REVIEW: Space Oddities by Joe Cuhaj
Nothing captivates the human imagination like the vast unknowns of space. Ancient petroglyphs present renderings of the heavens, proof that we have been gazing up at the stars with wonder for thousands of years. Since then, mankind has systematically expanded our cosmic possibilities. What were once flights of fancy and dreams of science fiction writers have become nearly routine – a continuous human presence orbiting the Earth, probes flying beyond our solar system, and men walking on the moon. NASA and the Russian space program make traveling to the stars look easy, but it has been far from that. Space travel is a sometimes heroic, sometimes humorous, and always dangerous journey fraught with perils around every corner that most of us have never heard of or have long since forgotten.
Space Oddities brings these unknown, offbeat, and obscure stories of space to life.
Filled with rare and little-known stories, Space Oddities will bring the final frontier to the homes of diehard space readers and armchair astronauts alike.
I couldn’t resist asking to read this book given the number of space exploration books I’ve reviewed here. To be honest, with this title I was expecting more weird and bizarre – though there were some stories that would fit that category. However as far as space stuff, most of what is here is more along the lines of trivia or, at best, little known.
But what did surprise me is how much information there is about how NASA and Roscosmos actively sought to increase diversity – NASA among their workers and Roscosmos with their cosmonaut corps. No, recruitment wasn’t pushed as far as it should have been for qualified pilots (women and men of color) and people of color in the US still faced ugly racism outside of work facilities in the South but there was more effort made than I’d ever thought. And (oh, the irony) who knew Werner von Braun took on George Wallace over it? The chapter about animals used to further knowledge about space capsule conditions wasn’t fun to read but the sex in space one was.
If you’re looking for facts and trivia to whip out at your next dinner party, “Space Oddities” should fit the bill. B