Saturday, August 18, 2018

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery

Cover image for Endurance : a year in space, a lifetime of discovery
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery 
by Scott Kelly
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017, 387 pages, Autobiography

The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he describes navigating the extreme challenges of long-term spaceflight, both existential and banal: the devastating effects on the body; the isolation from everyone he loves and the comforts of Earth; the pressures of constant close cohabitation; the catastrophic risks of depressurization or colliding with space junk, and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home.

Scott Kelly’s autobiography is half an account of daily life during his year aboard the International Space Station, and half an account of the different turns his life has taken in order to give him the opportunity to be an astronaut. This combines to create a book that was really compelling to me. Although Kelly’s life is very different from my own, he still deals with the disappointments, setbacks and struggles we all face. I also appreciated Kelly’s positivity about his experience in space, while not being afraid to discuss the negatives: things like the effects living in space can have on you, and the problems that arise from living away from the ones you love.

Kelly makes a number of parallels between being one of the first to spend a year in space, and Ernest Shackleton, the explorer who famously spent a year stranded in Antarctica. In fact, the title of Kelly’s book is based on both the ship Shackleton used in his voyages, and on the well-known book about Ernest Shackleton by Alfred Lansing.


1 comment:

Breanne said...

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Kelly himself. A few times I tried to listen to it as I fell asleep, but it was too darn interesting and at times even gripping, and it never worked for putting me to sleep. But obviously, I really enjoyed this. Kelly seems like a cool guy, and I think he's done a great job writing both the story of his life and a recounting of his historic year in space. He included a lot of insightful personal feelings and details, more than I would have expected from someone who seems very disciplined and practiced at controlling emotions, but it made for a really relatable book. I also enjoyed all the details of his year in space, learning about the mental challenges as well as the physical and professional ones. Maybe this was right up my alley and that made it easy to enjoy, but this impressed me with its compelling storytelling and heart.
Note for audiobook listeners: he is a bit of a slow narrator, so getting this on a platform where you can speed up the audio is helpful.