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July 20, 2009

Forty years on
Posted by Patrick at 10:03 AM * 44 comments

A year ago today, launched on the thirty-ninth anniversary of the first moon landing. Today, on that web site’s first anniversary and Apollo 11’s 40th, is running a series of memoirs and reflections about the events of July 20th, 1969, by Kage Baker, Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Jeffrey A. Carver, C. J. Cherryh, Phyllis Eisenstein, Fritz Foy, Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, Nancy Kress, Geoffrey A. Landis, David Langford, Gregory Manchess, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., me, Teresa, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl, Kit Reed, Rudy Rucker, Pamela Sargent, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, and David Weber. The series is going up a post at a time—Teresa’s will appear early this afternoon, and mine later in the evening—so drop in a few times during the day.

The site is also giving away various geeky prizes, some worthy and some silly. Kudos to Torie “Yes, That’s Her Real Name” Atkinson for pulling together this whole one-day event.

Comments on Forty years on:
#1 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 11:29 AM:

And, for whatever it's worth, I put some memories of my own on my LiveJournal page. They're a bit mixed with family stuff, but as I mentioned we'd just been to my cousin's wedding. (Her anniversary is hard to forget now.)

#2 ::: Kirby ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Very cool. It makes me a little wistful - born in 1974, there really isn't an equivalent televised moment of wonder for my generation. (Especially not in the realm of science.) To be sure, we've witnessed more than our fair share of technological revolutions, but, the discovery of these has tended to be more personal and often gradual.

On the other hand, so much of the commentary is colored by the idea of that promise being unfulfilled, maybe... no, it's still better to have dreamt once and fallen short, to one day dream again.

#3 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 11:49 AM: appears to be slashdotted at the moment.

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 11:57 AM:

I can't get through either.

And it's interesting to note that was the same summer (within a month!) of Stonewall.

#5 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:10 PM:

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive..."

We're perhaps coming to the end of the generation whose experience of the world and history in the making is mainly mediated through television. But it was my generation. And there are things we all remember seeing live on, or first hearing about from, TV that we will never forget. Lots of them are terrible things, there's not much point in going through them. But some of them were wonderful.

I'll never forget (I hope) seeing those pink rocks on Mars, and not quite understanding why almost no-one else in the crowded Student Union bar I was in was thrilled by it. Or Nelson Mandela walking out of prison.

But the most memorable of them all was Apollo 11, when I was 12 years old. And being allowed to stay up all night (almost) to see them leave the LEM and walk on the Moon. And still being awake in the morning when someone went out to get a copy of the paper, which was about little else, in my eyes anyway (was it the Observer? Was the landing on a Saturday?)

#6 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:10 PM:

They must be getting swamped.
Anyone in the know about when part 7 of Makers will be posted?

#7 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:35 PM:

I am personally annoyed. I should be living on Mars by now.

#8 ::: Karen Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Congratulations on the first year. The giveaways are a cool idea, but after trying to comment four times and being told that I entered the wrong set of blurry letters each time I'm giving up.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 02:02 PM:

Kirby@2: I think you'll find that the collapse of the WTC towers is going to be the same kind of completely-remembered television event. Nowhere near as positive, but still major.

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 02:57 PM:

We ( are, alas, having technical problems--some kind of database glitch, or perhaps the hamsters have wandered off to smoke opium and guzzle absinthe. At least the front page loads now, which wasn't true a couple of hours ago.

Teresa's piece just now went live.

#11 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 03:32 PM:

I posted for a prize drawing and found out I was not able to use my own name there because someone else claimed it first.

So is one of us a poster and one an im poster?

#12 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 05:28 PM:

I had to re-sign up even though I am getting all the notifications it lost me. Ahh well.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 05:37 PM:

I love the Scissors, Paper, Rock, Lizard, Spock T-shirt. It made me write my first sonnet in a year or so.

