I found an interesting article in which sci-fi writers give their opinions about the future of human colonization of Mars. Here’s a link. I’d encourage you to take a few moments to check it out.
It got me thinking… with the looming publication of my story in the Brave New Girls anthology, I guess I can claim to be a sci-fi writer too. So here are my thoughts.
We’re already on Mars. We’ve been there for over ten years via the use of robotic proxies controlled here on Earth. This has really happened. Mankind has literally placed the footprint of its intelligence on a whole other world. Yet no one seems to care. Why is that?
The answer: because it’s not accessible to us. We don’t get to control the Mars rover, so why should we ever give it a second thought? It’s not featured on primetime TV or the subject of the latest pop 100 hit. For most of us, it simply isn’t an active part of our daily lives. To the average person, myself included, real space exploration feels too much like a genius only club. Sure, we all like a good sci-fi story or film. But when it comes to the real deal, the hard won discoveries that actually get us there, we shy away. We assume it’s over our heads and don’t even bother with it. We need to do better than that. Sure, we can’t all have a PhD in astrophysics or a Master’s in Engineering from MIT. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get involved in some fundamental way. It all comes down to accessibility.
In 1986, we came close. We decided to send a civilian into space for the first time, a teacher, who was planning to come home and travel the country, speaking to school children and inspiring a new generation of possibilities. For one brief, shiny moment – space was within reach of the common person. But it wasn’t meant to be.
The tragedy of the Challenger explosion plunged us into a deep hole that we’re just now starting to crawl our way out of. I’m not saying that we should rush into sending untrained civilians into harm’s way anytime soon, but we should be doing more to get people interested, at least a little.
Let’s face it, progress starts and stops with the pocketbook. It always has. The old adage, you get what you pay for, is as true here as it is with anything else. Space exploration is expensive, and – at least for now – there’s no money to be made in space. If there were, I guarantee we’d have boots on the ground on Mars within a few years.
But with no dollars to be had, we have to create a new currency.
The currency of inspiration.
We have to care. We have to want to learn more. We need to be given the secret knock to the clubhouse door.