Norman Mailer, one of America's most colorful and talented writers, has died at 84.
Space afictionados will remember Mailer as the author of "Of a Fire On the Moon," certainly the most unique chronicle of Apollo 11. In this example of his "non-fiction fiction" style, mixing in a lot of his personal life and philosophy, Mailer showed a somewhat grudging admiration for a feat he thought was marred by the bland conformity of the agency and the voyagers carrying it out. He felt this conformity, even in post-Woodstock 1969, was a stifling force holding back all society - and yet, it produced Apollo.
In the book, he wrote: "The astronauts were the core of some magnetic human force called Americanism, Protestantism, or WASPitude... They were the knights of the Silent Majority, the WASP emerging from human history in order to take us to the stars."
He told an interviewer in 1973 about watching an Apollo launch: "It was a thunderingly beautiful experience -- voluptuous, sexual, dangerous, and expensive as hell."