While fellow astronauts of Apollo 15 explored the lunar surface, Al Worden piloted the command module. His solo journey in lunar orbit lasted three days. I didn’t feel lonely or isolated. I was much more comfortable flying by myself than with others. In fact, I most enjoyed the back side of the moon, where Houston couldn’t get hold of me on the radio. The moon looked enormous from such a low orbit. I glimpsed tall central peaks of craters before I saw the surrounding low rims. With no atmosphere to soften the view, every crater and boulder was sharp and crisp. Mountains cast long slashes of blackness across the landscape, and features stood out as if I had placed a flashlight against a rough stucco wall. The moon was overwhelmingly majestic, yet stark and mostly devoid of color. Every orbit, however, I was treated to the sight of the distant Earth rising over the lunar landscape. (Pages 188-92, Al Worden, Falling to Earth.)
The sun has a diameter of 1,391,980 kilometers, 109 times as big as the Earth. The moon has a diameter 3,475 kilometers, a quarter that of the Earth, 1/436th that of the sun. And yet, in our sky, they are exactly the same size.*
What’s it mean?
*Thanks to David Grinspoon for this observation in Lonely Planets.
Oblivion epitomizes everything about science fiction that makes the genre frustratingly mediocre at best. The biggest problem is the complete lack of originality, beginning with the predictable post-apocalyptic setting first seen in Planet of the Apes – the poor old Statue of Liberty buried yet again;a hodge-podge of futuristic themes, combining The Matrix (machines taking over), Total Recall (memory problems) and Moon (clones running the show); the inevitable twist (clones/machines who care) derivative of everything from Terminator to Short Circuit; and the sickeningly silly ending of the vanquished evil mother-ship, reminiscent of Star Wars and everything since. While there might be a few decent plot reveals, they always turn to disappointment and the endless parade of effects. In the end, it isn’t anything more than a vehicle for Mr. Cruise. Which leads me to the real question: What’s next? Might he be interested in piloting The Ark?