The Book That Will Make You Rethink Space Travel (or Ever Leaving Home Again)
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because it’s funny. And might just be true.
By Kathryn Schroeder
Avid travelers tend to have a bucket list of places to see on Earth. That’s thinking small. Space, that massive unexplored frontier, is the ultimate travel destination. Take a walk on the moon? Sign me up. Colonize Mars? I’ll bring the sunscreen. Space travel sounds exciting, until you get down to the logistics of actually experiencing life far, far away from Earth. Turns out, it’s going to suck, as Don Moyer’s illustration-filled book Stay Home: The Ugly Truth About Space Travel clearly points out, humorously.
Because there will be uncomfortable space suits that make it impossible to scratch an itch. Hungry? Your dinner comes in a tube. You’ll also be exposed to life-forms packed full of infectious diseases and languages you can’t translate. While living in small spaces is a growing trend on Earth, you might have a different opinion when subjected to pod life. Same goes for the lack of long, hot showers. The book teaches you all this and more with its 21 punchy, text-filled pages accompanied by illustrations of described miseries and challenges.
Compiling warnings about the inconveniences of space travel was, for Moyer, a retired graphic designer, “a great excuse to … draw creepy aliens and exotic spacecraft.” You may think twice about accepting an offer to grab space coffee after seeing the unpleasant looking alien who’s offering it up. Moyer isn’t opposed to space travel: “I think it would be wonderful if more people would disappear into space.” He has a list of nominations at the ready.
The book will have frequent travelers laughing aloud as they recall their own travel horror stories.
Seriously, though, he finds the human desire to rocket through space wonderful and inspiring but is “naturally suspicious of the popular delusion that it is pleasant.” That’s why he addresses the myth with humor — and he nails it because it’s relatable to Earth travel. The book will have frequent travelers laughing aloud as they recall their own travel horror stories.
And since Moyer, before retiring, typically traveled three out of four weeks, he’s familiar with what can go wrong. “In making this book, I liked the idea that ordinary business travelers would recognize the classic vexations.” He turned to Kickstarter because that’s where all his “brilliant, self-inflicted projects” are crowdfunded — this is his 31st. The platform eliminates the risks, Moyer says, because if no one likes his idea enough to support it, it can just fade away. This book won’t — it surpassed its goal by more than $18,000.
Ever sat next to the plane hacker, who’s surely carrying the plague? Or someone who’s tissue usage is responsible for decimating a rain forest? How about 12 hours on a cramped bus without AC in the dead of summer? Or paying double than the locals for your room? That’s the tourist tax. (FYI: There is no tourist tax.) Out of underwear and in need of a laundromat? It’s the bathroom sink. As rewarding travel is, it can be challenging, to put it mildly.
For those who are just beginning to tackle a bucket list, the book is a great intro to life on the road, and, when things get rough, a way for any traveler to take a moment and have a much-needed laugh. You can grab Stay Home: The Ugly Truth About Space Travel from Moyer’s website for $14.95.
He’s only printing hard copies and defends his choice not to go digital: “I picture someone slipping this book into a departing friend’s luggage with a warm, I’ll-miss-you note written on the title page — when has a PDF ever become a cherished memento?” I’d hate to see the argument at check-in when that person’s carry-on is suddenly over the weight limit. Oh, wait, I have seen it — and nearly missed flights because of the holdup. Travel! It’s the best.
- Kathryn Schroeder, OZY Author Contact Kathryn Schroeder