Ad Astra Isn’t Based On Anything But Really Serious Science

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Now that we’ve seen Brad Pitt go where few men (and women) have gone before out into space, you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on more Space Brad Pitt, like say, via some spacey source material. There’s good news and there’s bad news here because unfortunately, Ad Astra is not based on a book or comic.
It's an original story, which means that there aren’t any more space adventures with Roy McBride. The Pitt-starrer was written by director James Gray and co-writer Ethan Gross, and their intent was to make an eerily realistic sci-fi movie.
He’s been talking about making this movie for almost a decade, and in 2013 told IndieWire, “the intention is to make a film which is almost science fact, and it takes place entirely in space...the idea is a kind of mental breakdown in space, and to do it almost like Apollo footage: incredibly realistic — so no sound in space, obviously — and to do it distinguishing itself with the idea that, in a way, human beings need the earth.”
To write it, Gray and Gross looked to past Apollo missions, which means that while the whole story of Ad Astra is absolutely futuristic, dealing with potential space travel realities that we've not yet made real, it’s actually based on a lot of truth and projection, both on land and up in the atmosphere. 
The result is a look at what reality might look like when and if space travel, to places like the moon, becomes a viable commercial option for regular people. What might crime look like? What moral dilemmas would arise? How might corruption infiltrate this brave new world? And how does all this interplanetary travel affect humans' minds, bodies, and souls?
"We hope to add something different, instead of repeating," said Pitt at a recent Ad Astra panel, hosted by the Washington Post.
Over the years there have certainly been dozens, if not hundreds and thousands, of different epic space stories. In fact, Fall alone seems to be the prime time to release space narratives, from 2013's Gravity, 2014's Interstellar, to 2015's The Martian, and 2018's First Man, it's not really Fall if a major studio hasn't released a movie about space.
There is also a book out there that, while unrelated to this new movie, actually bears the same name. The book Ad Astra has no discernable intentional connection to the finished movie. Written by Jack Campbell (which is a pen name for John Henry), the book is a collection of short stories revolving around space exploration but are all focused around human psychology. The new Pitt movie also touches on such things, given that it is really about McBride’s own journey through his life to find his lost-in-space father. Ad Astra contains about a dozen connected stories in this Campbell anthology, but if you’re looking for something more serialized there’s also his Lost Fleet saga which actually tells a continuing story about trying to explore and conquer the galaxy. Just without Pitt's Roy McBride.
So while there might not be more space stories for you to imagine Pitt still playing McBride, there are certainly plenty of other “to the stars” stories out there.

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