Review – Spacecraft

Posted April 4, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review – Spacecraft


by Timothy Morton

Genres: Non-fiction
Pages: 144
Series: Object Lessons
Rating: one-star

Science fiction is filled with spacecraft. On Earth, actual rockets explode over Texas while others make their way to Mars. But what are spacecraft, and just what can they teach us about imagination, ecology, democracy, and the nature of objects? Why do certain spacecraft stand out in popular culture?

If ever there were a spacecraft that could be detached from its context, sold as toys, turned into Disney rides, parodied, and flit around in everyone's head-the Millennium Falcon would be it. Springing from this infamous Star Wars vehicle, Spacecraft takes readers on an intergalactic journey through science fiction and speculative philosophy, revealing real-world political and ecological lessons along the way. In this book Timothy Morton shows how spacecraft are never mere flights of fancy.

I really like the concept of the Object Lessons books — and it’s true that they don’t promise each book will be factual, just saying that each book is about the hidden life of an everyday thing. Nonetheless, the ones that aren’t really histories are often disappointing to me, and that’s so with Timothy Morton’s Spacecraft.

See, I’m not a big Star Wars fan. I saw the originals, and I saw the prequels, and I enjoyed them well enough, but I’ve not seen any of the more recent stuff, because I don’t watch many movies or TV shows at all and Star Wars just doesn’t draw enough enthusiasm from me. If it took me months to watch Good Omens (both the original series and then, after it came out, the second series), Star Wars has a “no hope” (see what I did there?).

This book is not about spacecraft. It’s about the Millenium Falcon, mostly, and a little bit about hyperspace, and a lot about object-orientated ontology (in which I have vanishingly little interest). I hoped I could get into it all the same, but… nope. To me, this is a waste of an option to write about what we understand about real spaceships, how they’ve impacted on our real lives.

Besides which, Morton’s narration just… went places. So many places. At seeming random. One topic would flow into another and I just couldn’t keep hold of the point.

Rating: 1/5

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2 responses to “Review – Spacecraft

  1. Ugh, see I would be very happy with an overview of fictional spacecraft, especially if it went beyond the typical Star Wars and Star Trek. But no, we get more Star Wars. And object-orientated ontology is the kind of philosophy that makes my eyes glaze over because even once I grasp it, I can’t see how it has anything to do with my actual life in any meaningful way. Philosophy for brains in jars, not people.

    • I wouldn’t dislike a discussion of fictional spacecraft, except that I begin to find recountings of other stories kind of reductive and tiresome after a fairly short time… But yeah, this one made my eyes glaze over a lot.

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