The lizard rests and thinks it's quite alone
Since now that pesky Spock lies poisoned by.
But then the twisted scissors catch its eye
And darting to evade them, it meets stone.
For poisoned Spock, before it was too late
Was briefly vanished from the universe
Then, in a sudden, startling reverse
Returned when his disproof the lizard ate.
The stone, with reptile innards slimed, in paper
Now is wrapped. And thus it blunts the blades
Of snipping, snapping scissors. Then it fades
As phaser-blasts reduce its bulk to vapor.
I know the winning choice is purely random
But entry and amusement run in tandem.

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 06:49 PM:

Oh and Trey, #6: Part 7 of Makers will go up tomorrow.

#15 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Having been somewhere in the blastula stage at the time of the event, I have no recollections of the Moon landing.

It was such a big event that it pushed me into buying a television set.

Regrettably, I have to say this about 9/11. Since I could only buy a TV after the event, I may have been one of the few Americans not to see the WTC collapse live. I saw it in interminable replay, of course.

#16 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 07:21 PM:

OT, but if anyone can help me, you folks can:
Short story, fantasy, recent. Full text was available online, linked within the last year or so. Award-winning? One day dogs begin to talk. They tell stories. People abandon them in droves - fear, guilt, so on. Begin killing them. Narrator tries to save a pack. Hurts one's heart to read it. Possibly mentioned here. Thought I bookmarked it; apparently not. Searches so far are fruitless. Anyone?

#17 ::: Sarah W. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 07:43 PM:

I was but a determined (and after seven years, somewhat desperate) twinkle in my parents' eyes, and would remain so for another two months. But my mother has told me that the Moon Landing convinced her that she and Dad were right to keep trying to bring children into the world, despite its troubles and theirs.

So, thank you Apollo 11, without which a twinkle might have been all there was of me.

#18 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Putting Apollo 11 to the side for a moment, I just want to say how well has turned out - it addresses the only real deficiency of Making Light - not enough SF talk!

Well done.

#19 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 09:10 PM:

Dan S. @ 16: I don't know about that one, but the plot sounds remarkably similar to "Tobermory" by "Saki" (H.H. Munro), in the 1911 book The Chronicles of Clovis.

#20 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 12:52 AM:

Dan S. @ 16: I remember that one too. Try checking out recent Hugo/Nebula/etc nominees - those are usually the only short stories I read.

#21 ::: Rob Rusick spots spam @21 ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 03:01 AM:

Generic spam spotted @21.

#22 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 03:43 AM:

abi@13: Lovely!

Pamela Dean has a nice reminiscence of the moon landing on her LJ. For myself, though I was born before it, not enough before that I remember anything about it. About my only actual memory of the moon missions is seeing a newscast with a broadcaster on a Moon set, and I was young enough to be confused and think that he was actually on the Moon. That probably would have been during one of the later ones, but I have no idea which.

#23 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 06:56 AM:

shadowsong @20 - ah ha! it was looking for nebula awards (final ballot, anyway) that got it -
The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change, by Kij Johnson (should have known).

Thanks! And Joel @19, thanks for the Saki!

#24 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 08:28 AM:

Torie really did do an incredible job on this.

#25 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 09:16 AM:

Kirby @ #2 wrote: It makes me a little wistful - born in 1974, there really isn't an equivalent televised moment of wonder for my generation. (Especially not in the realm of science.) To be sure, we've witnessed more than our fair share of technological revolutions, but, the discovery of these has tended to be more personal and often gradual.

Not scientific, but I was born in 1972 and find the fall of the Berlin Wall to be this sort of memory.

Yes, we were anticipating that there would be some sort of opening up - but that night, in that way, was breathtaking. World-shaking political change doesn't typically come in the form of a spontaneous street party.

#26 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 11:19 AM:

I can't say I remember precisely where I was during the moon landing broadcasts. I was 8 at the time, and I was born on the day Gemini 7 went up. My early years are full of hazy memories of staying up late, getting up early, or having TV sets wheeled into classrooms to watch one launch or another. (This being summer, it was undoubtedly one of the get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night ones.) I pored over magazines and newspapers and interactive sticker books about space travel. I agree fully with Larry @7 that I should be living on Mars by now.

