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Reading in space

So, you’re going to spend a few months on the International Space Station and need a few diversions. Since you just can’t stroll to the nearest library or video store and even Amazon and Netflix don’t deliver there, you’ve got to hope it’s got some good entertainment on hand. Some idea of what’s available came last year when governmentattic.org obtained a list of the books, movies and television shows on the space station for recreational/off-duty use.

Of the roughly 90 books, there’s a few classics, some popular fiction, works on American history and both Darwin’s Origin of Species and Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. But if any category predominates it appears to be science fiction. In addition, the only magazines I see on the list are Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

There’s equally wide variety in the videos and television shows, with the latter ranging from The O’Reilly Factor to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Among the movies and DVDs, you’ll still find a significant number of SF works, including several of the Star Wars films and the first season of Stargate SG-1. One thing I found surprising is that the space station also has the complete first season of Millennium, a Chris Carter-created series that ran from 1996 through 1999 (and a personal favorite of mine).

I don’t find the amount of SF all that surprising. After all, we’re talking about people with a deep desire and drive to go into space. SF certainly seems consistent with that interest. I am curious about the room required and the weight involved, particularly for books. I wonder if the space station has gone e-reader?


What the space program needs is more English majors.

Astronaut Michael Collins, quoted in First on the Moon

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