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From the Earth to the Moon (Extraordinary Voyages)

From the Earth to the Moon (Extraordinary Voyages) - Bernard Mayes, Jules Verne As I mentioned in my status update, if I were a mathematician or an engineer, I'd probably love this book. I'm awful at math, and I think my brain pretty much lacks any of the "stuff" that makes engineers engineers, so this book was tough for me in terms of the mathematical and engineering detail.

That said, I spent 10 years of my life associating with engineers, and although I could barely understand a word they said, I truly came to admire their minds and their ability to create in a way that was completely inaccessible to me. Listening to this book on audio reminded me of the technical discussions that went on around me at that time; the problem-solving, proving, recalculating, reconfiguring, arguing, and the constant asking of questions at the drawing-board. The only thing lacking in From the Earth to the Moon were the jokes that only engineers understand and the swearing. This book did touch a place in my heart that recalled to my mind the admiration that I have for people who can wonder if something is possible, and who can then set about coming up with ways to make possibility reality. I didn't understand much of this book on an intellectual level (just like I didn't understand the engineers in my real life), but I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching brilliant (and maybe slightly crazy) people come up with a way to move the boundaries of science and of what is possible forward, and that left me with a vague thrill with this story.

I do wonder if I'd have enjoyed From the Earth to the Moon more if I had read it in print rather than listen to it on audiobook. I wasn't terribly excited by Bernard Mayes' voice or narrative style. His reading was fairly dry, and while I'm sure he read in a style consistent with the voice that was probably going on in Verne's head as he wrote, I think that it's possible that my own internal narrative voice might have read this with a little more animation.

I particularly enjoyed the ending of this book. Normally I'm not wild about cliffhangers, but in this case I thought that worked. Having been around engineers for a decade, I also saw that those first tests of realized ideas were nearly always cliffhangers. First time perfect success was exceedingly rare. More often there was a loud "POP," some smoke, and considerable swearing. Almost always the question of when perfect success would be achieved was left open.