Saturday, 6 June 2015

Chaotic Terrain

Brian Aldiss wrote somewhere that human beings have successively populated first the Terrestrial environment, then the the Solar System, then other planetary systems, with nonhuman intelligences. He thought that, in all three cases, human qualities were being projected onto the external universe: anthropomorphism.

Poul Anderson would have welcomed human-alien contact but, with systematic thoroughness, wrote fictional accounts of interstellar exploration both with and without such contact. SM Stirling's "Lords of Creation" series, with its populated Venus and Mars, is wish fulfillment fiction. Alan Moore's post-organic, post-mortal character, Doctor Manhattan (see image), teleports to Mars where, when asked about the significance of life, says that he prefers:

chaotic terrain;
Mons Olympus;
the four miles deep, three thousand miles long, Valles Marineris, with day at one end and night at the other, where temperature differences cause shrieking winds to herd oceans of fog.

But then he is persuaded to value the thermodynamic miracle of each individual human birth.

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