Lovell, Jim, and Jeffrey Kluger: Apollo 13

Truly, I am a slave to my moods and my sleep pattern—at least when it comes to picking something to read. Yesterday it was my sleep pattern.

I used to have a copy of Apollo 13 (formerly Lost Moon), by Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger, at my parents’ to read before bed; it has a few stand-alone chapters that work really well for that. Unfortunately, I left it on a low shelf in my room at a time when the puppy was still allowed in it. One chewed paperback and one torn-up bed underside later, the dog was barred from the room (literally; one of those pressure gates), and I needed a new copy of Apollo 13. I hadn’t got around to it until just now, though, using up the last of a gift certificate on it. I’d been re-reading this a bit at a time, but last night I had insomnia (gee, surprise) and finished it off.

As the change of title suggests, the very good movie was based on this non-fiction book. Having movie adaptations somewhat on the brain lately, it was interesting to re-read this and see the changes; some problems were ignored for simplicity’s sake, some were exaggerated for dramatic purposes, and some people were slower on the uptake than in the book, also for—I hope—dramatic purposes. The book provides excellent lucid descriptions of the challenges faced by the astronauts, and does a nice job of showing just how many people were working on the problem, without overwhelming the reader with different characters. If you enjoyed the movie, or are at all interested in space flight, I recommend this highly.

Trivia note of the day: There’s a chapter about Apollo 8, of which Lovell was also a member. Apollo 8 was not originally scheduled to circle the moon. In the hardcover of this book, which I read first from the library, there’s a note that the mission commander’s wife was rumored to be upset at the change, blaming someone in particular (I’ve forgotten who now). The reference to blaming a particular person has been removed from the paperback version.

The stuff clogging up my memory . . .

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