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ROCKET DREAMS

(Chatto & Windus | The Free Press)

Shortlisted for the Eugene Emme Award

A provocative look at our fascination with space, from the first moon landings, seen through my child’s eyes, to the implications of our cyberworlds – blooming and blossoming across the internet when I lived in San Francisco as an adult.

Rockets Dreams shows how all the dreams that went into moonflight in the 1960s found new homes in often unexpected places. The space opera of alien visitation – whose crowning apotheosis was Roswell – assimilated the Apollo era’s failure to pinpoint our place in the universe. Gaia was the answer to our dawning sense of cosmic loneliness. Shopping malls became our starships. All our outwardly directed ambitions of exploration and conquest turned inwards. Just as the all-encompassing void of outer space found its correlate in the dark, unplumbed depths of the unconscious mind, so the boundless extent of space’s unmapped territories migrated into our infinitely expandable online clouds.

I talk about the book here: ‘Rocket Dreams’

REVIEWS

‘Marina Benjamin asked an ingeniously simple question: Whatever happened to the Technicolor dreams of the Space Age? Her search for answers led to a vast subcontinent of popular culture that I, for one, never knew existed—a place where technology merges with our persistent longing for transcendence. The result is a deeply insightful combination of reportage and meditation, and it just may contain the code for where the species is headed. I was entertained, educated, fascinated.’
—James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle’s War and To Conquer the Air

‘Perceptive and wonderfully written, Rocket Dreams is a provocative musing on the cultural heritage of spaceflight.’
—Roger D. Launius, Space Times

‘Rocket Dreams is [Marina Benjamin’s] quicksilver tour, teasing out the threads of imagination that once streamed into space, around a world that has shrunk but has grown complicated. Agile insights and melodic phrasing make the trip a lot of fun.’
— Marek Kohn, Evening Standard

‘This is the sort of book that catches you in its tracking-beam, transports you heavenwards, packs a load of sophisticated data into your primitive brain, and deposits you on a lonely road in Arizona…But the world of this book is topsy-turvy, too: with proofs and theories intermingled, conclusions and premises juggled in a dazzling kind of way.’
—Lynne Truss, The Sunday Times

‘What is clever about Benjamin’s book, and sets it apart from the usual threnody to the men with the ‘right stuff,’ is that it identifies the crossover points between cyberspace and outer space. . . . This book is an eloquent response to a historical failure.’
— Pat Kane, The Independent

‘Benjamin’s fascinating cultural history of American utopianism argues that “the slow-to-evolve human psyche still has trouble adjusting to the post-Copernican reality of our loneliness, inconsequentiality and ultimate smallness’. We just want friends, and we want to feel special.’
—David Jays, Financial Times