One of the things I like about the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville AL is the giant poster of an astronaut on the moon with a caption something along the lines of "Time to go for a walk again."

#27 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Moment of realisation from reading Pamela Sargent's article.

My grandmother, my mother's mother, was old enough to have read a nwespaper account of the Wright Brother's flight. She almost certainly did. (Her future husband, my grandafatehr who I never met, was already adult, had left Scotland, worked in India and Africa for some years, and returned home)

But Gran lived long enough for travelling to the moon to have become history. Something that many of us knew we weren't about to do again any day soon.

That's weird. And I don't think my generation has seen anything like the kind of technical advance that actually changed the way people live that my grandparents did. (And maybe their grandparents even more so - they went from the invention of the railway to flight)

Or maybe the advances that will be remembered in future are the one we harly notice because we are part of them.

"Where's my rocket pack?"

#28 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 12:52 PM:

I've enjoyed the coverage of this, but I feel a bit sorry for all the writers who submitted essays. Any one of them could have inspired a great deal of conversation and comment, but with so many at once, it seems as if conversation couldn't get enough of a focus to develop.

I don't know if or how they get paid, but my guess is that some of the payback for an author who is active at is getting good conversation and response from the fans.

#29 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 01:00 PM:

Summer, early Sixties, Langley AFB -- On a blazing hot Tidewater Virginia day, at a parade given in honor of the original seven Astronauts:

"Mommy -- those aren't astronauts, where are their spacesuits?"

Flash forward 30+ years to a warm Spring day in Columbus, Ohio -- a Welcome Home parade for a retiring Senator...John Glenn.

I was there...

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 01:25 PM:

My father said, looking at Viking's pictures of Mars, that if they got the bugs out of the life-support systems, he'd like to go.

My current wallpaper at work is that Cassini mosaic, looking back past Saturn toward the inner system, with the tiny blue dot that's Earth just showing through the rings.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Results are up.

I didn't win, which is fine. Congratulations to those who did!

Many thanks to all of the people who contributed their memories. Since I was -7 months old at the time, I have to get my sensawunda secondhand on this.

And at least 40,000 kudos* to Torie for all of her hard work!

* Yes, I know.

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 02:18 PM:


#33 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 04:34 PM:


re 28: Consider that a sufficiently long-lived person born in 1815 could remember both the introduction of railroad locomotives and the first flights at Kitty Hawk.

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 05:12 PM:


#35 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 05:16 PM:

I love, love the sonnet, Abi.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Kudo's what?

(Sorry, couldn't resist. Must get etched now.)

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 08:34 PM:

How many qwatloos for 40000 kudos?

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 08:43 PM:

Serge, you're basically asking "What's the QTL-KDS exchange rate?" The answer is "Bid or asked?" and also "You mean right now?" because it will change all the time.

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 08:57 PM:

Xopher @ 40... The economics of the situation are further complicated by the well-known fact that kudos issued by la Banque Sutherland are priceless.

#40 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2009, 09:17 PM:

My mother reminisces about the moon launch. (She says they got one thing wrong in editing: it was the AM dial, not the FM.)

When she read the big launch scene in Spin, she said yes, it was like that.

#41 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Strangely enough, though I was old enough to have remembered the Apollo 11 landing, and since I remember my sister with a petition in support of the Apollo 8 astronauts, I honestly don't remember the moon landing as it happened. I've seen video since, and I've always been a fan of space travel, but I have no personal memories of Apollo 11. I actually know, even though I was much too young to remember, where I was when John Kennedy got shot. Mom told me that later.

#42 ::: Earl sees foul and most foreign spam at 43 ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Not French, though.

#43 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2009, 07:55 AM:

Caroline, #41: that's a lovely piece.

#44 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2009, 10:25 AM:

Meanwhile I am reduced to editing Wikipedia articles about Russian moonbats who claim that the Saturn V was really a camouflaged S-1B, and that a lower velocity means a lighter rocket.

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