J.W. Rinzler’s ‘All Up’: Like Catnip for Space-Age Enthusiasts

I don’t usually promote books I haven’t yet finished, but I’m going to make an exception for J.W. Rinzler’s All Up: Odyssey of the Rocketmen. Not least of which is because it clocks in at over 750 pages, so it’ll take me a while to get through it.

But Rinzler already comes with my seal of approval. He wrote the seminal making-of books for the original Star Wars trilogy, had behind-the-scenes access during the prequels for his Making of Revenge of the Sith, edited the gorgeous Star Wars Storyboards books, and penned the stunning The Star Wars, Dark Horse’s graphic novel adaptation of Lucas’s original rough draft of the screenplay from 1974.

But his knowledge and interests don’t stop in the galaxy far, far away. (Check out my in-depth conversation with Rinzler from last year.)

Out this week is Rinzler’s first novel, and it is one heck of an achievement. All Up tells the epic behind-the-scenes tale of the three death-defying godfathers of the first Space Age: Wernher von Braun, Jack Parsons, and Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. The book is historical fiction, but it’s about real people and covers actual events. Rinzler has just taken a bit of creative license to dramatize key events.

Throughout the book, you’ll encounter a LOT of familiar faces and places: Robert Goddard, Walt Disney, Harry S. Truman, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Cape Canaveral, and the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

According to Rinzler, “About 85 percent of All Up is historically verifiable. But I’m doing it as a novel, so I can get into the heads of these historic personages. This way, I can also delve into the more esoteric material, such as extraterrestrials and alien ships, Freemasonry, magic, and cover-ups, which are nearly impossible to verify 100 percent in the nonfiction world, but which find their places easily in a novel.”

Rinzler is a meticulous and thorough researcher–which is evident in his Star Wars making-of books–and that same dedication is on display here. The book is long, intricate, and absorbing. It happily showed up on my iPad earlier this week (I had it preordered), so all I can say is thank goodness it’s a long holiday weekend.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. When he's not knee deep in a convoluted grammatical mess of a sentence, he's likely on an adventure with his two adorable ragamuffins. You can check out more of his ramblings on The Roarbots, StarWars.com, and Babble.