"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Saturday, March 13, 2021

For All Mankind 2.4: Close to Reality

I'll start this review by saying episode 2.4 of For All Mankind up on Apple TV+ today was my favorite episode so far of this second season.  The reason is that, for a variety of reasons, it coaxed me into nearly believing that this alternate history was a real history, and what I was watching was a true story of astronauts who had made it to the Moon really planning on riding to Mars in the early 1980s.  This episode really felt like that was the way it truly was and was supposed to be, and we are the ones living in the alternate history of coming out of the pandemic and all of that when we're not watching For All Mankind on the screen.

John Lennon not assassinated and organizing a conference for peace in the early 1980s was one big reason.  The Pathfinder as a ship that will go to Mars and how it will be crewed was another reason.   Both seemed as natural and as meant to happen as the sun rising tomorrow (and setting an hour later on Sunday, just sayin').

I also, for once, liked every single one of the personal stories in this episode.  Molly appointed by Ed to take over for him at NASA, after he appoints himself to lead the mission to Mars, felt right.   So did Ed's giving Danielle the captain's seat in the Moon mission.  Even Tom Payne seemed the most human, and it was inspiring to hear how much he, too, believes in out future in space.

The very ending, of course, was literally and figuratively a call back to Earth.  One way in which the alternate reality of For All Mankind and our real existences coincide is that even getting slightly off this planet always carries spur-of-the-moment life and death risks.

See also For All Mankind, Season 1 and Episode 2.1: Alternate Space Race Reality ... For All Mankind 2.2: The Peanut Butter Sandwich ... For All Mankind 2.3: "Guns to the Moon"

       John Lennon and the space program here too

*** Note added 27 October 2023:  Check out my review of Jack Dann's new book, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

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