiming at the invading planet Mongo which is about to crash into Earth. BANG! The rocket crashes into Mongo—diverting it from its crash course and saving Earth.

Then they crawl out of the wreck and go on many more adventures.

Ahh, there is nothing like realism in SF…

By hindsight it is painfully obvious that only a government can afford the great expense of space travel.

Is it? Has the wheel gone full circle and is Dr. Zarkov back in fashion? Many countries are talking about more moon landings, perhaps even visits to Mars. Big talk. Money available for the trips—zero.

But wait! Enter capitalism. There are now private companies talking up space travel, Trips for the rich. Why not? Apparently the market is right there.

So perhaps science fiction—and Dr. Zarkov—got it right after all.

But I strongly advice these optimistic companies not to emulate the good doctor’s landing technique.


Harry Harrison is an American and Irish science fiction author, perhaps best known for his Stainless Steel Rat series and the novel Make Room! Make Room!, the basis for the film Soylent Green.


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