The story seems like a chance for Hanks to burn off his excess research for “Apollo 13”: A motley bunch of friends set off on a trip around the moon, in a space capsule named for Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, as if it were a casual day trip. They pack granola bars, takes selfies in space, queue up some tunes. The narrative is amusing, even if the writing turns out to be a strange mix of colloquial storytelling (“The iPads we took had something like seventy billion times the capacity of those Apollo-era dial-ups and were mucho handy. . .”) and scientific prose (“the attitude jets in pulse mode, yawing and pitching the Alan Bean for views of some of the few stars that were visible in the naked sunlight: Antares, Nunki, the globular cluster NGC 6333. . .”)
But before aspiring novelists get up in arms over unfair treatment, remember that the Oscar winner isn’t just an actor. He’s written before, including scripts for the cute comedy “That Thing You Do” and the less memorable “Larry Crowne,” both of which he also directed.
This also isn’t the first time the New Yorker has published scribblings from showbiz stars. Jesse Eisenberg has contributed some legitimately funny “Shouts & Murmurs” pieces (check out “Marv Albert Is My Therapist“). Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham and Steve Martin have shared some humorous essays and personal narratives as well, Martin even coming through with a remembrance of Earl Scruggs.
But actor fiction does appear to be a new thing for the New Yorker — which thus far has even managed to resist the prose stylings of James Franco, who found a home at Vice instead.