I was taking a walk on earth forty years ago when men were walking on the moon. Unlike everyone else, it seems, I wasn’t sitting in front of a television. For one, we didn’t have a television, for another, the whole thing seemed rather ho-hum to an inveterate reader of science fiction. If we hadn’t been there in truth, we’d been there in stories, in imagination. So, oblivious to the excitement, I went for a walk.
The passing years — and all the movies and the books about the subject — didn’t change my mind. Perhaps it was as great an achievement as people seemed to think. Perhaps we had wasted our money in a moon race instead of solving our problems here on earth as many said. But the matter never caught my attention. Until . . . The Dish.
The Dish, a movie released in 2000, tells the story of the Australian participation in the 1969 moon landing. A dish, placed in the middle of a sheep paddock in Parkes, Australia, was to actually transmit the landing and moonwalk to the world.
Why did this movie about a little known aspect of the mission catch my attention? The characters. The quirky characters, their humor, and their excitement to be a part of this major undertaking made me experience, for the first time, the wonder of the achievement.
Thinking of the Apollo landing (now why would I be thinking about that today? Hmmmm) and subsequently The Dish, I was reminded that if we filter our stories through the eyes of our characters, if we make the characters excited about the events of our story worlds, if we make them want to know the facts of our worlds, then we will allow our readers to experience the excitement for themselves.
(What, you thought I’d pass on the chance for an object lesson about writing? Surely, you know me better than that by now!)