Desert Moonfire: The Men Who Raced To Space

by Siobhan Logan

Across a century of war, social revolution and scientific innovation, two men chased their space dreams. Blending non-fiction and poetry, Siobhan Logan explores the extraordinary feats of rocketeers Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev.

From spaceflight clubs to gulags and concentration camps, Desert Moonfire does not flinch from the darker side of the moon race. In a narrative both chilling and exhilarating, Desert Moonfire captures the era when humans became a spacefaring species.

Product Details

Paperback: £7.99

  • A5 perfect bound paperback.
  • 142 pages.
  • Gloss finish.


“Siobhan Logan provides a fascinating and informative history of the space race across the twentieth century told through the lives of its two most famous pioneers, Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun. Through page-turning prose and poignant poetry, Logan captures the lives of these driven men and their aspirations, how they paralleled one another and how they differed, from von Braun’s controversial career as a Nazi scientist to Korolev’s denouncement and torturous years in a Siberian gulag. Along the way, health and intimate relationships are often sacrificed.

Logan’s poetry is very much like the men she is writing about: she refuses to be hemmed in by convention or form and lets her poems speak and breathe for themselves. Her poems also accomplish what some poets shy away from and find difficult to achieve, and that is a marriage of science and the arts. Desert Moonfire demonstrates that they are not separate entities but how each can celebrate the other.”

Charles Lauder, poet & editor, The Aesthetics of Breath, V Press 2019.

“Complex characters have been brought to life. The flamboyant, morally bankrupt von Braun and the romantically unfaithful victim of Stalin, Korolev. Their passion and the terrible wonder of the world they were creating has been vividly captured by Siobhan Logan’s poetry.

Scientists such as von Braun and Korolev shared a passion. One a spoiled brat, the other a child of revolution. One a privileged member of the SS, the other a survivor of purges and the gulag. Both shared the desire of physicists across the world: to imagine, to build and to discover.

Von Braun and Korolev were both set on their courses at such an early age. And their radically different environments show the importance of inspiring and nurturing children of all backgrounds. To squander such talents does a disservice to us all.”

David Wilkinson, physicist and author of The Anjelican Saga series.

“An excellent read! Siobhan Logan has produced a very topical history of the early years of the Space Race carefully crafted with original poetry. She focuses on some of the early Soviet and US pioneers, giving us an insight into what drove them in the roles they played in the greatest adventure of the 20th Century. Highly recommended.”

Ann Bonell, Leicester Astronomical Society