It’s been a good year for Canadian authors when it comes to outer space. This summer, when astronauts Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk visited the International Space Station, they took with them copies of space-themed books by Kenneth Oppel and Jean-Rock Gaudreault. Now, it seems that the work of Yann Martel will be given a celestial reading by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.
Tomorrow, the Quebec billionaire “ Canada’s answer to Richard Branson “ will become the first Canadian space tourist when he blasts off from a Kazakhstan cosmodrome to his destination at the International Space Station “ a 12-day round trip reportedly costing him in the range of $35 million. Lest you think him frivolous, Laliberté has described the trip as a “poetic social mission” meant to raise awareness about water issues. It will culminate, on Oct. 9, in a two-hour “artistic happening” that will be broadcast in 14 cities worldwide and feature a hodgepodge of activists and global celebrities, including Al Gore, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, Salma Hayek, and U2. The centrepiece of the event, however, will be Laliberté’s reading of a specially commissioned story by Martel, about the moon, the sun, and a drop of water.
Laliberté has said that he hopes the event will focus the world’s attention on a pressing issue facing humanity, but it’s hard to take him all that seriously. A former fire-eater and stilt-walker, Laliberté says he’ll be wearing a red clown nose when he takes off.