Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Next Millennium

A standard sf scenario is the expansion of our civilization onto an interplanetary, then an interstellar, scale in the next few centuries. The background details of many stories might be interchangeabale. It might even be possible, with minimal editing, to incorporate diverse short stories and novels into a common future history. In fact, Heinlein did partly cobble together the first part of his Future History. Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization begins with a University on the Moon and with the exploration of the outer Solar System in the mid-twenty first century.

Anderson's Time Patrol series is about time travel and history, not about space travel or the future. However, of necessity, it sketches a future history with the colonization of the Moon, Venus, Mars and the Saturnian moons in successive centuries. On exactly the same time scale, Elliot S. Maggin has people in the twenty ninth century celebrating Miracle Monday throughout the Solar System and in this part of the Galaxy. I used to assume that such a future was assured but now I am less sure.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

To comment first on the last sentence of this blog piece of yours, I only WISH we already had bases and colonies on the moon and Mars, plus prospectors exploring the asteroid belt for minerals and metals NOW!!! I wish so much O'Neill habitats were being built! And, Jerry Pournelle, in his Co-Dominium timeline, had a FTL means of interstellar travel called the Alderson drive, invented by 2008. That's already in our PAST and almost NOTHING major has been done about getting off this rock!

There are times I even wish the otherwise unlamented USSR had done better during the so called Space Race with the US. Some really tough competition from the USSR might have gotten the US off it's lazy rear end begin taking space seriously. That's what S.M. Stirling shows us as happening in his two Lords of Creation books.

And I think one of my favorite collections of short stories by Poul Anderson is SPACE FOLK, because of the different ways he speculates about mankind getting off Earth (successfully or not). Interested readers should take note as well of Anderson's too brief "Commentary" in that book, giving us his views about space and why we need to take it seriously.

Anderson's "The Saturn Game" begins with a quote from a fictional scholarly paper pub. by a university on the Moon in AD 2057. I only HOPE we have something REAL on the Moon by then!


S.M. Stirling said...

Well, SpaceX has been doing some very significant work; now they've got fully reusable rockets tested, and their (also reusable) heavy lifter is being tested this year. Musk is consciously modeling himself on Harriman from Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon", and I believe he means it about Mars colonization.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Yes, I have heard of Elon Musk and his SpaceX company, and I wish them COMPLETE success in their labors! One thought I've had for a long time is that the Space Shuttle was a disastrous and time wasting dead end. The way to go was via the kind of SSTO space vehicle advocated by Jerry Pournelle. I'm glad SpaceX seems to be working along those lines.

And I absolutely hope Mr. Musk manages to found a colony on Mars SOON. And I hope he is aware of Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner's book THE CASE FOR MARS, in which, among many other things, the authors discussed how a colony on Mars could use the resources to be found on there to help make it self sustaining.

Mr. Musk was inspired by Heinlein's Harriman from THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON? A very good role model, I agree! And I would suggest as well Poul Anderson's entrepreneur Anson Guthrie, from his HARVEST OF STARS.

This is a good excuse and occasion to list a few books I think are relevant and which I hope some readers will look up and read.

Poul Anderson, IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS? (Crowell-Collier, 1963)

Michael A.G. Michaud, CONTACT WITH ALIEN CIVILIZATIONS (Copernicus Books, 2010)

Gerard K. O'Neill, THE HIGH FRONTIER (Bantam, 1978)

Jerry Pournelle, A STEP FARTHER OUT (Ace Books, 1980)

Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner, THE CASE FOR MARS (The Free Press: 2011)

And this is only a small sampling of the vast and serious literature to be found about space, of how we can get off Earth and what might be OUT there!


Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
It is good to hear about it. Much as I want some major problems on Earth to be resolved without delay, I meanwhile also want some people off Earth as soon as possible. A laser defence system against comet/asteroid strikes should be a priority. Also, self-sustaining habitats in space, not just down on planetary surfaces.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree almost completely with what you wrote here. Such as what you said about laser defense system against comets/asteroids. My chief caveat being that I think some major problems on Earth would become IRRELEVANT if we had bases and colonies off Earth. Because the technological changes introduced by a new space faring civilization would, perhaps accidentally, solve those problems.