Monday, 18 November 2013
An Ultimate Destiny?
These questions necessitate discussion of radio wavelengths, language, planetary formation, biology, means of propulsion and colonial societies. Anderson ends with an sf vision of extra-Solar colonies not "...plundering..." but "...mak[ing] sensible use of their resources..." (p. 187), founding further colonies and eventually meeting "The older and higher races..." (p. 189).
"...we will go on, century after outward-looking century, discovering who knows what, growing in knowledge and wisdom as we travel." (ibid.)
This stretches the meaning of the word "we" a bit. Probably, most people most of the time will be more aware of their familiar, taken for granted, environments than of any centuries-long growth in knowledge and wisdom. However, Anderson acknowledges this:
"Few people will ever go spaceward with more than the vaguest thought of an ultimate destiny. They will go because they are curious, prideful, desirous of freedom, eager to improve the lot of the next generation." (p. 189)
Maybe. But conditions will have to have got pretty bad at home if people come to hope for freedom and betterment light years away. And maybe something can be done to improve those conditions instead of leaving them behind?
Anderson concludes that, even for those who stay behind, "...our enterprise beyond the sky will keep alive that sense of bravery, wonder, and achievement without which man would hardly be himself." (ibid.)
Such an enterprise will help to do that but meanwhile and, I think, indefinitely there are also bravery, wonder and achievement on Earth and in the Solar System.