I thank my high school astronomy teacher for two things: One is teaching me how to use a DSLR camera, and the other is instilling a love of astronomy in me. I spent this past Christmas morning cuddled in bed with a cup of coffee - watching the James Webb Space Telescope launch. This was something my teacher in high school told us about nearly a decade ago. It’s a quiet part of my life, reminding me of the wonder and possibility of humanity, as well as the significance of our insignificance.
Space. It’s hard to reach for space when it feels like your world is on fire, yet we do it. It’s hard to imagine our world without the bounds of technology we have, and yet a lot of it came out of the space race and the space programs. Two seemingly opposite places, The United States, and Russia have so much more in common than I think we ever realize.
Someone who knows this intimately is none other than you absolutely guessed it. Lance Bass of NSYNC.
Okay, that segue seems terrible, but it’s real. It’s a real hook that worked very well and is a very real thing. Lance Bass of NSYNC is a trained Russian cosmonaut. After listening to this podcast, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he, too, was watching a Space Telescope Launch on Christmas morning. This man loves space, and he almost hosted a reality TV show sending people up in Russian rockets in the early 2000s. Things fell through and he had to pay Russia a million dollars but he got his certificate, and along with it some exceptional insight. Not just into space training and travel, but into the mind of the man many referred to as the last Soviet.
Across these eight episodes, we are told a twisting and winding story. It is the story of a man who decided to risk his life and his sanity to protect the first space station as the Soviet Union collapsed hundreds of miles below. Sergei Krikalev became a hero as the whole world changed, borders that he couldn’t see collapsed, and the USSR once again became Russia.
Each twenty to forty-minute episode gives us a little more into the life of each of these superstars, and how an American pop star and a Russian cosmonaut have more in common than most of us might think. From Kaleidoscope and iHeart, The Last Soviet is an insightful, and thought-provoking exploration of what happened then, and how that reaches now. The luscious tones of Bass’ voice are just a perk to this incredible story. The range of connections deftly navigated by this team serves as a particularly poignant reminder of our humanity. There’s not just science, but there’s history, family, friendship, and hope wrapped up in this deceptive spaceship.
Pair all of this great storytelling with a design that’s like dessert for the ears, you’ll not only be hooked on this podcast - but possibly more of Kaleidoscope’s work. This studio has a knack for nailing not just the information of a story, but the emotional draw. The Last Soviet is just the latest in a string of great work from this team. Check out my release day reviews of Obsessions: Wild Chocolate and Skyline Drive if you’re interested.
Listen to The Last Soviet here
If you liked the space aspect of this podcast, consider my review of NASA’s Curious Universe. If you like my reviews in general, please subscribe to The Monthly Magpie. On the first Friday of every month, you’ll get a recap of the previous month’s reviews without having to find me in your social media feed.
If you still like social media you can find me in most places at IAmKeelinIt.